It was a veritable miracle which brought about the change of ideals and transformation of life involved in my acceptance of truth, and the gratitude of my heart is expressed in the words of the psalmist, "Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what He hath done for my soul."
I was born a Catholic, and on my first day of life the priest pronounced me a member of the Roman Catholic Church. When about twelve years of age I was brought more fully into the Roman Church, and pronounced a full-fledged member, by the sacrament of confirmation. As I look back over my childhood, it is with saddened memories. I was a diligent student of the catechisms, and received a thorough education in Catholic schools. Life in the convent appealed to me, and it was my ambition and the wish of my parents that I become a nun.
I sat many times under the teaching of the Redemptorist Order, which specializes in instruction concerning purgatory and the fires of hell. My youthful mind never perceived God as a loving Father, or Christ as one who died for my sins because He loved me. God was pictured to me as a tyrant, ever seeking to bring vengeance to all who were guilty of mortal sin. So fearful was I that I might fail to confess to the priest all my sins, and so day by day be piling up condemnation against my soul which would confine me to the fires of purgatory or hell, that I wished a thousand times I had never been born. Only those who have passed through the experience, can understand what fear and suffering harass the mind of the devout Catholic.
My home was in Ireland. My people stood high in political circles, and many close connections with the priesthood centered in our family. But as I grew to womanhood, I was attracted by the allurements on the other side of the water, and determined that I would go to America. This was far from being in accord with my parents' plans for my life, but because of my determination to visit the United States, and in the hope that the voyage and change of scene might benefit my health, they reluctantly gave consent.
Not many months after my arrival in New York, the World War broke out. I was making my home with distant relatives in New York City, and was endeavoring to be true to every requirement imposed by the church, in the hope of gaining freedom from condemnation. But there was no peace nor contentment in my life. I was a great reader, and eagerly sought for anything pertaining to the war. In some way it had been brought to my attention that the Bible speaks concerning conditions in modern times, and that there is in it some prediction about a great war. I had read some of Tolstoy's works, which afforded much food for thought, but I was completely dazed and bewildered, longing for some ray of light to pierce the darkness which surrounded my soul.
About that time I came in contact with a, Christian lady who was connected with city mission work. She came to call, bringing with her a Protestant Bible, and read to me the second commandment and told me that I, as a Catholic, was violating that commandment. I was brought up to believe that the Bible was tainted with Protestantism, and was convinced in my own mind that all Protestants would fare very badly when they came up before St. Peter. I promptly told this Christian woman to lay her Bible aside, and unless she did, I would never talk with her again.
A little later there came into my hands a book entitled "Our Near Future," by Redding, which deepened my interest. The statements in that book, taken from the word of God, made such an impression on my mind that I felt willing to hear what the Bible taught, and because of this change of attitude I attended a service in a Protestant church, as it was announced that the speaker would explain the cause of the World War and the indications of the end of the world. My attention was called to this service by one of my Protestant friends, who assured me that if I would go with her to the lecture, I would hear an explanation of many things that were troubling me. But even though I ventured so far as to attend a Protestant service, where the word of God was explained, never once did the thought occur to me that I would ever leave the Roman Church.
A few days later I saw an advertisement in one of the leading dailies, announcing a lecture to be given in a theater, on the subject, "Will This Generation Pass Away Before We Witness the Second Coming of Christ?" I attended that theater meeting, and never will the memory of it fade from my mind. Although I did not know it at that time, and would not have understood the meaning if I had been told, this lecture was given by a Seventh-day Adventist evangelist. I recall the strange feeling that came over me when, in the opening of that meeting, the minister knelt before the audience and poured out his heart in prayer to God. It was the first time that I had heard any person pray directly to God. I had always been taught to pray to the saints. Then as the evangelist opened the sure word of prophecy, there came a conviction into my heart that the Bible is inspired of God.
About the first thing I did the following day was to purchase a Bible—the Douay Version. I did not know just how to use it, but I desired above everything else in the world to find out what it contained. I attended mass on Sunday morning, as usual, but in the evening I went to the theater meeting, and kept up this program for some time, attending the evangelist's Thursday evening meetings also whenever possible.
Gradually there dawned on my darkened mind the fact that Christ died for my sins, and that He did this because of His love for me; and O how I loved Him! All fear of the fires of purgatory and hell was removed. I felt that I would willingly go through purgatory or the fires of hell, if that was the will of God, because the love in my heart for Him was so great as to cast out all fear of anything He might ask me to do. There was no reserve in my submission. I had not been told of the various doctrines held by the denomination which the evangelist represented, but I had found my Saviour, and all else in this world was nothing in comparison with the joy and peace which filled my heart. I had been a typical young woman of the world; but when Christ revealed Himself to me as my personal loving Saviour and Friend, I instinctively gave up theaters, dancing, and card playing, and made dietetic changes, such as giving up tea, coffee, wine, meat, et cetera. Somehow these things were taken out of my life without a struggle, because I realized that they were displeasing to my Saviour.
The very thought that Christ was coming in my day filled my heart with such joy that I was willing to do anything for Him. When I entered the subway to go across the city, the thought used to come to me, "I wonder if my Saviour will come before I get out of this subway, so that I cannot be among the first to welcome Him." And at dawn I would often stand at my window and long to see my Saviour coming in the clouds.
It was just at this stage in my experience that there came the test of a great crisis in my life.
A Bible Worker.