“Think for a moment of the long chain of thorns or flowers that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day"
For me that link seems always to be associated with the start of a love story.
Since this is kind of Belloc birthday celebration his love story is worthy of note.
From Anthony Cooney review of
Old Thunder A Life of Hilaire Belloc by Joe Pearce
“…he remained dissatisfied, until one day in early summer, 1890, he visited his mother. There were other visitors; An American widow, Mrs. Hogan and her two daughters, Elizabeth and Elodie. Belloc immediately decided that Elodie was the woman he would marry. He had fallen irrevocably in love, and the feeling was reciprocal.
It would be impossible to overstate the all encompassing love of Hilaire and Elodie which overcame the doubts on Elodie's part (she was half persuaded that she wished to be a nun), the difficulties placed in their way by family, the distance apart when Elodie returned to California, the final sorrow of bereavement, but equally impossible to understate it, for no author or poet has that art. Pearce therefore wisely and without romantic flourish, simply narrates the circumstances, casting rays of light upon them with sparse quotations from the lovers' letters, but surely this was one of the great love stories of the century? Pearce does reveal that Belloc, although he traveled steerage, did not "work his passage" to New York, and, contrary to popular legend, did not walk across America, but traveled by train. However, rejected by Elodie upon her mother's insistence, it does seem that he walked all, or most of, the way back.
As in all true faerie stories, Hilaire married his princess, but not before he had completed nine months military service in the army of France, the army, still of Napoleon, and taken his First Class Honours at Oxford , where he was elected President of the Union. Failing to obtain a fellowship he became an extension lecturer and continued to earn money by journalism. Elodie's vocation having been tried and failed, nothing now prevented their engagement. In 1896 Belloc hastened to America where he found Elodie dangerously ill as the result of a nervous breakdown, and here we have the first incidence of that wanderlust which the contemporary mind will find inexplicable and which, I suspect will leave the contemporary female mind spitting feathers! Belloc, distressed at Elodie's condition "went to pieces". Happily she recovered and began to convalesce, so Belloc went off on a "short" walking holiday in the Daiblo mountains! Belloc and Elodie were married in California on 15th June, 1896 and shortly after returned to London where Belloc began to make a name for himself with the publication of two books of verse, Verses and Sonnets and the immensely popular and much reprinted The Bad Child's Books of Beasts.”
(Entire review here)
One ‘down side’ of an all consuming Love is the secular world hates you for it. They see Love as the proof against their position and that really sets them off. Belloc was thus attacked.
“It seemed the mob wanted to demythologise at least one-half of the great juggernaut of 20th-century Catholicism, the "Chesterbelloc". Belloc is an affront to the modern academy and its obsession with scientific measurement and specialization. Belloc does not talk about his subjects as an "expert," but as a lover who looks beyond blemishes to what is good and beautiful.” Scott J. Bloch
(Entire article here)
What an absurd statement. Should I talk to you about the bad hair days of my wife or the occasional pimple on her nose or the years of caring self sacrifice and does that pimple negate the good? Or should I judge my marriage by the time she got angry at me for leaving my underwear on the floor or when she sat by me during those scary days?
Should the work of Einstein be discredited because he was not that good at the violin, provoking more than one competent musician to bellow at him, “Can’t you count?!”
Help me out here, how can you strive to be an expert of something if you do not Love it? Is it because critics do not understand what love is? Or is being an expert just a cold observer? If so it would not be able to get to the cause or prime mover of an event or thing because it all starts with Love no matter how it ends up. An expert thinks Love is blind “Love is not blind it is bound.” (GKC)
Belloc made a vow to stay true to the Church and to his wife he “would not yield”. You can not stay true unless you stay in Love. (See, A Defense of Rash Vows)
On the Battle for Joy front:
“The joy of evangelization must start with the joy of the evangelist. St. Francis was a joyful evangelist. He knew the importance of joy as a powerful weapon in our spiritual warfare. He used to say, “The Devil cannot harm the servant of God he sees filled with holy joy!”
This saint taught that the Devil goes around scattering a dust of sadness and discouragement, which he called “that Babylonian stuff.” (Remember how sad the Jewish people were during their exile in Babylon. They could not even sing the “songs of the Lord” in such a foreign land. See Psalm 137.) However, St. Francis said that if we are covered with the armor of joy, the devil scatters his “Babylonian dust” in vain.”
(For complete story see Never Stop Singing by Fr. Andrew Apostoli)