Monday, June 29, 2009

Who prayed for Chesterton?

On Chesterton's conversion to the Catholic Faith:

"Nothing for years has given me so much joy. I have hardly ever entered a church without putting up a candle to Our Lady or to St. Joseph or St. Anthony for you. And both this year and last year in Lent I made a Novena for you. I know of many other people, better people far than I, who did the same. Many Masses were said for you and prayers all over England and Scotland in centres of Holiness. I will show you some day a letter from some Nuns on the subject. A great friend of mine, one of the greatest saints I have known, Sister Mary Annunciation of the Convent Orphanage, Upper Norwood, used always to pray for you...Well, all I have to say, Gilbert, is what I think I have already said to you, and what I have said not long ago in a printed book. That I was received into the Church on the Eve of Candlemas 1909, and it is perhaps the only act in my life which I am quite certain I have never regretted. Every day I live, the Church seems to me more and more wonderful; the Sacraments more and more solemn and sustaining; the voice of the Church, her liturgy, her rules, her discipline, her ritual, her decisions in matters of Faith and Morals more and more excellent and profoundly wise and true and right, and her children stamped with something that those outside Her are without. There I have found Truth and reality and everything outside Her is to me, compared with Her, as dust and shadow. Once more God bless you, and Frances. Please give her my love. In my prayers for you I have always added her name."

The above quote is from a good friend of GKC's, Maurice Baring (famously seen in the "Baring, Overbearing and Past-bearing" portrait with Chesterton and Belloc). It seems that we owe a great debt to Baring, and many others, for praying for Chesterton and therefore aiding his entrance into the Church. It's a humbling reminder: Christ meant it when He said, "Ask and you shall recieve, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you..."

God bless!

Monday, June 15, 2009

G.K. and Canonisation

Just some sketchy thoughts on the question of the canonisation of G.K., reproduced from my personal blog Sing Me the Old Songs:

The question of G.K. Chesterton being canonised is being raised once again, and getting a little bit of buzz in the Chestertonian blogging world. Sean Dailey, of one of my favourite Chestertonian blogs The Blue Boar, wrote about it initially here, and again here.

In his second post he offered a sort of apology for saying: "The world needs more fat saints." And while it's true that dear Uncle Gilbert was a heck of a lot more than a jolly fat man, I think there's some validity in Mr. Dailey's statement.

St. Gianna Molla was recently a topic of discussion in our house, and one thing about this extraordinary and heroic woman was that she was not the stereotypical saint. She was a working woman - a pediatrician, to be precise - and she was a married woman.

But frankly I don't think any of the saints were stereotypical saints. Their 'failure' to conform to the stereotypes is, I'd almost venture to say, what made them saints. The Church has always been about breaking stereotypes. From the wild sinner to saint Augustine, to the radically simple Francis of Assisi, to the quiet Therese following her Little Way, to the 'dumb ox' Aquinas, saints have always been found in the most unlikely of places.

I don't know whether Uncle Gilbert merits canonisation or not... I haven't made it a course of study, and I can only testify to the radical way he changed my life.

But I do believe that if he breaks from the mold of the stereotypical saint, on account of all his most stereotypically Chesterton qualities, then that's the first step, and the first proof that maybe he should be canonised. The world needs more fat saints because the world needs more saints... holy men and women who challenge us to break past the stereotypes and live in an unthought of and radical way for God.