Wednesday, 20 January 2016

A Surprise of the Holy Spirit

B.A. as Xerxes, drawn by his loving wife.
The incomparably gifted David Warren has something to say about surprise-of-the-Holy-Spirit rhetoric.

One surprise--as in, "Oh, goodness me!"-- of the Holy Spirit to which the residents of the Historical House can attest is that at the ages of 36 and 37 they met and fell in love. Strangely and wonderfully, each appreciated the other for their love of Christ and His Church. Hitherto, the ladies who had fancied Benedict Ambrose had merely tolerated his gradual conversion to Catholicism. 

Amazingly, the first eligible woman to think Benedict Ambrose's love for Catholicism one of the best things about him was also shorter than he, had red hair like his idol Dame Emma, was capable of ladylike behaviour in public, had been brought up to praise a good husband day in and day out, wrote well and had even done some of those Canadian wilderness things illustrated by his hero Ray Mears on telly. 

Astonishingly, the one man in some years who had thought Seraphic (then aged 37) a pearl of great price had just been received by the Roman Catholic Church, had published an excellent paper on virtue ethics in a peer-reviewed journal, lived in a 17th century house (with 18th century additions), had a kindly, affectionate nature, a handsome face, an encyclopedic knowledge of classical music and an enormous collection of worthy books and had never married.


"It's providential," they told each other and all their friends, who eventually told them to shut up. 

The surprise of the Holy Spirit was not that traditional Catholic doctrine was incorrect or had been superceded by some post-war novelty, but that God's plan for them included a happy Catholic marriage after all. Surprisingly, it involved marrying someone from across the Atlantic Ocean. Surprisingly, it involved no compromise of faith but rather a happy companionship in faith. Surprisingly (for one), it involved going to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass week in and week out. Surprisingly (for the other), it involved living with such arcane hobbies as Polish vocabulary and Pilates.

Another surprise of the Holy Spirit is that they were asked to be the godparents of a little boy whose baptism had been delayed for some time, largely because St. Thomas Aquinas ruled against anxious Christians just secretly christening children in the kitchen sink. One of the godparents may have burst into tears of joy once she was alone.  At any rate, this was one of the happiest moments of 21st century life in the Historical House.

So, yes, the denizens of the Historical House are happy to testify that there are surprises of the Holy Spirit, but they are at one in saying that in their experience these surprises are not in contradiction to the ancient beliefs and practices of the Una Vera Fides.

Update: The Holy Spirit also showers Protestants with such surprises, mind you. The story of the romance and marriage of Calvinist Cath is one of my all-time favourites. In short, she was thirty-something, dressed in her Sunday best (and no make-up, as Free Presbyterian women don't wear make-up), helping serve supper at the minister's house, when an equally intellectual young English Baptist, a medical doctor, thought "That's for me" and began a courtship through written correspondence. Surprise!

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