Rob, at Coming Home Network, has sent me a splendid old conversion story written by James Kent Stone, (sometime president of Kenyon and Hobart Colleges) and published in 1869.
It is written in a robust and eloquent style, and is full of a bracing kind of Catholic convert triumphalism one doesn’t see much of in this somewhat spineless age. The book is full of juicy one liners: Stone relates how the atheists reserve most of their ammunition for the Catholic Church: They look at the whole matter from a distance, and from what they consider a higher plane. Now these men with their clear, cool heads, see well enough that Christianity and Catholicism are one and the same thing, and that Protestantism of all degrees is only a recent and very poor imitation of the old religion, and that the sects of the day are but the stragglers which hand on the skirts of the great army of the Church.
It is also replete with quotes from other writers. So on the perpetuity of the Catholic Church he quotes the florid and splendidly baroque historian Macaulay: There is not, and there never was on this earth, a work of human policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman Catholic Church. The history of that Church joins together the two great ages of human civilization. No other institution is left standing which carries the mind back to the times when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, and when the camelopards and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheater. The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth. and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable. The republic of Venice came next in antiquity, but the republic of Venice was modern when compared wit the papacy and the republic of Venice is gone and the papacy remains. The papacy remains not in decay, not a mere antique but full of life and useful vigor…she was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot in Britain and before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished in Antioch and when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca; and she may still exist in undiminished vigor when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of great solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St Paul’s.
William Tighe–history professor at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania sent me another dusty old conversion story called Salve Mater by Frederick Joseph Kinsman. I’m encouraging Coming Home Network to publish these old conversion stories for our edification.