If You Read Only One Conversion Story This Lent

Catholics celebrated the First Scrutiny yesterday. In case you are wondering what that was all about, the Catechism informs us:

Because they are asking for the three sacraments of initiation, the elect must have the intention of achieving an intimate knowledge of Christ and his Church, and they are expected particularly to progress in genuine self-knowledge through serious examination of their lives and true repentance. In order to inspire in the elect a desire for purification and redemption by Christ, three scrutinies are celebrated. By this means, first of all, the elect are instructed gradually about the mystery of sin, from which the whole world and every person longs to be delivered and thus saved from its present and future consequences. Second, their spirit is filled with Christ the Redeemer, who is the living water (gospel of the Samaritan woman in the first scrutiny), the light of the world (gospel of the man born blind in the second scrutiny), the resurrection and the life (gospel of Lazarus in the third scrutiny). From the first to the final scrutiny the elect should progress in their perception of sin and their desire for salvation.

The three Scrutinies take place every year during Lent, and it can mean only one thing: The Converts Are Coming!! And my heart is filled with joy!!!

Every convert has a story to tell, and you would do well to get to know the Candidates and Catechumens at your parish for the sake of mutual encouragement – I say this as a convert, and as a Catholic for nearly 10 years. For most of us converts, our conversion to Catholicism was a slow process, a lot of still, small voices, a lot of little and large light bulbs lighting up in the dim recesses, a lot of painstaking work through the “math.” Justin Geldart’s conversion in 2010 was no different – and he has finally written up his conversion story. If you read only one conversion story this Lent, I urge you to read this one! In his own words:

“I couldn’t simply start my own church because I couldn’t find a church that agreed with me. I would only be able to start a church if I had been validly sent by a church ministry which had the authority to send. But I never worked this understanding to its logical conclusion, i.e., where did John Calvin get his authority from?… All Protestant pastors… can only trace their authority back as far as someone who somewhere along the line assumed authority for himself. That’s when I realized that the Reformers had no right whatsoever to leave the Church of Jesus Christ and assume their own authority in setting up churches according to their own whims. Unfortunately, that is what happened. And every single Christian denomination that has set itself up since then has at some point adopted a self-appointed authority.”

How did a nice, young South African go from this:

“The seeds for our conversion were probably planted way back when we were part of a dispensational independent Baptist church in South Africa.”

To this?

“…we weren’t in New Zealand for long before God brought us back to Himself. We got involved in a local dispensational independent Baptist church and everything was going along just fine. I was appointed as a deacon in the church, and I was working closely with the pastor with the intention of training for the pastorate. That was until an old friend from the Baptist church in South Africa told us that their church had gone through a major eschatalogical shift based on a verse-by-verse exposition of Matthew 24. Well, I studied and studied and studied Matthew 24 and ended up coming to the same conclusions as them.”

To this?

“As I studied, I was becoming more and more influenced by Reformed thinking – which led us to start fellowshipping with Reformed Baptists. But, as I got deeper into Reformed theology, a lot of my previous theology started to unravel.”

To this?

“As I began to understand the idea of covenant, I saw that “believers’ only” baptism wasn’t biblical either. Rather, the very essence of covenant necessitates that our children are included, and so I became fully Reformed… Being fully Reformed, I delved more and more into Reformed theology, with particular focus on the spearhead of the Reformation, i.e., Sola Scriptura. In addition, John Calvin became a big focus because, of all the Reformers, I believed he had the best grasp on the issues….”

To this?

“By God’s providence, at around the same time I had been in contact with a Reformed Episcopalian priest. In my discussions with him, he helped me to see the value of tradition in the history of the Church (but specifically in the Anglican way of only wanting to accept the first 5 centuries)…. He also helped me to see the importance of the succession of authority in the Church. He showed me that towards the end of his ministry, John Calvin regretted the way that he had tampered with church government, and how he hoped to restore an episcopal order in the church so that the various churches in Europe that had arisen due to the “free thinking” of the Reformation could be united.”


“God had led me to the treasury of truth openly displayed in the Catholic Church – the last place on earth I would ever have dreamed of finding it…. If this is the beginning, I can’t wait to see the depth and majesty of the treasures that God has in store. O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are His judgments, and how unsearchable His ways!”

Don’t content yourself with snippets – feast on the whole meal! Our converts are like rain upon a parched field! The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing!

At least that’s how I feel when I read stories like this one! Glory to God! Head on over to Veritas Lux Mea, and wish Justin and his family a great big WELCOME HOME!

On the memorial of St. Casimir

Deo omnis gloria!


Photo credit:  Bombeta de Llum by “1997”

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