Et in Ecclesiam Catholicam
Two days ago I was received into the Catholic church. It was strange that such a ‘joyous’ moment should in a way be so depressing. The night before I could not do a thing except to wonder whether or not to fall in love with a certain girl and to be preoccupied like that when heaven waited…! I spent an hour at Blackfairs just sitting or kneeling. Put one-self into the hands of God and it is all right one need not worry. Perhaps I did succeed in doing that and things became looser.
But the next day holding a card and making the vow – this wasn’t becoming a Catholic and I was mainly worrying about what other people were thinking anyhow. But the form had to be gone through perhaps I had become a catholic before.
Then Communion and the body of God sticking to one’s mouth. I was unable to swallow the flesh of our Lord.
Then all was over and it might as well not have happened. Or might it?
The world is the same. I am the same yet I have eaten of the flesh and received the mark. Perhaps also it is the cry of the murderer – why chase me I am the same as I am before? Not what have I done? I know what I have done and he knows what he has done. But why am I different? I know that you can apply a different name to me, but that is something you are doing not something I am doing; and I really eat the same way and drink the same way and talk the same way as before.
Dear Miss X
I desperately want your love. I won’t love you back, I’m afraid. I’m far too selfish for that besides after a time you will begin to remind me of my mother so I will be busy revolting against you running away from you. But I want you to be there to care, someone must care and you could.
When I am depressed nothing, no one exists, but nor do I exist to anyone; if you were there and I was depressed at least I would exist to you. & You would exist to me; you would be my source of depression; and I would think of women more beautiful than you, or more gay; women with whom I would be happier. Not that there probably are. But you would be someone there; a hand; a head.
You might even forgive me. I would feel remorse whilst now there is nothing to feel remorse about.
But I would break it. Break break break; I break anything precious if I’m given time enough.
Dear Miss X look out on this life of ruin, of selfishness of will. A life tied to a wheel of depressions and exhilarations, drink and moods and sex.
While there is yet time god blot out this piece of blackness and save one more Mrs X from a life long doom with one more unpleasant Mr X.
A man once fell in love with pictures; and since he was very rich, he would set out to buy the most beautiful pictures in the world. For twenty years he travelled everywhere, looked at everything, and by then he knew which were the most beautiful pictures in the world. So he bought them. He bought them all, for he was very rich; and he took them and placed them in his house. But somehow they still weren’t his. He could look at them, he could touch them. But other people could do the same. So he took them into a private room where no-one else could see them, and he locked the room. No-one else saw them or touched them. But they still weren’t his. They were separate from him. They were with the room the whole time but with him only some of the time. So he shut himself up in the room and stayed there for days. But they still weren’t his. So he took them all off the walls and placed them all around him. He lay on the floor and pulled them over him till they pressed right down on top of him. He stayed like that for a long time. Only the pain of their weight pressed on him.
After some time the pain got less and he remembered that the point of the most beautiful pictures of the world was that they should be looked at. After all it might be the most ugly pictures in the world that were now pressing on him. So they still weren’t his. Then he threw them off and lit a fire and burnt them one by one till there were none left. Then he realised that they still weren’t his and that the fire had gone out so he could not even throw himself into it.
It is perhaps worth while trying to analyse these moments of supreme value. Therefore I will first list a number as they come into my mind and then analyse what they have in common. Together with noting what does not come in this list
1 Sculling in the sun at Eton. (note not at Oxford)
2 Winning the Ladies Plate at Eton.
3 Shooting in the early morning at Folly Mill.
4 Autumn mornings particularly the ones in which ones breath can be seen.
Winter fires and the list tails off: I leave out childhood ones, they are too bound up with sentiment; and no recent ones have yet gathered real force. But the start of the recent list seems to be something like
5 High Mass, always especially the Credo.
6 Driving back to Oxford at 6.A.M.
7 Certain mornings in G- St. but again I am not sure of that
The Chartreusian monastery & certain things of beauty in the sun, but always the detail never the whole.
[I have written previously on this blog about my father’s career as a rower, and therefore on his influence, as an athlete, on me. Here is an extract from the diary he kept at Oxford, during his rowing peak. I’ll publish further extracts over the next few days]
What is the point?
It is given to undergraduates and those of that age in particular, to ask what is the point. Afterwards a middle-aged smugness settles in combined with a feeling of having lost something. This causes such expressions from the old – “how lucky you are to be young.” There we are with our chance all over to do something worth while but 99% of us are destined to stamp on the desire to do something worth while for the sake of marriage and so curing our loneliness or for money or security or fear or something.
Anyhow the result is that we forget that in our youth we used to despise the prospect of the bowler hat, the city train, the Financial Times, the grey-haired wife and sticky children. Perhaps we will consider ourselves wiser then, maybe we will be. But as it is we do not have the courage to be a monk, or the conviction to be a politician. We drift. And we try to convince ourselves that what we are doing is worth while. I suppose that somethings are more obviously not worth while than others. Thus I suppose that a bookie has some difficulty in convincing himself that his job is worth while; but I am sure
that he does convince himself.
Perhaps “worth while” is an illegitimate expression of an outmoded Christian dogma.
If your gods should fail you, beat them.