Waugh continues: “Then England was agnostic for a century. The Catholic structure still lies lightly buried beneath every phase of English life. Everywhere history, topography, law, and archaeology reveal Catholic origins. Foreign travel anywhere reveals the local, temporary character of the heresies and schisms and the universal, eternal character of the Church. It was self-evident to me that no heresy or schism could be right and the Church wrong. It was possible that all were wrong, that the whole Christian revelation was an imposture or a misconception. But if the Christian revelation was true, then the Church was the society founded by Christ and all other bodies were only good so far as they had salvaged something from the wrecks of the Great Schism and the Reformation. This proposition seemed so plain to me that it admitted of no discussion. It only remained to examine the historical and philosophic grounds for supposing the Christian revelation to be genuine. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to a brilliant and holy priest [Father Martin D’Arcy, S.J.] who undertook to prove this to me, and so on firm intellectual conviction but with little emotion I was admitted into the Church.”
Persecution of Armenian Christians
On April 24,th the Vatican, France, Belgium, Germany, Lebanon, and Russia joined with the Armenian community to commemorate the “first genocide of the twentieth century,” a phrase used by Pope Francis last week during a Eucharistic liturgy. In that worship service, Armenian Church leaders spoke passionately about the massacre.
Beginning at the turn of the nineteenth century and continuing to 1915 and even beyond, the Ottoman Turks systematically slaughtered some 1.5 million Armenians. The genocide was carried out in two stages. The first part included intellectuals and political leaders, all keepers of the creative flame of an ancient people whose beginnings date back to Antiquity.
The second part of the genocide turned to the deportation of men, women, children, the elderly and infirm all of whom were placed on death marches that led to the Syrian Desert. They were deprived of food and water, subjected to robbery and rape. The hostile desert is where they succumbed to death. Other massacres included systematic drownings, poison, drug overdose, and mass burnings. The revolving door.
The systematic annihilation of 1.5 million Armenians has been well documented in most history books, except perhaps those in Turkey. The Hebrew University scholar, Yehuda Bauer has called the Armenian genocide “the closest parallel to the Holocaust.” Last week, the Armenian Church canonized its 1.5 million martyrs.
The Christian organization, Open Doors, estimates that at least 100 million Christians face persecution particularly in Muslim-dominated countries. According to the Society for International Rights, up to 80% of acts of persecution are directed to Christians.
The praise Charles de Gaulle offered during World War II to the Résistance is praise that well describes those Christians who undergo martyrdom for the faith: “You who were killed as Resistance Fighters or executed by firing squads, all of you who with your last breath shouted aloud the name of France, you are the men and women who exalted courage, sanctified effort, invented resolution. You took the lead at the head of the immense, magnificent cohort of the sons and daughters of France who, through their suffering, bore witness to her greatness.”
When asked about his conversion, Waugh replied: “My life since then has been an endless delighted tour of discovery in the huge territory of which I was made free. I have heard it said that some converts in later life look back rather wistfully to the fervor of their first months of faith. With me it is quite the opposite. I look back aghast at the presumption with which I thought myself suitable for reception and with wonder at the trust of the priest who saw the possibility of growth in such a dry soul.”
“From time to time friends outside the Church consult me. They are attracted by certain features, repelled or puzzled by others. To them I can only say, from my own experience, ‘Come inside.’ You cannot know what the Church is like from outside. However learned you are in theology, nothing you know amounts to anything in comparison with the knowledge of the simplest actual member of the Communion of Saints."
On stepping in to the revolving door, Evelyn Waugh found his spiritual home … on the inside.
(Column continues below)
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