In hindsight it was inevitable. But at the time I couldn’t think of anything more calamitous than becoming Catholic. I was studying at an Anglican seminary, Nashotah House in Wisconsin, when my wife and I began to examine the historical and scriptural arguments for Catholicism.

I discussed them with my classmate Will. Together we read John Henry Newman’s Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. Will was a faster reader than me, and he finished first.

“Can I come in?” he asked one night, knocking on my door. I invited him into the living room. “I believe,” he said. Will’s eyes were bright with emotion though he looked worn, pale around the gills. He opened to the last page of Newman’s book and read the invitation to convert to Catholicism:

Time is short, eternity is long. Put not from you what you have found; regard it not as mere matter of present controversy; set not out resolved to refute it, and looking for the best way to do so; seduce not yourself with the imagination that it comes of disappointment, or disgust, or restlessness, or wounded feeling, or undue sensibility, or other weakness. Wrap not yourself round in the associations of years past, nor determine that to be truth which you wish to be so, nor make an idol of cherished anticipations. Time is short, eternity is long.

There was an awkward silence for a moment. “I believe,” Will said, tears streaming down his face. “I’m going to become Catholic.”

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