Since conversion is one of the main topics of this site, I thought I’d spend some time reflecting on what that that process or journey really means. As Scott Hahn says, conversion cannot be reduced to merely changing religions or denominations, but refers, rather, to change of heart. (I believe it was in his series on the Gospel According to Saint Paul. The link takes you to the audio files and some PDF’s at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology.) Jesus begins His public ministry echoing the words of John the Baptist:
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 4:17)
To repent is to turn around, to turn back. As it is written,
11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 33:11)
Conversion, even when considered as becoming Catholic, is not merely becoming Catholic, going through a ceremony and attending Mass every Sunday. Conversion is becoming Catholic, becoming more and more deeply and authentically Christian, more and more faithful to Christ, His teachings and His church; becoming more and more united to Him through living as a Catholic, through hearing, praying and meditating on the word of God in the Scripture; and receiving the Word of God, who is Christ Jesus, and receiving Him worthily in Holy Communion as Saint Paul exhorts us to do in his epistles; receiving the Word made flesh who dwelt among us and dwells among us still in every tabernacle in every Catholic church throughout the world.
Conversion is to turn to Christ and allow Him who is the Light of the world to enlighten and inflame our hearts. Conversion is to allow Christ to pour His grace into our hearts and transform our minds and our lives and our very being into Him. Conversion is to become more and more fully true branches on the True Vine.
Conversion is to turn to Christ every moment of every day for the rest of our lives. To keep our eyes fixed upon Christ and Him crucified. To learn from Him and to follow Him, refusing nothing to Him who did not refuse death for us, even death upon a cross.
I was received into the Church many years ago. But I am still becoming Catholic. And I will still be becoming Catholic until the day I leave this valley of tears behind and, by the grace of God, enter into my Master’s house. How I long to hear those words with which Fr. Corapi so often ends his talks:
Well done, my good and faithful servant…Come, enter into your master’s joy. (Matthew 25:21)