Easter Conversion

I was nineteen when I came into the Catholic Church.  Over the years since that day, I’ve converted thousands of times.  Oh yes, it wasn’t a one-time event for me.  I didn’t experience a lightning strike of pure, holy, and enduring faith that immediately and forevermore transformed me into a perfect follower of Jesus Christ.  No “road to Damascus” moment for me.  I was baptized and confirmed on a Saturday afternoon and received my first Holy Communion at Mass the next morning.  And on Monday, I went right back to my sinning ways.  It wasn’t the Church’s fault by any means.  Good spiritual Mother that she is, I had everything I needed for holiness in the Sacraments and in the support of parish life.  It wasn’t the fault of my family or friends either:  they had supported and affirmed my becoming Catholic.  No, my sins were – and are – no one’s fault but my own.
 
The word “convert” comes from the Latin and means “to turn around.”  When I converted to my Catholic faith, I turned around from the sinful road I’d been travelling and gave myself to Jesus.  I turned away from sin to embrace the mercy and love of Jesus Christ.  I turned away from sin and turned to the Gospel.  I turned away from self and turned to Jesus.  As a child I had seen people in my protestant church as they went forward at the end of the service to “get saved.”  Sometimes they knelt down and prayed with the pastor.  Sometimes they cried.  Afterwards, people would gather around them and shake their hands, congratulating them on the moment of their faith.  It didn’t make sense to me, even at that age, that Jesus did the “saving” but folks offered their congratulations to the sinner.  And there was a finality to the “altar call” moment.  Once saved, always saved, they taught.  Hmmm.  I came to Christ in His presence in the Holy Eucharist.  He called to me in the sacrifice of the Mass.  He spoke to me in the writings and testimonies of the early Church fathers and in the Gospels of the New Testament.  I saw Him revealed in the lives of the Saints and in the good and holy priests who taught me at university.  God’s mercy pursued me until I was baptized and confirmed.  I converted.  I turned to Christ and every day, I convert anew.
 
He calls to me in my sin and I turn to Him once more.  He speaks to my sinful heart and once again, I announce my guilt and beg for His mercy and forgiveness.  I make my confession and I convert again and again.  I sin and am ashamed and He comes to me in my self-loathing and begs me to look at His face, there on the Cross.  His outstretched arms hold me to His Sacred Heart and He whispers His love and forgiveness.  I convert again.  My salvation is a journey and not just a past event.  Jesus has saved me.  Jesus is saving me.  Jesus will save me.  I hear Him and I convert.  My sin drowns His voice and deadens my heart.  He never stops calling to me.  In my sin, He loves me.  In my sin, He died for me.  In the dark abyss of my foul sin, His hand leads me to Golgotha and once more, I convert.
 
In this Easter week, may we be aware of His presence in our lives.  Pray that Christ will give you the faith to know you are completely dependent upon Him. Ask Him to reveal His great love for you in His sacrifice of the Cross.  Turn away from your sins and beg His forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession.  Be a convert in your own way and return again to Him.  Stay with Him on Thursday as He shares the first Eucharist with the Apostles.  Pray with Him in the garden as He struggles and fears what is to come, submitting perfectly to His Father’s will.  Walk with Him in chains to His trials and scourging.  Share His sadness as St. Peter denies knowing Him.  On Friday, stand with St. John and His Blessed Mother at the foot of the cross, and know the depth of His love revealed.  This week we convert again from our sins and glory in the greatest love the world has ever known.  Love, lifted up on a cross that has saved you, is saving you and will save you.  Alleluia!
 
“…like the ooze of virgin oil crushed in the press of God’s hands, an anointing, a yielding, a yes.”  

    – Gerard Manley Hopkins, English poet and Catholic convert (1844-1889)

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