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no answer ready for the workmen, and was honest enough to own up. His inability set him thinking, and started the process of religious conversion. The Gorham judgment, the Jerusalem bishopric, Kikuyu, have done so for others. A doubt, when incarnated in some concrete practical question, becomes the dynamic nascent idea par excellence. A merely speculative question can be logically turned and absorbed, but the inquisitive fact not being a mere mental product, must be either met or relegated to the oblivion of deep memory. So long as it keeps near the surface of consciousness, it is a disintegrant. If it effects a break-up, more or less, of the religious or irreligious field, the elements will strive to rearrange themselves. Now, in cases of conversion to the Catholic faith, this rearrangement presents certain characteristics. The elements will try to group themselves in various manners, tentatively, yet with a certain felt orientation. Retté thus analyses his state of soul, following on the question he could not answer :
I was more than a hundred leagues from any thought of religion the day before : indeed, it was part of my day's work to furbish up arms against the Church. But from the moment the idea of God was thrust upon me, it never left me. Quietly, with irresistible gentleness, it penetrated and soaked me little by little. It was as if a spring gushed up in the subsoil of a desert, flooding every layer and but slowly coming to the surface into the sun.
I felt my soul, as it were, split in two; all the forces of reason and will strove to react against this invasion of my soul by some unknown feeling whose persistence upset me. Often I felt vexed. At other times I was seized with a sort of panic, for I feared I was the victim of some morbid obsession which was symptomatic of mental break down.
But that did not last : I was soon obliged to recognize that, far from growing weak, my mind had never been so clear in analysing those phenomena of which the mind was the theatre. As to the worry and vexation caused by the movements of grace, they soon vanished in the divine light which progressively illuminated every corner of my being. 1
Retté traces the progress of this work, until there is a total wreck of his old philosophical position, and he is forced back on God. Then the process of reconstruction begins, the building up of the Catholic faith against the assaults of the ideas overthrown in the destructive period of the crisis, aided by all the passions which the nascent faith would restrain. He has to learn what the Church teaches, and put in practice what it enjoins against all his old habits of mind. In that battle, which was far fiercer than the former :
1 Retté, Notes sur la Psychologie de la Conversion. Action Catholique, Bruxelles (Science et Foi, No. 21), p. 18.
We feel in a manner very clear but undefinable, that God watches within us, and having begun our transformation He will not abandon us in the heat of our conflict with the Prince of Darkness. So we feel the seed of redemption growing which His Infinite Mercy has sown in our soul. At length we make this discovery : every time we stand firm against our passions, every time we answer the Devil with this affirmation drawn from our inmost being, 'I believe and I cannot disbelieve,' we are rewarded with fresh energy to resist the worst assaults, and by a feeling of love for God which floods us with joy and light--which leads us to prayer."
This conflict continues with various incidents until the faith is fully formed, and put in practice. The work of reconstruction in Retté's case was not easy; he was almost driven to suicide by temptations to despair. But throughout he had the consciousness of free choice.
During every phase one keeps one's free will, and one never ceases to feel clearly that it is a question of choosing between error on the decline but still vigorous and growing truth.
That is, I think, what proves the inanity of determinism. If we accept it the stronger natural motive will always prevail and every man will obey it. This motive, in the case of the convert, is that which is imposed by his life, spent in following materialist doctrines, and as a man soaked in sensuality. Yet, on the contrary, under the influence of a force acting against all the ordinary laws of psychology, he enters on a path of ransom and reparation which neither his inveterate habits nor his immediate interest pointed out.
In the case of J. K. Huysmans, for the Durtal of En Route is evidently the author himself, the process of destruction and edification was less dramatized in consciousness, the vital change came imperceptibly.
I had heard of a sudden and violent upset of the soul, of the thunderbolt, or of Faith finally blowing up fortifications which had been slowly and carefully undermined. It is very clear that conversions can follow one or other of these ways, for God does as He wills. But there should be a third way, no doubt the more common, which the Saviour followed in my case. And that consisted in I know not what, something like digestion, which we do not feel. There was no road to Damascus, no events precipitating a crisis; nothing happens, and you awake some fine morning to a fact without knowing the how or the why. Yes, this operation on the whole is like the mine which explodes only after being deeply dug out. Well, no, for in that case the work is felt; the objections which blocked the way are cleared off, I would have been able to reason the matter out, to follow the course of the spark along the train of powder, it was not so with me. I blew up suddenly, without foreseeing it, without suspecting that I had been so skilfully mined. Nor was it a thunderbolt, unless I acknowledge some thunderbolt which is secret and silent, queer and gentle. And this would also be false, for a sudden upset of the soul comes almost always as a sequel to misfortune or crime, to something one knows. The only thing which seems certain is, that in my case there was a divine initiative, grace.
1 Ibid. p. 22.
2 Ibid. p. 32.
As Père Mainage sums it up :
We will see that the consciousness of the convert exhibits a strange dualism : one would think it was at the mercy of a force at once external and immanent. And this force is neither brutal nor unintelligent. It acts as if proceeding from a skilful teacher, thoroughly acquainted with its psychological and moral field of action. To such an extent is this, that conversions can be reduced to a certain type of phenomena, to a case of education, with this curious difference, that the educator does not show himself. And who, then, is this mysterious teacher ? A comparison of experience with the given of Catholic doctrine will reveal His Name: God Himself present in the consciousness of the convert.1
Hallucination of the sub-conscious ? The objection might hold for those who only look at the dramatic expression of this inner experience in the narratives of converts. To convey an idea we must use some image, a coarse streak of chalk stands for the physically inexpressible Euclidean line. The more abstract our ideas, the more remote from mere concrete sensible reality, the more symbolic, the less actual is their representation in speech. As St. Thomas puts it :
Sacra Scriptura non proponit nobis divina sub figuris sensibilibus ut intellectus noster ibi maneat, sed ut ab his ad invisibilia ascendat : unde etiam per vilium rerum figuras tradit, ut minor praebeatur in talibus occasio remanendi.'? The possibility of hallucination in any dramatization of our states of consciousness is not ignored by Catholic spiritual writers; the reader will find in Chapter XXIX of The Ascent of Carmel, of St. John of the Cross, some very appropriate criticisms of indiscreet credulity. Our imaginations may play the fool when we try to represent an experience, but we have other tests for the experience itself. How is it lived ?
1 Th. Mainage, 0.P.: Introduction à la Psychologie des Convertis.
Paris :: Lecoffre, 1913, p. 122.
2 D. Thomas Aquinatis, Opus xxxiv. In Boetium De Trin., Q. 6. a. 2 ad 1.
Is that sense of unity in totality, of indefectible certitude hallucinatory? If so, the Catholic Church is one vast madhouse, for the convert's faith new formed is but the faith of all. His sense of a Divine teacher is but the dramatization, as it were, of that gift of the higher synthesis-that new metanoetic element in consciousness, whereby all his difficulties are solved. The psychic nebula of his consciousness has found its nucleus, the new centre of his psychic
• Terra autem erat inanis et vacua, et tenebrae erant super faciem abyssi : et Spiritus Dei ferebatur super aquas. Dixitque Deus : Fiat lux. Et facta est lux.' (Genesis 1, 2, 3).
THE FEAST OF ST. PATRICK IS RETAINED AS A HOLIDAY OF
OBLIGATION, AND THE LAW OF FAST AND ABSTINENCE ON THAT DAY IS DISPENSED BY THE HOLY SEE
(May 13, 1919)
SACRA CONGREGATIO CONCILII Beatissime Pater,
Cardinalis Archiepiscopus Armacanus nomine quoque ceterorum Ordinariorum Hiberniae humiliter petit a Sanctitate Vestra 1°, quod festum S. Patritii (17 Martii) restituatur sub duplici praecepto ; 2°, quod dicta die fideles dispensati sint a lege jejunii et abstinentiae.
Ratio est quia Sanctus Patritius est proctector totius Hiberniae et in omnibus civitatibus ac pagis magna devotione colitur.
Ex audientia SSmi. diei 13 maii 1919, SS. D. N. Benedictus PP. XV, audita relatione infrascripti Cardinalis S. C. Concilii Praefecti, benigne annuit pro gratia juxta preces.
V. CARD. SBARRETTO, Praefectus.
APOSTOLIO LETTER TO THEIR EMINENCES CARDINALS
GIBBONS AND O'CONNELL AND THE OTHER BISHOPS OF THE UNITED STATES
(April 10, 1919)
AD IACOBUM 8. R. E. CARD. GIBBONS, ARCHIEPISCOPUM BALTIMORENSEM
GUILELMUM 8. R. E. CARD. O'CONNELL, ARCHIEPISCOPUM BOSTONI-
Dilecti filii Nostri, venerabiles fratres, salutem et apostolicam benedictionem.--Communes litteras vestras Washingtonia datas, quo dilecti filii Nostri Iacobi S. R. E. Presb. Card. Gibbons quinquagesimum episcopatus natalem ad celebrandum coiveratis, reddidit Nobis, istinc nuper reversus, ven. frater Bonaventura, archiepiscopus titulo Corinthiensis, Nostrae apud vos in tam singulari evento interpres nuntiusque laetitiae, Confirmarunt eae quidem, novo pietatis studiique erga Nos vestri testimonio, quam coniuncti Nobiscum sitis ; quam vero coniuncti inter vos, sollemnia ipsa, cura et frequentia omnium vestra, apparate feliciterque acta, clariore in luce collocarunt. Utrumque vobis, venerabiles fratres,