Saturday, January 25, 2014

Conversions come in small packages

Conversion of St Paul; from Santa Maria in Traspontina (Rome)
(I adjusted the image; the fresco is on a curved ceiling)
Today's Feast of the Conversion of St Paul just may be responsible in some small way for an erroneous notion that can have big ramifications in a person's spiritual life. I mean, of course, the idea that "conversion" is a great, once-and-for-all spiritual experience--to be revisited often in memory and in prayer (we certainly find that in Paul), but never to be repeated.

Whoo, boy, is that all wrong!

Damascus Road notwithstanding, if our spiritual life is at all functioning, conversion should be a daily experience. Blessed James Alberione was on solid ground when he recommended that we take three moments each day to take stock of how our relationship with God was unfolding in the particular circumstances of that day, making a kind of "course correction" if necessary.

First thing in the morning, conversion takes the form of a quick glance ahead: where am I likely to be challenged when it comes to serving God today? "Lord, what would you have me do--in the hours of this day?" In the Hour of Adoration, a more thorough 24-hour review helps us recognize the movements of grace and the welcome they received (or not... and why); thanksgiving forms an especially important dimension of this form of conversion. And at night, an overview and a prayer means that even if during the day I took a detour, I can realign my will with God's.

This ongoing conversion is punctuated (and assisted) by frequent confession--but then, it also makes frequent confession somewhat easier, too! Each celebration of the sacrament can be another Damascus Road moment in which we let ourselves be met by the Lord, and place ourselves wholeheartedly (and once more) at his service: "Lord, what would you have me do?"

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