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Spiritual Letters of Monsignor R Hugh Benson: To One of His Converts

Spiritual Letters of Monsignor R Hugh Benson: To One of His Converts

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  • ISBN-13: 9781482605174
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Release Date: Feb 21, 2013
  • Pages: 160 pages
  • Dimensions: 0.37 x 9.00 x 6.00 inches


THE letters of which this volume consists had begun to appear in my brother's lifetime, with his full consent and approval, as a series of articles. He had indeed himself seen and criticised the earliest of them. The recipient of the letters consulted me as to their publication in book-form, and as my brother left me in his will the whole of his papers and manuscripts, I feel that he intended me to have the full responsibility of using my discretion as to publication. In the present case it is perfectly clear to me that it was his wish and intention that the letters should appear, while I have no doubt that he would have sanctioned their appearance in the form of a book. Moreover, on reading them, it seemed to me that they illustrate in a very peculiar way some of my brother's most marked characteristics, not only his enthusiasm and swift expressiveness, but his eager desire to respond to every call and claim for sympathy and interest, as well as his grace of loyal and continuous kindness. He said once that he could not "prop "-that people came to him and passed on. This may sometimes have been true, but I think it was generally his consultants who passed on, and not himself! I have been allowed to see more than one series of his letters, and there is never any sign of his care and sympathy failing, so long as they were needed and desired. Let us look at one of these letters in part: "I will do my best to answer your questions; for, poor as my answers will be, I think to attempt them is the best way to show my real gratitude for your sympathy. "First, I would like to say this: that to my mind all such difficulties are secondary. There are unanswerable difficulties in Christianity, widely considered: but we trust our Lord personally in spite of them: knowing that there is an answer to them all in His Divine Wisdom. So with the Church. The first thing to make sure of is the grounds of Faith. (1) Did or did not our Lord intend there to be a Divine Teacher on earth to the end? (2) If He did, where is it to be found? All else to my mind is secondary to that. Once one has found the Divine Teacher one asks questions, indeed; but it is only in order to know what to believe. " It is possible, I suppose, to hold all, or nearly all the Catholic doctrines one by one, individually, because we have examined them and found them probable and reasonable; but that is not the root of the matter. The root is to have made the Act of Submission to the Divine Teacher. Then one's business is to find out what She teaches: but even before one knows any theology, one implicitly believes the entire Faith in its principles and details, just because one believes the Teacher who delivers it. " Having said that, may I go on ? "(1) You say: 'If it was not wrong to use private judgment to go to an Authority, how can it be wrong to use it after?' Test that by practical experience: e.g. you become persuaded, by Private Judgment, that a certain doctor understands your constitution better than you do yourself: and you put yourself in his hands. Would it not be suicidal, after that, to judge of his remedies one by one, as to whether you would use them? The Church says: 'Here am I, with certain claims and credentials. I have a continuous spiritual experience for nineteen centuries; no break; I have a wide Catholic experience over all countries; my head is the Apostolic See with 1200 bishops in unity of faith. I point to the Scriptures that you accept, and I ask you to look at your own heart. Judge whether I am trustworthy or not. If you think I am, then put yourself wholly in my charge, and let me deal with you as I have dealt with millions of others of all races and ages and characters. If not, you must see to yourself.”

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