A Good Friday Convert
Clare Boothe Luce was one of the most articulate and famous American women of this century. When she became a Catholic, instructed by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in 1947, it caused a sensation. She was the wife of Henry Luce of the Time and Life magazine empire. She had been a distinguished editor and writer, and had three long-running plays on Broadway. She was also a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and Ambassador to Italy.
She wrote about her conversion in beautiful terms. She said she gave “complete intellectual assent to Catholic truth” because it has the answers to the great mysteries of life and death. She was most grateful for “being absorbed in the miracle of Christ’s love.” She praised God who “gave me the desire, the eager thirst, the burning fire for seeking Him.” She felt her soul had turned from darkness, from love of self, to love of God. She had eagerly run to God, knowing of course that in reality God had come down to her.
She said a conversion is the climax of a thousand secret graces. The convert is a person who knows well that God is truly at work in the world. People, chance encounters, books read, and books unread are all instruments of God’s grace.
She wrote, “All the past, sweet and bitter, harsh and gentle, brilliant or shabby, is sowing the seed for conversion…. All things are preparations in the soul for the blossoming of faith.” But Luce said that most converts are Good Friday converts like herself. “They enter God’s kingdom through the gates of pain.” They discover that God is plowing up their hard hearts. “Grief is God’s messenger,” she wrote. “The bitterness, the anger, the tumultuous passion with which one greets this dark guest hides its blessed nature.” Luce had lost her popular, beautiful daughter in an automobile accident. She said that “gold and silver are tried in the fire.” But then despair gives way to light. Suffering can be for wayward hearts an encounter with the Divine.
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