|09-05-2010, 01:31 PM||#1|
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Benson, Robert H: Confessions of a Convert V1. 05 Sep 2010
Robert Hugh Benson (18 November 1871 – 19 October 1914) was the youngest son of Edward White Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury, and younger brother of Edward Frederic Benson. Benson was educated at Eton College, and then studied Classics and Theology at Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1890 to 1893. In 1895, he was ordained a priest in the Church of England by his father, Edward White Benson, who was then Archbishop of Canterbury.
After the death of his father in 1896 he was sent on a trip to the Middle East to recover his own health. While there, he began to question the status of the Church of England and to consider the claims of the Roman Catholic Church. His own piety began to tend toward the High Church variety, and he started exploring religious life in various Anglican communities, eventually obtaining permission to join the Community of the Resurrection.
Benson made his profession as a member of the community in 1901, at which time he had no thoughts of leaving the Church of England. But as he continued his studies and began writing, he became more and more uneasy with his own doctrinal position, and on 11 September 1903 he was received into the Roman Catholic Church.
He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1904 and sent to Cambridge. He continued his writing career along with the usual elements of priestly ministry. He was named a monsignor in 1911.
WHEN one stands at last upon high ground, it is extraordinarily difficult to trace the road behind by which one has approached: it winds, rises, falls, broadens, and narrows, until the mind is bewildered. Nor indeed do the comments of friends and critics shouted from below tend to clear the situation.
§ 1. I have been told that I became a Catholic because I was dispirited at failure and because I was elated at success; because I was imaginative and because I was imperceptive; because I was not hopeful enough and because I was too hopeful, faithless and too trusting, too ardent and too despairing, proud and pusillanimous. I have even been told, since the first publication of these papers, that I have never truly understood the Church of England. Of course that is possible; but, if so, it is certainly not for lack of opportunity. I was brought up, as will be seen presently, in an ecclesiastical household for twenty-five years; I was a clergyman for nine years, in town and country and a Religious House. My father was the spiritual head of the Anglican communion; my mother, brothers, and sister are still members of it, as well as a large number of my friends. I was prepared for orders by the most eminent Evangelical of his day. I ended by becoming a convinced High Churchman. It seems, further, now that I have my pen in my hand, that I never before really attempted to disentangle the strands, and that it is rash of me to attempt it now. It is full of danger. It is extremely easy to deceive oneself, and it is extremely hard not to be self-conscious and complacent, not to see only what one would wish to see; and, above everything, one is afraid that, after all, it is bound to be very unconvincing to other people. For you cannot trace the guidance of the Spirit of God or diagnose His operations in the secret rooms of the soul: He seems at times to let good go and to bring instead good out of evil, and light into voluntary darkness…
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