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Ray Chidell



Dates: Born December 1960

Nationality: English

Occupation: Author, creator of this website


I converted to the Catholic Church in 1987, quite soon after getting married to a Catholic. Although I thought it a sincere action at the time, I can see with hindsight that I did not truly embrace the Catholic faith for nearly 20 more years. I know now that there is no half-way house with being Catholic – either you accept the full teachings of the Church and sincerely seek to live in accordance with those teachings, or you are not truly Catholic.


As one grows older, one gains stronger opinions on various matters – political, religious, moral, and so on. Like anyone else, I hold views on a range of matters because I believe them to be correct. But after fully embracing the Catholic faith, it is different from all other beliefs and opinions. The faith gradually (or, for some, suddenly) becomes a certainty. It is super-natural, the operation not of human reason but of God’s grace, and in the end it is not possible to convince anyone else by force of argument or persuasion.


Therein lies a paradox. Recognising the Catholic Church as Christ’s mystical body, I have an overwhelming desire to share the good news with others – hence this website, and hence a book of the same name. At the same time, though, I am increasingly aware of the futility of arguing about matters of faith. A wise priest advised me recently that no amount of books or websites will achieve anything without prayer.


In sharing my faith, I do not seek to prove that I am right or you are wrong. I just know that once I was on the other side and now I am over here and I have moved from a world in black and white to a world in rich colour, from a tune played on a penny whistle to a symphony realised by a full orchestra. If I am shouting from the rooftops it is because I have been showered with graces beyond number, and I cannot possibly wish to keep them to myself.


It is not all about a feelgood factor, though, for we are dealing with a spiritual reality, a matter so important that Christ died on the cross. In that context, I will end this entry about myself by quoting the final paragraphs from my book Why Catholic?


As Christians, we should be in no doubt that there is a spiritual battle raging invisibly around us, a battle for our eternal souls. That, indeed, is the essence of Christianity for if there is no heaven and hell then there was no need for Christ to die on the cross. As St Paul says, “if for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19).


St Paul warns us, too, that “we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). And what is Paul’s instruction, his recipe against these forces of evil? He tells us to “put on the whole armour of God”, to “gird our loins with truth” and to “take the shield of faith” (6:11 to 16).


Christians everywhere have some of the armour: all can pray, all can read the Bible, all can call on the Holy Spirit. In the Catholic Church, though, we can put on the “whole armour” for we have the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist; we have the healing sacrament of reconciliation; we have a better understanding of the role of Mary in God’s plan of salvation; we have the faith of the apostles, passed on through Tradition; we are members of the Church that has written, selected, copied and safeguarded the Scriptures. In short, we have the privilege, but also the responsibility, that comes from being full members of the Catholic Church under the successor of St Peter, the Church that Christ Himself brought into existence to teach the faith, to celebrate the Eucharist and thereby to make present through the ages His sacrifice on the cross.