In 1907, The Ave Maria magazine invited well-known English novelist Robert Hugh Benson to share his conversion story. He began the first of eight installments with a statement that captures the perils and joys faced by converts as they attempt to "cross the Tiber." "When one stands at last upon high ground, it is extraordinarily difficult to trace the road by which one has approached: it winds, rises, falls, broadens and narrows until the mind is bewildered."
Benson weaves those challenges into the narrative as he examines his own life for the signs and wonders that illuminated his way. He was astonished at how the remote God of his Anglican upbringing drew close to him, igniting a fire in his to heart and a desire to know God on a deeper level. This transformation led him to the doorstep of the Catholic Church. Reluctant to venture further because he was known as an important figure in the Anglican world, Benson grappled with the sacrifices he would make, including the loss of his vocation, family, and friends. After the death of his father, Benson finally embraced the nearness of God found in the Eucharist.
He shows us that coming closer to Christ and his Church is not always neat and tidy. Benson's humor and humility help bridge the century-long gap between his time and ours and he teaches us to embrace the questions, struggles, and falterings of our faith in a way that's full of God's love.
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