February 3, 2007

Mt Darien Scenic Viewpoint, Exit One Mile...

Here's this Sunday's oddment, Houselander on the Sacrifice of the Mass...

...It's all you've got, and he gave it to you. We are like children whose father has given them a sixpence to buy a birthday present for him. The father knows the child can't bring him a present costing a pound: he can only give back what he has been given and whatever little scruffy object he produces; the father loves it, for it is his child's offering of all he can offer—and that is only his own gift back again, but back again made more lovable to him by an exchange of their love.
--
Caryll Houselander

One of the unexpected and totally cool things about becoming a Catholic has been the discovery, like stout Cortez (was he really so fat? And should we keep teasing him, poor fellow?) of a whole new ocean, of thought and books. And especially there is all this history I hardly knew about (and which may be the actually important stuff) which is just jam to an aficionado like me. I'm going back now and learning much old history all over again from a new slant. Especially English history. It's sort of like reading those alternate-history SF things, where the South won the Civil War, or some such. More and Laud and Ken and Newman and Wiseman move forward into the lighted front of the stage, and the Tudors and Cromwell and Huxley and Gladstone step back a bit...

Houselander, quoted above, was one of the oddest and most impressive Englishwomen of the 20th Century...and I'd never heard of her before last year! I found the quoted bit in Masie Ward's biography, Carryll Houselander: That Divine Eccentric. The Houselander book to read is Rocking Horse Catholic)

And, speaking of history, the name Ward is a sea in itself. WG Ward was perhaps the most brilliant of the followers of Newman in the Oxford Movement, (and perhaps the biggest pain-in-the-ass to that great man after they both entered The Church). WG's son was Wilfrid Ward, a very important English Catholic writer and thinker, who was especially important in recognizing the transition; the realization that Protestantism was exhausted, and it was time for the Church to end its siege mentality, come out of the bunker and be bold and confident once more.

And Wilfrid Ward's daughter was Maisie Ward, who, teamed with her husband Frank Sheed, founded the publishing firm Sheed and Ward, and wrote many a good Catholic book. Plus did a lot of other fascinating stuff. And their son was Wilfrid Sheed, the literary critic I used to read in the NYT Book Review. So far now I've read biographies by Wilfrid Sheed about his parents, by Masie about her parents, and by Wilfrid Ward about his father. (Who did not, as far as I know, write about his father, who was a famous cricketer, and founded Lord's.) Four generations covered. There's just something about the English; I can't think of any comparable American family...

Posted by John Weidner at February 3, 2007 5:06 PM
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