The Anchoress is back after nearly a week away from her blog and is using the occasion of Leah Libresco's conversion, she who was an atheist and is now working toward becoming fully Catholic, to enlighten us all on the appeal Catholicism has for thinkers:
Someone asked me a few days ago whether it bothered me that Leah is determined to ask questions of the church and its teachings, and I said, “no; she’s not the first to ask, and she won’t be the last.” We have a long history of brilliant people — atheists and non — who have trained their big brains on Catholicism, intending to either disprove it or simply to splash about in its currents, only to find themselves drawn further in. Catholic teaching has been thoroughly reasoned and laboriously fleshed-out; there is actual thinking, full of nuance and complexity, at its core — where Faith and Reason share a kinship, within which the natural and supernatural wave back and forth, like wind-stirred wheat in a field; it’s a dance of organic wholeness.
There is that famous, and lately perhaps overused, quote by Fulton Sheen: “There are not 100 people who hate the Catholic Church; But there are millions who hate what they believe the Catholic Church to be.” There is a great deal of truth in that, which is perhaps why the quote is overused. I’ve never known anyone to pursue an exploration of the church with an open mind, and continue to hate her, and Leah’s mind appears to be wide-open and hate-free, to begin with.
I’m not bothered that she may bring questions with her, because I take my cue from the Holy Father, who has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to entertain any-and-all topics. Benedict believes — and I have discovered it in my own faith journey — that submitting any question to reason, and tackling it with patient but rigorous intellectual honesty leads one (sometimes with great reluctance and gritted teeth) to the side of Catholic orthodoxy.
What I often think of the church is that her depths allow the exploration and collection of the very sweetest mysteries; hauling them up and breaking them into the conscious mind is like finding the perfect pearl, over and over again.
I really hope that becomes true for Leah, too.
And I hope it becomes true for many more... maybe even someone reading these pages regularly.