My heart offers you the tribute of its lively gratitude for your kind and charitable interest in its sorrows when I was oppressed with doubts and fears, and hastens, after the completion of its happiness, to inform you, that, through the boundless goodness of God, and aided by your very satisfactory counsels, my soul offered all its hesitations and reluctances a sacrifice to God, and on the 14th of March was admitted to the true Church of Jesus Christ, with a mind grateful and satisfied as that of a poor shipwrecked mariner on being restored to his home.
I should immediately have made a communication so pleasing to you, but have been necessarily very much engaged in collecting all the powers of my soul to receive the pledge of eternal happiness with which it has been blessed on the happy day of the Annunciation. I seemed hen to be admitted to a new life, and to the peace which passeth all understanding; and with David I now say, Thou hast saved my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling; and certainly most earnestly desire to walk before Him in the land of the living, esteeming my privilege so great, and what He has done for me so far beyond my most lively hopes, that I can scarce realize my own happiness. Pray for me, dear sir, that I may be faithful and persevere to the end; and I would beg of you advice and counsel how to preserve my inestimable blessing.
There are many good books, it is true; but directions personally addressed from a revered source most forcibly impress. For many years past I have preferred those chapters you appointed in St. John, but now (from your direction) I make it a constant rule to read them. The book you mentioned, “The Following [Imitation]of Christ,” has been my consolation through the severest struggles of my life; and, indeed, one of my first convictions of the truth arose from reflecting on the account a Protestant writer gives of Kempis, as having been remarkable for his study and knowledge of the Holy Scriptures and fervent zeal in the service of God. I remember falling on my knees, once and, with many tears inquiring of God if he who knew His Scriptures so well, and so ardently loved Him, could have been mistaken in the true faith.
Also, in reading the life of St. Francis de Sales, I felt a perfect willingness to follow him, and could not but pray that my soul might have its portion with his on the great day. The sermons of Bourdaloue have greatly helped to convince and enlighten me: one of them is always included in my daily devotions. These books and some others Mr. Filicchi, who has been the true friend of my soul, provided me with. If he did not encourage me, I do not know how I should dare to press such a long letter on your time, so fully and sacredly occupied. Pardon me in consideration of the relief it gives my heart to open itself to one who understands it, while it constantly prays that you may long be the instrument of God s glory, and the happiness of His creatures.
James J. Treacy, ed., Conquests of Our Holy Faith; Or, Testimonies of Distinguished Converts (Third Edition) (New York: Fr. Pustet & Co., 1907), 132-135.
A native of Queens, I have attended Catholic schools from grammar through graduate school. I currently teach Church History at St. Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie. I have authored three books and several articles on Catholic America, my special interests being the history of the Church in New York City and State. I feel deeply privileged to be teaching young men in formation for the Roman Catholic priesthood.