Chapter 11.

{430} A VERY few words will conduct us to the end of our history. It was Sunday morning about seven o'clock, and Charles had been admitted into the communion of the Catholic Church about an hour since. He was still kneeling in the church of the Passionists before the Tabernacle, in the possession of a deep peace and serenity of mind, which he had not thought possible on earth. It was more like the stillness which almost sensibly affects the ears when a bell that has long been tolling stops, or when a vessel, after much tossing at sea, finds itself in harbour. It was such as to throw him back in memory on his earliest years, as if he were really beginning life again. But there was more than the happiness of childhood in his heart; he seemed to feel a rock under his feet; it was the soliditas Cathedrę Petri. He went on kneeling, as if he were already in heaven, with the throne of God before him, and angels around, and as if to move were to lose his privilege.

At length he felt a light hand on his shoulder, and a voice said, "Reding, I am going; let me just say farewell to you before I go". He looked around; it was Willis, or rather Father Aloysius, in his dark Passionist {431} habit, with the white heart sewed in at his left breast. Willis carried him from the church into the sacristy. "What a joy, Reding!" he whispered, when the door closed upon them; "what a day of joy! St. Edward's day, a doubly blessed day henceforth. My Superior let me be present; but now I must go. You did not see me, but I was present through the whole."

"Oh," said Charles, "what shall I say?—the face of God! As I knelt I seemed to wish to say this, and this only, with the Patriarch, 'Now let me die, since I have seen Thy Face'."

"You, dear Reding," said Father Aloysius, "have keen fresh feelings; mine are blunted by familiarity."

"No, Willis," he made answer, "you have taken the better part betimes, while I have loitered. Too late have I known Thee, O Thou ancient Truth; too late have I found Thee, First and only Fair."

"All is well, except as sin makes it ill," said Father Aloysius; "if you have to lament loss of time before conversion, I have to lament it after. If you speak of delay, must not I of rashness? A good God overrules all things. But I must away. Do you recollect my last words when we parted in Devonshire? I have thought of them often since; they were too true then. I said, 'Our ways divide'. They are different still, yet they are the same. Whether we shall meet again here below, who knows? but there will be a meeting ere long before the Throne of God, and under the shadow of His Blessed Mother and all Saints. 'Deus manifeste veniet, Deus noster, et non silebit.'"

Reding took Father Aloysius's hand and kissed it; {432} as he sank on his knees the young priest made the sign of blessing over him. Then he vanished through the door of the sacristy; and the new convert sought his temporary cell, so happy in the Present, that he had no thoughts either for the Past or the Future.



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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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