Paradoxes of Catholicism by Robert Hugh Benson


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Page 1









_I and My Father are one_.--JOHN X. 30.

_My Father is greater than I_.--JOHN XIV. 20.

The mysteries of the Church, a materialistic scientist once announced to
an astonished world, are child's play compared with the mysteries of
nature.[1] He was completely wrong, of course, yet there was every
excuse for his mistake. For, as he himself tells us in effect, he found
everywhere in that created nature which he knew so well, anomaly piled
on anomaly and paradox on paradox, and he knew no more of theology than
its simpler and more explicit statements.

[Footnote 1: Professor Huxley.]

We can be certain therefore--we who understand that the mysteries of
nature are, after all, within the limited circle of created life, while
the mysteries of grace run up into the supreme Mystery of the eternal
and uncreated Life of God--we can be certain that, if nature is
mysterious and paradoxical, grace will be incalculably more mysterious.
For every paradox in the world of matter, in whose environment our
bodies are confined, we shall find a hundred in that atmosphere of
spirit in which our spirits breathe and move--those spirits of ours
which, themselves, paradoxically enough, are forced to energize under
material limitations.

We need look no further, then, to find these mysteries than to that tiny
mirror of the Supernatural which we call our self, to that little thread
of experience which we name the "spiritual life." How is it, for
example, that while in one mood our religion is the lamp of our shadowy
existence, in another it is the single dark spot upon a world of
pleasure--in one mood the single thing that makes life worth living at
all, and in another the one obstacle to our contentment? What are those
sorrowful and joyful mysteries of human life, mutually contradictory yet
together resultant (as in the Rosary itself) in others that are
glorious? Turn to that master passion that underlies these
mysteries--the passion that is called love--and see if there be anything
more inexplicable than such an explanation. What is this passion, then,
that turns joy to sorrow and sorrow to joy--this motive that drives a
man to lose his life that he may save it, that turns bitter to sweet and
makes the cross but a light yoke after all, that causes him to find his
centre outside his own circle, and to please himself best by depriving
himself of pleasure? What is that power that so often fills us with
delights before we have begun to labour, and rewards our labour with
the darkness of dereliction?

I. If our interior life, then, is full of paradox and apparent
contradiction--and there is no soul that has made any progress that does
not find it so--we should naturally expect that the Divine Life of Jesus
Christ on earth, which is the central Objective Light of the World
reflected in ourselves, should be full of yet more amazing anomalies.
Let us examine the records of that Life and see if it be not so. And let
us for that purpose begin by imagining such an examination to be made by
an inquirer who has never received the Christian tradition.

(i) He begins to read, of course, with the assumption that this Life is
as others and this Man as other men; and as he reads he finds a hundred
corroborations of the theory. Here is one, born of a woman, hungry and
thirsty by the wayside, increasing in wisdom; one who works in a
carpenter's shop; rejoices and sorrows; one who has friends and enemies;
who is forsaken by the one and insulted by the other--who passes, in
fact, through all those experiences of human life to which mankind is
subject--one who dies like other men and is laid in a grave.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Fri 24th Jan 2020, 13:41