Confessions of a Convert (Benson)
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Confessions of a Convert is Robert Hugh Benson’s autobiographical account of his journey from an Anglican brought up in “the moderate High Church school of thought” to a Catholic priest living under “the sunlight of Eternal Truth.” Benson was raised as a faithful, yet unreflective member of the Anglican communion, whose childhood was dominated by his father’s, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s, unquestioning commitment to doctrine. Theology was merely the family business, and hints at a more personal relationship with God only arose with snatches of poetry or a fleetingly splendid line from a sermon.
As the years progressed, however, Benson felt called to join his father in the priesthood, and he was ordained a priest in the Church of England in 1895. Benson recounts how his growing love of ritual and the sacrament of Confession first turned his thoughts towards Catholicism, transforming his childhood contempt for the Church into sympathy. These loves simultaneously planted doubts about the Anglican communion since he could nowhere find a unanimous interpretation of its doctrines. For years, Benson alternated between contented faith and turbulent questioning. Eventually, however, Catholicism’s invincible unity and deep ritual swayed his mind and heart, and Benson was received into the Church in 1903.
Benson weaves an intricate tapestry of thoughts, images, impressions and arguments–all of which lead to his conversion. Above all, it is the Church’s unflinching and eternal answer to the perennial question, “Master, what must I do to be saved?” that stands as the cornerstone of Benson’s Catholic faith. Confessions of a Convert appeals to neophytes and cradle-Catholics alike as a testament to true faith, revealing how God uses family, history, beauty, and liturgy to call His children home.
Mgr Benson's 'Confessions of a Convert' are edifying and entertaining in equal measure, and a fascinating snapshot of the Anglican and Catholic scenes in his day. They remind us of the great soul-searching and also personal suffering undertaken by the generations of converts, from Newman up to the 1950s, who enriched the Catholic Church in the British Isles while the Church was subject to the soft persecution of prejudice and social exclusion.—Joseph Shaw PhD, Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at St Benet's Hall, Oxford University, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales
This is a story about a man who was obedient to the Truth, wherever it led. By worldly standards, Benson had everything to lose by converting to Catholicism, and nothing to gain. As an affluent, cultured, and well-connected son of an Archbishop of Canterbury, he lacked no opportunity to build for himself an exquisitely pleasant life as an Anglican priest. But he left that life behind, because it was not built upon the foundation Christ had established for His Church. This is a moving story of deep loss, but even deeper joy, as the author realizes that what is True is also equally Good and Beautiful. — Thomas Ward PhD, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Baylor University
In Robert Hugh Benson’s most candid and autobiographical work, the reader is struck by the intellectual honesty that paved the way for his renunciation of the Anglican religion. Continually guided by his love for the truth, the book reads like an epic journey into what one contemporary of his calls ‘the City of Peace’. Those who grew up in the Catholic Church will find in Confessions of a Convert an intriguing insight into the seismic transformation that can sometimes occur en route to Catholicism: non-Catholics will find in it all the reasons they need to convert. — Fr. Patrick O’Donohue, Irish Apostolate of the Fraternity of St. Peter
Paperback ISBN: 9781915544094 €16.95 | Hardcover ISBN: 9781915544100 €21.95