Rebuilding a lost faith



One thinks of the familiar metaphor of a stained-glass window in a vast
cathedral.  Seen from without by day, this seems to be an unintelligible
mass of dusky glass.  Viewed from within, however, it reveals a
beautiful design, where sacred story glows resplendently in form and
colour.  So is it with the Church of Rome.  One must enter it to
understand its sanctity and charm.  When I reflect upon that Church's
long, unbroken continuity extending back to the very days of the
Apostles; when I recall her grand, inspiring traditions, her blessed
Sacraments, her immemorial language, her changeless creed, her noble
ritual, her stately ceremonies, her priceless works of art, her wondrous
unity of doctrine, her ancient prayers, her matchless organisation, her
Apostoloic authority, her splendid roll of Saints and Martyrs reaching
up like Jacob's ladder, and uniting earth and Heaven; when I reflect
upon the intercession for us of those Saints and Martyrs, enhanced by
the petitions of the Blessed Mother of our Lord; and, last not least,
when I consider the abiding Presence of the Saviour on her altars; - I
feel that this One, Holy, Apostolic Church has given me certainty for
doubt, order for confusion, sunlight for darkness, and substance for
shadow.  It is the Bread of Life and the Wine of the Soul, instead of
the unsatisfying husks; the father's welcome, with the ring and the
robe, instead of the weary exile in the wilderness of doubt.  It is
true, the prodigal must retrace the homeward road, and even enter the
doorway of the mansion on his knees; but, within, what a recompense!

Favoured are those who, from their childhood up, are nurtured in the
Catholic church, and to whom all her comforts aids and Sacraments come
no less freely than the air and sunshine.  Yet I have sometimes wondered
whether such favoured Catholics ever know the rapture of the homeless
waif, to whom the splendours of his Father's house are suddenly
revealed; the consolation of the mariner, whose storm-tossed vessel
finally attains the sheltered port; the gratitude of the lonely
wanderer, long lost in cold and darkness, who shares at last, however
undeservedly, the warmth and light of God's great spiritual HOME!