Let us go into the virtual Catholic attic where the archives of the Church Militant are stored, and take out a box which contains the letters received by the Catholic English writer, Gilbert Keith Chesterton (b. 1874- d. 1936). For today, let us look at one letter. This letter will be of interest to those fascinated by Church history, as it is a letter that the Catholic writer, Hilaire Belloc (b. 1870- d. 1953), wrote to Chesterton in 1907. In 1907, Chesterton was contemplating a move to the Roman Catholic Church; a move he subsequently made in 1922. As I adore delving into the archives of the Church Militant, I am posting this letter today. I think you will enjoy reading the sentiments of Belloc: of his love for the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of his declaration that she is his mother; that she is our Mother. The letter now follows:
Reform Club, Manchester, (addition by SCF: about the Reform Club, here)
11 Dec. 1907.
My dear Gilbert,
I am a man afraid of impulse in boats, horses and all action though driven to it. I have never written a letter such as I am writing now, though I have desired to write some six or seven since I became a grown man. In the matter we discussed at Oxford I have a word to say which is easier to say on paper than by word of mouth, or rather, more valuable. All intellectual process is doubtful, all inconclusive, save pure deduction, which is a game if one’s first certitudes are hypothetical and immensely valuable if one’s first certitude is fixed, yet remains wholly dependent on that.
Now if we differed in all main points I would not write thus, but there are one or two on which we agree. One is “Vere passus, immolatus in cruce pro homine.” (see translation here, added by SCF) Another is in a looking up to our Dear Lady, the blessed Mother of God.
I recommend to you this, that you suggest to her a comprehension for yourself, of what indeed is the permanent home of the soul. If it is here you will see it, if it is there you will see it. She never fails us. She has never failed me in any demand.
I have never written thus—-as I say—-and I beg you to see nothing in it but what I say. There is no connection the reason can seize—-but so it is. If you say “I want this” as in your case to know one way or the other—-She will give it you: as She will give health or necessary money or success in a pure love. She is our Blessed Mother.
I have not used my judgment in this letter. I am inclined to destroy it, but I shall send it. Don’t answer it.
My point is: If it is right She knows. If it is not right, She
Belloc expresses a childlike, and Catholic, confidence in Our Lady. A confidence we may all safely imitate. I find it interesting that Belloc said that Chesterton was looking for a permanent home for his soul (paraphrase), and then, refers him to the Blessed Virgin Mary, as Chesterton, later, wrote of finding a home in his poem The House of Christmas (see, here). He wrote this poem in 1912. As I mentioned earlier, Chesterton entered the Roman Catholic Church in 1922, and the rest is, as it is said, history.
May Hilaire Belloc and Gilbert Keith Chesterton, rest in peace, and remember us in their prayers.
May Our Lady, pray for us.