Conversion is a lifetime need PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 10 February 2016 14:25



With the season of Lent, we once again are reminded of the need for conversion. Let’s hope that we go through this process in a most sincere and thorough way so much so that we would emerge from this season as a new creation once again, as God wants us to be.

We can never over-emphasize this need for our conversion and renewal. In spite of our best intentions and efforts, we somehow would find ourselves in some irregular, imperfect if not completely sinful situation.

If Adam and Eve, our first parents, still in their state of original justice, managed to fall into sin, how much more us who have been born already handicapped and wounded with original sin and exposed to all sorts of temptations and sin in our earthly life.

The Book of Proverbs tells us that “the just man falls seven times, and rises again.” (24,16) And our spiritual warfares areno trivialities, since “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph 6,12)

That we are all sinners and in need of conversion should come as no surprise to us. We just have to be realistic in handling this lifetime predicament of ours, making use of all the means that, thanks to God, have also been made available in abundance.

There’s confession, for one, and the Holy Eucharist, spiritual direction, regular examinations of conscience, indulgences, etc.

There’s just one interesting thing that, I believe, is worth bringing up at this point in time. And that is that conversion should not just be a matter of a moment, but should rather be a stable state of mind and heart.

St. John Paul II’s encyclical, “Dives in misericordia” (Rich in mercy), has some relevant words about this point. “Authentic knowledge of the God of mercy, the God of tender love,” the saintly Pope said, “is a constant and inexhaustible source of conversion, not only as a momentary interior act but also as a permanent attitude, as a state of mind.”

He continues: “Those who come to know God in this way, who ‘see’ Him in this way, can live only in a state of being continually converted to Him. They live, therefore in ‘status conversionis;’ and it is this state of conversion which marks out the most profoundelement of the pilgrimage of every man and woman on earth in ‘status viatoris.’” (13)

It would be good to go slowly on these words if only to feel at home with this wonderful truth of divine mercy as well as our lifetime need for it. Let’s hope and pray that we can manage to conform our attitudes and core beliefs along these lines expressed by St. John Paul.

These words are no invitation for us to be lax in conscience, since anyway divine mercy is readily available. On the contrary, they invite us to be as sensitive and delicate as possiblein our conscience, but without falling into the extreme of scrupulosity and unhealthy obsessions.

Let’s remember that every virtue is between two extremes, not in manner of a middle ground or a compromise, but as the maximum between the vices of excess and defect. Our attitude toward continuing conversion should not be a consequence of either a lax conscience or a scrupulous one.

The relation between God and us should always be marked by joy, peace, mutual trust, even if many times we fall into sin. It is a relation of an all-good father and a bumbling child where intimacy, transparency, compassion, understanding would reign supreme. There is correction and some penalty, of course, but all given in the context of love and compassion.

Considering the way we are, afflicted as we are with all sorts of vulnerabilities but may still profess great belief and love for God and others, we need to go through frequent conversions even every day.

Opus Dei founder, St. Josemaria Escriva, once said: “Each day is not just one conversion. It is many conversions. Each time that you rectify and, seeing something that is not going right (even though it may not be a sin), you try to divinize your life more, you have made a conversion.”

The possibility of daily frequent conversions is high because of the fickleness of resolutions, and the objective reality that in spite of our best intentions and efforts, we still come out with ideas, words, deeds that are spiced with all sorts of imperfections.

We should be humble enough to acknowledge these, even if we also acknowledge the good things we have done.