Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Pope Francis Recipe For Holiness: Ingredient 5: Conversion

My husband experienced a conversion recently - a big one - life changing, really. His family is shocked by it. I am delighted.  I knew it would happen eventually - my son's witness was just too powerful to be resisted indefinitely.

You see, my husband was raised as a New York Yankee fan. I grew up the daughter of a die -hard Brooklyn Dodger turned New York Mets fan. Folks, the Montagues and the Capulets had an easier time than this.  Despite our extended family's passion for the game, the rivalry never really entered into our marriage.  Neither of us followed the game extensively, until our son came along.

This kid is a walking baseball statistician. He watches the game diligently and when he is not watching it live he is studying the MLB website, reviewing videos, watching old games and otherwise immersing himself in a mind-numbing (at least to me) swirl of statistics.

Baseball is his game and the NY Mets are his team. 

After a few years of watching my son's passion for the Orange and Blue, my husband slowly laid down his Yankee pinstripes and has joined the rest of us in rooting for the Mets. (even during the Subway series, which shows the depth of his conversion).  He just couldn't resist my son's enthusiasm.  My son's zeal for the game and the team, no matter how poorly or well they were playing was compelling.  Through his eyes, my husband has developed a love for the game that he unlikely would have come to on his own.

So, half a blog post in and you must be thinking - "this girl has eaten too many peanuts and cracker-jacks" - is this a post about holiness or about baseball?


Conversion is the next ingredient in our Recipe for Holiness and my husband's baseball conversion contains many of the essential principles that our conversions to Christ need to have. 

Pope Francis, in a June 18 Year of Mercy Address, defines conversion as "changing direction."

When we experience conversion of any sort (even baseball team allegiances) we have changed direction from one way of living to another.  That "change of direction" is not just an ideological shift - in order for it to be legitimate, it must be joined by tangible changes in our actions, our speech, our very lives.  When my husband converted to being a Mets fan, he didn't just "say" he was a Mets fan.  He bought a Mets hat, went to a game at CitiField, learned the team's players, etc.  Lip service would not have convinced anyone that his "conversion" was for real.

It is likewise the case when we experience a conversion to Christ. 

Often our conversion is set in motion through the witness of others.  My husband NEVER would have become a Mets fan had he not witnessed first hand my son's love of the game and the team. It was his witness that led my husband to see something he had never considered before.

The lives of the Saints, both those the Church has canonized and those "simple saints" - faithful men and women in our families, our parishes and our communities who quietly and humbly live the Gospel, provide a compelling testimony for us.  It is their witness that leads many of us to say "I want what they have".  This desire, Pope Francis tells us, is the first step towards conversion.  The Pope says: "It is He (Jesus) , with the Holy Spirit, who sows in us this restlessness to change our life and be a little better."

Our conversion to Christ also needs to find its expression in the nuts and bolts of our lives. Pope Francis says that conversion "involves the whole person, heart and mind, in order to become a new creature, a new person." We need to put on the Lord's uniform colors, so to speak.  What are they?  They are the colors of faith, hope and charity; of the virtues and the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit.  When people see us, it should be unmistakable to them that we are on Team Jesus.

Conversion is ongoing.  It is a mistake to think of a "conversion" as a once and done experience.  Noone would have accepted my husband's conversion if it lasted only one season, or one game.  Instead, true conversion must be on-going.  How does this happen?  We need to fuel our conversion with prayer, the Sacraments, Scripture and other spiritual reading, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and fellowship with other on-fire Catholics.

Today, let us pray for the conversion of that one person in our lives
who most needs to experience the love and grace of the Lord Jesus.  
Lord, we ask you to fill them with your grace and the courage to "change direction".  
Send a powerful witness to Your love and mercy into their lives,
that their zeal for You might light the fire of desire in their hearts. 
Mary, our Mother, please take our prayers to your Son Jesus. Amen.

Visit Allison at Reconciled to You for more #Recipe4Holiness!

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