Monday, January 25, 2010

Daily Conversion

The conversion on the way to Damascus, by Caravaggio.

"Conversion means a willingness to see the truth of things and conform one's conduct to it." ~A. Sertillanges.

Today is the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle.

The feast day and the above quote, which I read in today's Magnificat, got me thinking about my own conversion story and my daily conversion. It's not enough to say "I am a Christian," but as a follower of Christ, I am compelled to daily turn my thoughts and actions toward God.

Boy, do I mess up. Sometimes I feel as if I'm standing outside myself listening to (me) the angry mom telling kids to hurry up and get your shoes and coats on because we're late again and why is your room so messy and don't you kids know how hard I work to feed and clothe you and this is the thanks I get?

It can get pretty ugly. I like the above definition of conversion as the seeking of Truth and conforming one's conduct to that Truth. And the truth is that people are way more important than things or being late or having a messy house. And how often I forget that little truth.

But it gets better.

The Truth sometimes means we have to radically change our lives. Like St. Paul had to do when he got knocked of his horse by the blinding light (which indeed, left him temporarily blinded) and he heard a voice commanding him to change his life. Up until this point we can assume that Saul of Tarsus (which was his name before the Big Life Change) thought he was doing the Lord's work. He was going town to town arresting those rowdy Christians who were making life so difficult for ordinary Jews. Saul not only had to change his name and his occupation, but according to the story in Acts 9:1-22, he was was shown by God "...what he will have to suffer for [God's] name."

Human beings are unique among living creatures in that we rationalize and reason and we alone have the capacity and the need to seek the Truth. Some Christian's refer to that need for Truth as the "God-shaped vacuum inside each one of us." We try to fill it with things to satisfy that need, often ignorantly assuming we can satisfy that need, which was designed to be satisfied by God alone. We ache and long for acceptance, for wealth, for status, for friendship or for love, but God alone can satisfy that longing.

Last Friday night, my husband and I went to a kick-off meeting for a marriage group at our parish. I'm always a bit squeamish about those sorts of things to begin with, since I really like to stay inside my comfort zone and I'm naturally an introvert. We had to sit at a large table with three other couples whom we didn't know and talk to them about marriage...a rather intimate topic for strangers to discuss, I thought.

But over the course of the evening's discussions, I began to realize that successful marriages depend upon daily conversations and daily conversions of the spouses to one another and to God. Anyone who says "my marriage is great," but doesn't keep working at it will soon find him or herself in a rocky relationship.

The same must hold true with our relationship to God. If God is truly our Creator and our Love, then we must daily renew that relationship with Him and convert all of our being toward Him, who is the source of all Love.