Deign to recall the errant and convert the infidel, O Lord!

Caravaggio - Conversione di san Paolo
Conversione di san Paolo | Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio | 1600–1601

Good things can come from the unlikeliest sources and appear in the most unexpected of places. As we have said this once on the subject of the literary history of the Fatima hymn, so we apply it now on the conversion of Saint Paul. Before his conversion, Paul was Saul, an avowed persecutor Ecclesiæ, who watched over the garments of those who stoned Saint Stephen. Who would have thought he would become apostolus gentium? In fact, he went out of his way to go to Damascus to destroy its Christian community once and for all. But en route, his most unexpected conversion took place! Who would have thought that someone who seemed irrevocably beyond conversion, for all the world cared, would actually be capable of accepting the Lord?

Preaching to Bagobo
Father Mateo Gisbert, S. J. exhorting the Bagobo to abandon their practice of human sacrifice (image from The inhabitants of the Philippines)

This great moment is what Holy Mother Church celebrates today! Though partially dampened by the severing of the Petrine connection from a week earlier, and the unconscionable reduction of the feast to third class, we join in the remembrance. Today as well is the last day of the octave promoted by pious priests, practiced by devout layfolk, approved by Holy Mother Church, decorated with indulgences by Supreme Pontiffs for the unity of the Church, for the return of those astray into the one true fold of Christ, and for the conversion of those grasping in the darkness of old and new heathenry.

Baptising moros
Jesuits baptising forty-two moros along the banks of the Hijo River in Davao (image from the Jesuit Archives)

Ut omnes errantesAnd so we wish to close this octave with this forgotten piece of music—nothing fancy (click the thumbnail to open the sheet music)—which once lifted prayers in the hallowed vaults of the churches of ancient Intramuros, salvaged from the War that almost succeeded in reducing the Walled City, if not to cinders, to rubble. Ut unum sint is a simple lemma as it stands. And yet, modernists and ecumenists—oh, do remind us if there is a difference between the two!—parse this differently, radically (non sequitur, that is) interpreting its ramifications, and turning it into a slogan for that school of thought obsessed with the equality of religions. There can never be oneness in faith if we continue humouring heretics to persist in their vintage errors for the sake of practicing our diplomacy, or encouraging pagans to uphold their way of life for the sake of studying their culture. Dialogue and anthropology are not tickets to heaven. Never were. Never will be. Let us, therefore, continue praying that everyone, those astray and the unbelievers, come to that true unity in the Catholic faith.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.

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