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G. K. Chesterton on “Why I Am a Catholic”

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The first in a series of “Lights in the Darkness”

There is no other case of one continuous intelligent institution that has been thinking about thinking for two thousand years. Its experience naturally covers nearly all experiences; and especially nearly all errors. The result is a map in which all the blind alleys and bad roads are clearly marked, all the ways that have been shown to be worthless by the best of all evidence: the evidence of those who have gone down them. … But [the Church] does definitely take the responsibility of marking certain roads as leading nowhere or leading to destruction, to a blank wall, or a sheer precipice. By this means, it does prevent men from wasting their time or losing their lives upon paths that have been found futile or disastrous again and again in the past, but which might otherwise entrap travelers again and again in the future. The Church does make herself responsible for warning her people against these; and upon these the real issue of the case depends. She does dogmatically defend humanity from its worst foes, those hoary and horrible and devouring monsters of the old mistakes …

Now there is no other corporate mind in the world that is thus on the watch to prevent minds from going wrong. The policeman comes too late when he tries to prevent men from going wrong. The doctor comes too late, for he only comes to lock up a madman, not to advise a sane man on how not to go mad …

Every moment increases for us the moral necessity for such an immortal mind. We must have something that will hold the four corners of the world still …

G. K. Chesterton found that “something”: The enduring truth, the exhilarating goodness and the ineffable beauty of the Catholic Church. And he found it by being fair to it.

Fairness.

What a novel idea.

To read Why I Am a Catholic in full, please visit this link to the American Chesterton Society.

 

Tod Worner is a husband, father, Catholic convert and practicing internal medicine physician. He blogs for Patheos as A Catholic Thinker.

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