I saw this in the Seattle Post Intelligencer but it goes back to a piece Newt Gingrich wrote for the National Catholic Register about why he joined the Catholic Church. I think it is interesting that the secular MSM picked it up.
Two things about this struck me as interesting.
First, what the former Speaker of the House describes as the shape of his conversion experience is rather close to my own experience. I too came to a realization that I had to embrace formally what I had come to believe intellectually. Also there was an affective dimension which needed to be triggered. Furthermore, there is the element of music. During what began as a purely intellectual inquiry into what Catholics believe, the sly old fisherman Msgr. Richard Schuler invited me, at the time a musician, to sing in the choir. That got me in the door and participating at Mass, which helped both the intellective and the affective components of my slow conversion.
Secondly, Mr. Gingrich points to something that is a constant theme for me when speaking from the pulpit or giving advice to people about how to deal with friends or relatives who have fallen away from the Catholic Church or who are perhaps showing some interest the the Church: demonstrate joy. Joy is attractive. People what to know what works for others. When they see you are happy as a Catholic, they may want to get closer to that source your your happiness for their own sake. What will not work with others is gloom.
I am pretty sure that if Mr. Ginrich’s wife Callista had been all long-face all the time about her faith, his conversion would not have been nearly as prompt, his willingness to go through the process of sorting out their marriage situation wouldn’t have been as generous.
And to head some people who will have a knee-jerk reaction to the name Newt Gingrich, and the fact that he wasn’t perfect in years past, I would remind you that you too are sinners who made mistakes and, hopefully, have tried to correct your lives. The Church is not a museum of perfect beings. It is more like a hospital for the sick and wounded where they can be healed and emerge the happier for their past challenges.
Gingrich: Why I became a Catholic
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Catholic convert, is making faith a major cornerstone of his embryonic presidential campaign, and credits third wife Callista for his conversion.
Gingrich has penned a piece for National Catholic Register explaining his spiritual journey from Southern Baptist to Roman Catholic. He is also crediting Pope Benedict XVI for “a moment of confirmation.”
“I am often asked when I chose to become Catholic,” Gingrich wrote. “However, it is more truthful to say that over the course of several years I gradually became Catholic and then decided one day to accept the faith I had already come to embrace.
“My wife, Callista, is a lifelong Catholic and has been a member of the choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., for 15 years. Although I was Southern Baptist, I had attended Mass with Callista every Sunday at the Basilica to watch her sing with the choir.”
Gingrich became involved with Callista, a House aide, while still married to his second wife Marianne. The House Speaker was at the time traveling the country denouncing President Clinton’s moral behavior. He and Callista were married in 2000.
Gingrich writes, a well, of seeing Pope Benedict XVI when the pontiff toured the United States in 2008. The pope celebrated a large open-air mass in Washington, D.C.
“Catching a glimpse of Pope Benedict that day, I was struck by the happiness and peacefulness he exuded,” Gingrich wrote. “The joyful and radiating presence of the Holy Father was a moment of confirmation about the many things I had been thinking and experiencing for several years.”
“That evening, I told Msgr. Rossi I wanted to be received into the Catholic Church, and he agreed to join Callista as my sponsor. Under his tutelage I studied the Catechism of the Church over the next year and was received into the Church in March of 2009 in a beautiful Mass at St. Joseph’s on Capitol Hill.”
Gingrich is one of several prominent American conservatives to join the Catholic Church.
The list includes the late columnist Robert Novak, Discovery Institute president Bruce Chapman, and former New York gubernatorial candidate Lewis Lehrman.
There is a phrase from a really bad book by Bernard Malamud which was turned into one of the best baseball movies ever made, The Natural. One of Roy Hobbs redemptive characters, the woman he loved when he was young, before he made stupid and life-changing mistakes, said to him that we have two lives, the life we learn with and the life we live afterward.
I suspect many of us resonate with that.