Thirty Years in Hell - Ex-Priest, Bernard Fresenborg & HOW TO BE SAVED
"From Darkness to Light."
Ex-Priest, Bernard Fresenborg
Who I Am, What I Am, and Why I Am What I Am.
My parents were Catholics, and for this reason I suppose, is why I became a Catholic Priest.
I was born in Germany, in 1847, thus you see I am now almost what the world would call an old man--56 years old.
A few years ago, I was of the opinion that my life had been well spent, but to-day I firmly believe that the major part of my life has been spent in erroneous doctrines and nonsensical teachings, as the broad light of wisdom and independent thought has penetrated the dark resources of my bewildered conception of right, and has caused me to look upon things in general in an intelligent manner. Therefore, I feel that my youth and the vigorous years of my manhood have been spent in what one might term idolatry. From this time forward I am going to endeavor to undo, as near as possible, what I have helped to accomplish in the past.
In the first place, I desire to give the reader an idea of who I am, as the reader is entitled to this knowledge, and in the second place I want the reader to understand what I am, and in the third place to understand why I am what I am, as there must be a reason for all things.
My ancestors came from Sweden, but becoming tired of religious warfare under Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, they settled in a Catholic colony in Germany, in the southern part of the Dukedom of Oldenburg, near the River Haase.
The reader, if he be a Protestant, is familiar with Protestant affiliations, and I am led to believe belongs to one of the many Protestant denominations, known under the head of Methodist, Baptist, Christian, United Brethren, Presbyterian, Free Baptist. or some one of the many other Protestant Churches. Therefore you can easily see why it was that I became. a Catholic, as I was taught it from my infancy.
My father, like his ancestors, lived in Essen, Oldenburg. Essen is a town of considerable trade in grain, in fine Oldenburg horses and Holstein cows, in fact, it is a town noted for its fine stock.
The beautiful town of Essen has a considerable population. Two fine rivers, which unite their rapid waters in its very midst, make it an ideal spot to live.
My relatives were among the first and best families of the Dukedom. These families were by name Dickmann, Meyer, Junker and Mohlenkamp, who are at the head of the intellectual and material movements of that place. They are all related by marriage and intermarriage to the Fresenborgs. My parents had ten children. This, however, may not interest the reader, so I will confine myself to my own biography.
The school to which I was sent was one of the leading schools and had a world-wide reputation, especially of sending many scholars and students to the gymnasium and afterwards to universities for different branches of sciences.
It seems as though all of those who attended this school became successful in their individual careers, as lawyers, doctors or some other of the chosen avocations of life.
I was raised, I might say under the walls of the free City of Bremen, and was inspired with the idea of freedom, and this, perhaps, may be the reason why, when I have come to be an old man, that I have shaken off this eternal bondage of Catholicism and launched my boat so late in life upon the broad waters of Protestant freedom.
As the son of a wealthy family, I was sent to the Gymnasium of Vechta for higher studies, where I received the best education which Germany could ,give to her sons, and from there I was dismissed with the diploma of "Maturity" in 1870, which was a passport to any man holding such a diploma in any scholarly community, for a diploma from this institution meant all that it implied.
After I had gone through a perfect study of Gymnasium, and after having obtained my diploma, I could then decide for any career that I might choose.
About this time came the disturbance of all of Germany caused by "The German-French War." Like every patriot, I volunteered as a soldier, but the officers in the German army were practical men and they had little use for unseasoned "student soldiers" in the field of action, and I was left in garrisons where universities were situated, where I had military practice for a few hours each day, and then could follow my studies at the same time.
Peace followed quickly after the Waterloo of Napoleon III at Sedan, and this peace was restored quickly in the "fatherland," as not one victorious Frenchman had crossed the "Rhine."
I followed my favorite study, forestry and agriculture, for some time, but as my parents and my forefathers, both on my father's and mother's side, had been devout Catholics, I had an earnest longing to become a Catholic Priest, as I desired to go forth in the world and proclaim the cause of Christ, believing that Catholicism was the only church which had a right to establish her doctrines, and, of course, cast my lot with this church, and to-day finds me an old man with every vestige of childhood's faith shaken from center to circumference, as I have lived in America so long and seen so much of the intelligence of Protestantism, and so much of the deception of Catholicism, I could not remain in the Catholic Church and be true to my conception of what was right and wrong, therefore I laid aside, with a degree of regret, the relies of Catholic barbarism.
I discarded the Scapular and everything that has no more intelligent meaning to it than the cungering devices of the heathen has towards the uplifting of humanity and the civilization of the world.
Many, many years ago my faith was shaken by what I had seen with my own eyes and heard with my own cars, but I nursed my religious belief from my mother's bosom; my religion was born and bred in my bones; every drop of blood in my person was electrified in childhood by the cungerings of Catholic ledgerdemain, and I was taught at my mother's knee to believe that there was no other church that had a ghost of a chance of eternal salvation but the Catholic Church, and I was taught that all Protestant, were heretics and abominable in the sight of God and sure of eternal damnation, unless they turned from their sins and joined the Catholic Church.
Oftimes I would have my faith shaken by the actions of some lustful priest, but I clung tenaciously to the religion of my mother and refused to look beyond the horizon of Catholic superstition.