For the Journey Home

Posted by Webster 
Every time I watch “The Journey Home” on EWTN, I learn more reasons why I did not become Catholic. Which is to say, I realize more deeply how quirky and individual my own journey has been. And I gain renewed respect for the intellectual and spiritual depth of other Catholic converts, who frankly had better reasons than I did.

Last night was no exception. Marcus Grodi’s two-part show (the second part to be shown next week) featured interviews with three American Catholic priests who had converted as married Anglican clergymen: Frs. Eric Bergman, Dwight Longenecker, and Ray Ryland. The occasion for this show was the Vatican’s recent opening to the Anglican communion.

It is one thing to have converted, as I did, through the intercession of movies, angels, Popes, musicals, rosaries, pastors, a loving wife, a grandmother named Mary, mentors, amazing women, books, saints, other miscellaneous fragments of Christian culture, and the enduring love of God. (Can you spell personal-history linkathon?)

But these guys—Fathers Eric, Dwight, and Ray—they have deeply considered reasons for having converted, complex ideas they had to struggle to come to terms with as highly educated and passionately committed Anglicans. What an impressive trio! I am proud to be considered one of their company as a fellow convert, though I am not worthy to wash their theological feet.

The idea that came like a revelation to me last night—you’ll laugh at my ignorance—is that these three priests converted, bottom line, because each came to realize that in the Anglican or Episcopal Church, there is no ultimate authority. No Pope, no Catechism. So we are left with the sad spectacle of the entire Anglican experiment in America (called Episcopalian after the Revolution to distinguish it from the British experiment) splintering likc kindling under the axe of Paul Bunyan.

If I were still an Episcopalian today, as I was over 40 years ago, I don’t know what I would do.

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  • I love The Journey Home. For people who don't have EWTN, you can listen to it in podcast form from the EWTN website.Father Longenecker has a fantastic blog at

  • EPG

    Webster wrote (in part): "If I were still an Episcopalian today, as I was over 40 years ago, I don’t know what I would do."As you know, I am an Episcopalian (although, given the current state of the Episcopal Church, I more often call myself an Anglican), and I do not know what I am going to do, except . . . Take it day by day, week by week, for the most part. Think a lot (although I should probably pray more than merely think). Visit Catholic parishes. Talk to a lot of Catholics, both in person and in forums such as this. Visit Orthodox churches. Talk to Orthodox Christians (not that there are many in my neck of the woods). Pray some more. Think some more. Read some more. Ponder what Rome's recent overture to certain Anglicans may mean here, on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Consider the examples of those interviewed. Consider also the examples of three Episcopal bishops who were recieved in the Catholic church within the span of twelve months — the bishops of Albany, Rio Grande, and my own diocese of Southwest Florida. When I'm not visiting Catholic or Orthodox parishes, keep attending at Episcopal parishes that haven't gone too far off the rails. Keep praying. Learn to pray better.

  • Warren Jewell

    It's all the same, Brother Webster. We become His when we encounter Him as Truth. We sometimes don't even see our reasons because they are mainly His, that He has so generously bestowed upon us.You know, every confession is a new conversion to our Lord. Maybe a definition of 'devout' is 'converting over and over again'. We drifted away, and now He has brought us back. We went prodigal, but we're not going to have to live with swine or live on swine leftovers. He's having a big party for us, once again.Truth sets us free to say 'Yes' over and over again to Him. And, we all either search for truth, or die so horribly for not trying.

  • Webster Bull

    EPG, ThanksI thought of you while writing this post. Your comment is thoughtful and generous, as always.

  • Webster Bull

    And to Warren—Yes, it is all the same, which is why my list of influences ends with "the enduring love of God." Everything else is commentary. And what a beautiful thought you offer, Warren–that “every confession is a new conversion to our Lord.” That will get me to confession this week!

  • Webster, I am firmly convinced that each person's journey to Rome is unique to him- or herself — that our Lord loves us enough to draw us onward in the right way for each.That said, I love reading the accounts of others' conversions — and I've found much that is very helpful at Fr. Longenecker's website and his blog, Standing on My Head (the phrase is from Chesterton and appears in your Comments of the Week, below).

  • Webster Bull

    Thanks, Laura. Fr. Longenecker is a very impressive fellow, and I will check out his blog.