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At the Gate of Bliss

Catholic Converts Information Page


At the Gate of Bliss:
Catholic Converts
Information Page

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Last Updated: April 2, 1999
Contact: gateofbliss@worldnet.att.net
1999 William M. Klimon

 

What heav'n-entreated heart is this?
Stands trembling at the gate of bliss;
Holds fast the door, yet dares not venture
Fairly to open it, and enter
Whose definition is a doubt
Twixt life and death, twixt in and out.

--Richard Crashaw, To The Countess of Denby


This page is dedicated to all the men and women, through the centuries, who have pushed through the Gate of Bliss and entered into the fullness of Christ's Church, the pillar and ground of truth (1 Timothy 3:15), including the many converts who have played a part in my life, especially my grandmother Irene.

Conversion used in the religious context has two distinct meanings:

  • The reformation of one's life, the turning from sin to grace, a change of heart, what the New Testament calls metanoia ("repentance"), and what the Rule of St. Benedict calls conversio morum ("change of character").
  • The formal change of religious affiliation, resulting (in this case) in entry into full communion with the Catholic Church and the bishop of the Holy Roman Church.  This category includes those who at one time adhered to the Catholic communion, formally left that communion, and then returned to it.

Many (if not all) of the saints of the Church are converts in the first sense.  They are often types of the "rich young man" (Matthew 19:16-22), who instead of going away sorrowful, have given up their former lives and followed the Lord.  One thinks of SS. Anthony the Great, Francis of Assisi, and Francis Xavier.
 
The converts featured in At the Gate of Bliss are converts in the second sense. But, as Msgr. Ronald A. Knox, himself one of the great converts of the early twentieth century, said, "Essentially, all conversion is one.  The same thing happens when a Protestant receives the gift of faith as happens when a drunkard at a parish mission gets the grace to live sober; as happens in a retreat, when some soul, after many hestitations, decides to give itself up more completely to God--perhaps in the life of the cloister.  It is God's will taking over, and man's will saying 'Carry on.'"

 


This page has had visitors since September 11, 1998.
 

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