Converts find the symphony of truth

Why do adults become Catholics? There are as many reasons for "converting" as there are converts, writes George Weigel in Ethics and Public Policy Centre.

Evelyn Waugh became a Catholic with, by his own admission, "little emotion but clear conviction:" this was the truth; one ought to adhere to it.

Cardinal Avery Dulles wrote that his journey into the Catholic Church began when, as an unbelieving Harvard undergraduate detached from his family's staunch Presbyterianism, he noticed a leaf shimmering with raindrops while taking a walk along the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts; such beauty could not be accidental, he thought - there must be a Creator.

Thomas Merton (pictured) ound Catholicism aesthetically, as well as intellectually, attractive: once the former Columbia free-thinker and dabbler in communism and Hinduism found his way into a Trappist monastery and became a priest, he explained the Mass to his unconverted friend, poet Robert Lax, by analogy to a ballet.

Until his death in 2007, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger insisted that his conversion to Catholicism was not a rejection of, but a fulfillment of, the Judaism into which he was born; the cardinal could often be found at Holocaust memorial services reciting the names of the martyrs, including "Gisèle Lustiger, ma maman."

Two of the great 19th century converts were geniuses of the English language: theologian John Henry Newman and poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. This tradition of literary converts continued in the 20th century, and included Waugh, Graham Greene, Edith Sitwell, Ronald Knox, and Walker Percy.

Their heritage lives today at Our Savior's Church on Park Avenue in New York, where convert author, wit, raconteur and amateur pugillist George William Rutler presides as pastor.

If there is a thread running through these diverse personalities, it may be this: that men and women of intellect, culture, and accomplishment have found in Catholicism what Blessed John Paul II called the "symphony of truth."

FULL STORY Converts and the symphony of truth (Ethics and Public Policy Centre)

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