Marshall McLuhan’s Holy Week & Conversion

Jerwood Library at Trinity Hall (Photo by Andrew Dunn, 2005)
Jerwood Library at Trinity Hall (Photo by Andrew Dunn, 2005)

Holy Week – the week known for its especially rich liturgies and devotions, is upon us. For many Catholics, Holy Saturday’s Easter Vigil Mass is the ‘favorite’ Mass of the year, when thousands formally join the Catholic Church across the globe.

For our friend Marshall McLuhan, Holy Week served as a fitting atmosphere for his transition into the Church. After his exposure to great Catholic minds such as Aquinas and Chesterton, McLuhan prayed for two years about possibly becoming Catholic. Still, he waited. His son, Eric, describes the climax:

…sometime before the Holy week in 1936, his father was among friends in Trinity Hall [at Cambridge University] and he was talking, again, about religion. At that point, one of the attendants said to him: “Marshall, since you can’t stop talking about these things, why don’t you convert?” Marshall looked at him and said: “Why not?” and a few weeks later became a Catholic. He then wrote to his father that he had become deeply troubled by the fact that he did not have a faith during his undergraduate years in Canada, and that he had prayed for two years, on his knees before he made the decision to become a Catholic. He hoped that this decision would not hurt his father’s strong Baptist feelings. Herbert McLuhan’s reaction was moderate but Marshall’s mother burst into tears and said that he would never become a university president. (Source)

Let’s challenge ourselves to let Holy Week be a time of conversion for us, too.


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