Transformation through Conversion
So, to put first things first, what are the goals of conversion?
The first goal is to constantly progress in sanctity. In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul tells us, “to put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.”1
Changing our attitudes and behaviors, and purifying our souls, is seldom easy. Our thoughts and actions are so influenced by others and society, that seeking sanctity must be a goal constantly refreshed in our minds. Additionally, growth in sanctity generates a chain reaction. A change in one area of our lives invariably exposes a reform needed in another area. And changing core attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors, even when self-directed, can at times be disconcerting or even seem hopeless.
However, this is the nature of the conversion process, but is does not need to leave us in a state of limbo where we may feel that we no longer know ourselves. Even St. Paul says, “What I do, I do not understand … I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” 2 What is happening in the conversion process, even to St. Paul, is that we are losing portions of the person we are, the person we don't want to be, the person with inordinate attachments, misconceptions, and focused on ourselves, and becoming the new man or woman we were intended to be, the person God created us to be.
And that entails seeing, and committing to, a new vision. It means finding the true purpose for our lives. In our conversion, things that once seemed critically important may suddenly become trivial. And things that were easily dismissed may become primary. Fortunately, there is a great joy in the process, and a happiness we would have never imagined or experienced had we continued on our former course.
Another goal of continual conversion comes in our roles as disciples. The sanctity we seek is not ours alone. Whatever level of sanctity we attain is meant to foster a greater sanctity in our neighbor. We are not here to live in isolation while the world about us crumbles, sinfulness is rampant, and souls are eternally lost. Jesus tells us, “You are the light of the world … Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Heavenly Father.”3
St. Francis of Assisi is often quoted as saying, “Preach always and if necessary use words.” Preaching by example is definitely a necessity. Our words and our lives, must be authentic. However, society today is so self-absorbed, and so entrenched in sin, that our goodness and holiness will, generally, not be noticed or understood. The time for words, and seeking out the lost, has come.
St. Paul said, “Woe to me if I do not preach [the gospel]”...”All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I [and others] may have a share in it. 4 Jesus tells us, “[To] make disciples of all nations,,,, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always.”5 To fulfill this mission, the mission Christ has given us, we must continually be formed, and renewed in Christ. Jesus' commandment, to preach to the nations, was not meant for the Apostles alone, but to every disciple of Christ, to every Child of God.