Sunday, September 5, 2021

A Journey of Ongoing Conversion, Renewal, and Transformation

PREFACE: Over the past decade, I have drafted many reflections on this blog in a kind of "homiletic style." In fact, I have no mandate to preach; I am merely trying to carry out the common task enjoined on all Christians by their baptism to exhort and encourage one another in fraternal love. This gives me hope that some of my words might be helpful to others.

More fundamentally, what I write here represents my own exercise in reflection on the truth and remembering what I have seen and heard, what I have encountered and begun (however obscurely) to "understand" through meeting Jesus Christ and following Him in the Church.

More than anything, I am seeking encouragement, and begging the Lord for a deeper conviction regarding His loving presence in my sinful, over-complicated, weak, confused, incoherent life. Since I have studied theology and am a somewhat competent rhetorical hack, these reflections may sound like they are expressed by someone with a greater existential grasp and a more authoritative coherent practical life than anything I could possibly claim for myself.

I am a wreck. I speak to try to remember what has touched my life, and if these words have any value it is because they reflect the experience of life that fills the whole of the great tradition of Christ's Church, guided by her teaching authority and witnessed in the lives of her saints down through the ages. In the company of such witnesses, seeking the face of Jesus to whom we all belong, and throwing myself upon the mercy of God, I endeavor to speak of these things. I claim as my own only the flaws of these words. I hope and pray that the Spirit of God shines through, so that we all might learn and grow closer to the God who loves us.


The life of faith is a struggle, an ongoing task, an experience of learning to love in a true, Christian way.

It grows from a renewed encounter with Christ into a fuller and more thorough conversion away from the tendency of selfishness and toward the cultivated dispositions of sincere self-giving.

The Holy Spirit works within us to heal us (each according to our own history, circumstances, and unique personal vocation), to free us from ways of "loving" that are stunted by the ambivalence of our wounded humanity, by our selfish tendency to reduce other persons to mere "things," by our craving to amplify and impose on reality our distorted perceptions of self and others.

The Christian life is a path of conversion from an egocentric posture to an ever deepening habit of authentic charity - an attitude of mind and heart that truly loves God as He is in Himself, and that truly loves other persons for who they are in themselves, i.e. children of God and brothers and sisters redeemed by Jesus and called to share in His inheritance.

Our Christian vocation takes concrete shape in the Lord's call of love, addressed to us each day, which draws us into communion with Him in silence and prayer, in adoration, thanksgiving, and hope in His mercy. The same call of love permeates all aspects of our lives and human relationships: in our families, in work and social environments, in various responsibilities, in the joys of life, in play, in the beauty of things.

God shapes our lives in such a way as to draw us along the path of loving Him and loving others. Our sufferings, too, are permitted and find their "place" within this particular plan of healing and transforming love that our Father has for each of us as unique persons, embraced in His infinite wisdom.

In answering the call of the vocation to charity, we must have great trust in Jesus our Savior, for without Him we can do nothing. But He is with us, working in our lives and teaching us through His Spirit how to grow in genuine self-giving love.

We must not become discouraged by the apparent persistence of our imperfections, selfish tendencies, and fragility, but continue to work toward cooperating with God's grace and moving forward on the path of love that He opens in front of us.