Archive for October 14, 2012

Conversion in the Year of Faith – 2

October 14, 2012

Before we dive into some of the Church’s teaching on conversion, below are 10 bad attitudes toward conversion that I have either experienced myself or encountered in others.  Can you relate to any of these?  Can you think of any others?

1 – I don’t really care about changing.  It’s not even on my radar.

2 – I feel that I’m good enough already.  The Lord accepts us as we are.  More people should be as good as I am.

3 – I’m too busy!  Too busy with all the things going on in my life to take time to do anything about changing.  The Lord will just have to accept me as I am.

4 – I know I have some weaknesses, maybe even sins.  But, hey!  Nobody’s perfect!

5 – We all have sins and imperfections.  I’ve had mine for so long that I’ve just learned to live with them.

6 – I’m not really interested in surfacing all my “inadvertent sins” (Psalm 19:13 NABRE).  They can’t be that bad if I’m not already aware of them.  Others will just have to endure them!

7 – As long as I’m a good Catholic, God’s grace will change anything in my life that needs to be changed.  God doesn’t need my help.

8 – The way I effect change in my life is “on the fly” or “by the seat of my pants” – if it changes, it changes; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.

9 – When I try to make changes in my life, I usually end up bouncing from one thing to another before significant progress is made.  I spend a week or two on one thing, then another area needing change pops up and I switch focus.

10 – I only try to change things in my life if the Spirit leads me to do so, based solely on my own discernment.

What should our attitude toward conversion really be like?

Preparing us for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, Bd John Paul II described our human journey in Tertio Millennio Adveniente:

The whole of the Christian life is like a great pilgrimage to the house of the Father, whose unconditional love for every human creature, and in particular for the ‘prodigal son’ (cf. Lk 15:11-32), we discover anew each day.  This pilgrimage takes place in the heart of each person, extends to the believing community and then reaches to the whole of humanity” (n. 49).

This pilgrimage – ongoing conversion – starts in our heart.  The greatest desire of our heart, and the goal of our ongoing conversion is our fulfillment of the greatest commandment:  to love God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength — in response to his unconditional, merciful love for us.  It is our deep desire for God that will keep us motivated to strive for conversion.  Our level of desire for God should be like that which caused the Psalmist to pray

O God, you are my God – it is you I seek.
For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts…
…For your love is better than life, my lips shall ever praise you! (Ps 63)

Ideally, every thought, word and deed of ours should be born of our love for God, and be a means of showing our love for God.  St John Chrysotom, in a homily on “Prayer,” said this:

Our soul should be directed in God, not merely when we suddenly think of prayer, but even when we are concerned with something else. If we are looking after the poor, if we are busy in some other way, or if we are doing any type of good work, we should season our actions with the desire and the remembrance of God. Through this salt of the love of God we can all become a sweet dish for the Lord.

How do we increase our desire for God so as to stay motivated in our efforts for ongoing conversion?  At Mass on 11-October, the first day of the Year of Faith, we heard Jesus tell us this:

If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”  (Luke 11:13)

We need to ask God each day to pour out his Holy Spirit upon us, the same Spirit that emboldened the Apostles at Pentecost.  The Holy Spirit will be the source of our sustained desire for God.