At the Gate of Bliss:
in the New Testament
Convert WWW Pages
in The Catholic Encyclopedia
Works by Converts
Online Convert Testimonies
Bibliographies, and Printed Convert Literature
Last Updated: April 2, 1999
© 1999 William M. Klimon
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.'"
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