I have belonged to three religions in my life. I was christened in the Presbyterian church in Griffin on March 21, 1852. My family attended that church until my mama passed away, but during the last time of her life, the Methodist minister was the one to whom she turned for comfort, as well as spiritual communion and advice. She was brought up in the Methodist church and still believed it, though she had gone with the Major, and taken me, for all those years. The church was the centre of social life in those days. My mama worked always, especially for the poorer parishioners, and there were some ladies who would come to help me in turn, and to drop in for tea with my mama. In the end though, my mama, who was thoughtful and honest could not bear to hold back her theological differences with the Presbyterian church.
When my mama passed away, she left to me a letter, explaining her faith and expressing that she wished me to join the Methodist church, for the good of my soul. Specifically, she believed one's will
should determine ones salvation - that one should make a decision
to be a Christian with every act, and that that would lead to salvation.
The Presbyterian's held that one was saved by Christ's love and death on Calvary alone
. She was worried for me - that I would take salvation for granted and not grow up to be an actively
good man. I understood her, for it was what she had been telling me all her life, with her goodness and her actions, and I joined the church in which she believed forthwith and did not go with the Major and co. to his church again. She loved me so, and I wanted very much, beyond anything, for to be proud of me, in Heaven. I have always tried to do that - to be actively good, and to do my very best, not for salvation, but for God, to whom we owe everything, and whose Plan is for incomprehensible glory and perfection.
I came to Texas in 1873, and set out to be a model citizen and joined the temperance league, wearing a blue ribbon on my lapel. We had nights of chocolate and sing songs, which reminded me of home. My hopes for a quiet life became unrealistic. I was no longer welcome in churches or amongst 'good' people. I was never able to hold with this intolerance, not just for myself but for my friends, unwelcome as well. Is was, as far as I was concerned, working against God, and against all my mama had ever taught me. She was good and kind and believed in helping everyone, and in being a good example to those less... presentable. I was always taught to remove my hat and exhibit politeness to any adult, and when any at all, even the lowest of society was in need of help or kindness, my mama would have offered assistance with respect. 'There but for the grace of God go I.' If the churches were not going to endure my presence or accept my prayers and communion along with theirs, I wanted no part of them. Admittedly, I did look internally with wistfulness and longing at the year's celebrations and gatherings, Christmas, weddings, socials - all the events of a centre of social life.
My beloved Mattie, and the remains of my mama's letter served as my spiritual guidance and companionship in those days. Mattie was lost to me as a... as a... wife, but she was my love, my muse, my confessor, the one to whom I gave in writing all that was left of my life. And she wrote in perfect faith in God and in me, expressing the same gentle tolerant spirit my mother bore for any whom she encountered. Mattie. She kept me spiritually that long time, from Dallas until her goodness and faith moved me to convert to Catholicism in a mountain town in Colorado, where it seemed always winter, but where He was so clearly present in the air so rich and clear of dust, in the vistas and in all the world. I studied and learned my catechism, made my confession, knelt to Him and was exorcised and anointed. And then, in service, fighting a fire in Leadville, I lost my life. It was the smoke that finally broke my lungs, which ailed into pneumonia, and again and again, till I could not work at all in Leadville. I went to Glenwood Springs, the healing hot springs my last hope, but the sulphur further ate my lungs, and I died. And Father Downey was my priest.
I died a Catholic.Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Word Count: 787
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Nulli Virtute Secundus