The Church invites us Christians to a permanent, perfect and definitive conversion. It is a challenge for all of us. It motivates us to review our own road to conversion, our personal progress toward sanctity.
What does conversion mean?
It is a serious, profound and total change which encompasses the entire person. It is a change of mindset, an interior change, a change of interior attitudes which leads us to also transform our entire exterior life. Conversion entails the ongoing mastery on holding our thoughts captive. (Philippians 4:8)
The first conversion.
A first conversion exists in the life of each Christian. We were all converted on the day of our Baptism. Through grace and divine strength, God radically changed our life. He called us to live as redeemed persons, as dear children of God, but we did not participate much in that conversion.
The second conversion.
Therefore, in the life of every authentic Christian, there should be a second conversion. One must become aware that being Christian is more than experiencing customs, traditions and even Christian routines. The Sacramental grace requires our free response. Through the Sacraments God has bounded himself to us, giving us the opportunity to bind ourselves to him. One must make a very personal decision to live a Christian life, a dedicated life, a generous and committed life – through personal conviction.
This definite conversion means to open one’s entire being to God, for the first time, or on a return to God’s household as his beloved prodigal son, who returns with humility and appreciation for God’s love. Love of God is best expressed on charitable service to our brothers and sisters. This charity goes beyond financial support, it entails compassion, forgiveness, meekness of heart, selfless giving of one’s own time and talents for the salvation of others.
The best way of attaining this conversion is through the Sacraments. Receiving the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion as often as possible is paramount. We must make the best effort on moving away from the sins confessed. Our Lenten confessions should be definitive steps toward a sincere and radical change.
The way in which moving away from the sins confessed becomes reality in our lives is through daily prayer. We must the time for daily prayer: Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, meditation of the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, spontaneous conversations with Christ. Make the point of quieting your soul to listen to God’s answer to your prayer. Praying is not so much about what we tell God, because he already knows all things, it is about what God tells us about the situation we lift up to him. So pay attention to the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit.
One cannot love what he does not know. So to reflect Christ, you must know him personally. Attend Bible study, learn about the lives of the Saints, and read the Catechism. Make this a constant in your life.
Perhaps we have a very simple concept of what conversion is: to go from a situation of atheism or moral corruption to faith or to a righteous life. It is true, conversions of this type exist: a radical change of journey, the decision for a new life. We have a well-known example of this in Saint Paul. Other examples are Saint Augustine, Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Charles de Foucauld, etc.
We can even say that the history of the Church is the history of its conversions and renewals, the history of its great converts throughout the centuries.
Also at the present time, we find movements which motivate radical conversion: for example, the Cursillo Movement, the Charismatic Renewal Movement, etc.
But there is also another way, a more common way of conversion. It has to do with persons who do not change their lives in drastic ways, so instantaneously. They do not make such noticeable changes overnight.
We all know that conversion normally does not take place from one day to the next. It is a long process of change, a permanent conversion. It consists in small conversions, daily conversions. It is the decision we make each day to accept Christ’s invitation to take up our own crosses to follow him. (Matthew 10:38).
They are persons who elevate their lives without ceasing. Each year they can be seen as more generous, more faithful, more peaceful. They are the men and women of small conversions, of “daily conversions.” I suppose and hope that all of us belong to this type of converts.
The fire of conversion.
We could express these two forms of conversion through an image: conversion is like a fire. Let us recall the words of Jesus: “I came to set the earth on fire” (Luke 12:49), and all of the converts have been attracted by that fire of Jesus. For some it is like a fire which suddenly embraces them and everything changes. For others, undoubtedly the great majority, the fire is discrete, slow, interior but constant; it is a fire which illumines, warms, purifies; it revives permanently and extends itself.
Let us ask Mary and Jesus to awaken in us a great desire to change, and let us also ask them to give us the grace of a permanent transformation.
Questions for Reflection
1. Am I in the first or the second conversion?
2. On what concrete point can I strive to change?
3. Do I know the lives of the great converts?
If you wish to subscribe, comment on the text or give your testimony, write to: [email protected]
Translation: Carlos Cantú
Edited by: Catholic.net
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