Has anyone ever asked you if you’ve “been saved”? Some Christians ask this question to see if you have “accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.” In our Catholic mindset, all people are offered salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus. The key to the different ways of looking at this question is in whether you’ve accepted the salvation offered and given your life over to Christ. This involves what we call “conversion.”
Like many of you, I’m a “cradle Catholic.” So, unlike St. Paul, whose conversion we remember today, my turning to Christ has been much less dramatic—no horses, no blinding lights, no voice of God, no thwarted plans to round up followers of the Way for persecution.
Like St. Paul, St. Francis of Assisi’s conversion also holds some pretty dramatic twists and turns. From the carefree lifestyle of a wealthy young man, Francis responds to God’s call to Gospel simplicity and dependence. He drew others to him, other men and women whose hearts resonated with the life he was leading, the way he was responding to God’s call.
For neither of these men was conversion a simple choice with smooth, paved roads ahead. Paul wasn’t initially trusted by the early Christians who knew of his notorious reputation. Paul’s mission of sharing the Good News with the Gentiles developed in part because of this distrust. We learn from his letters to Christian communities throughout the known world of the time that he was instrumental in expanding and shaping the early Church through his response to God’s call.
Francis’ conversion led many to think he’d gone mad. He suffered at the hands of his father, who eventually broke off all ties with him. He was mocked and scorned. Some of his former friends tried to “talk sense into him” instead of listening to his motivation for his new way of life. Yet Francis continued to share God’s love with all he met, especially the outcast, the sick and the poor. And he did this with such joy and inner peace that many others came to follow his path to God.
My own conversion involves remaining mindful of Christ’s presence with me on my daily walk, and turning back to him over and over again when I—in big ways or small—turn away from him and think I can do it on my own. It involves saying “yes” to Christ with each new day, with each new challenge.
Is there a story of conversion that inspires you?
What does it mean to you to be converted? Is this a one-time event or an ongoing journey?
A romanticized version of St. Francis of Assisi’s conversion story, “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” is featured in the “Movie Moments” column of the February 2011 Every Day Catholic, “Lent—Have You Given Up on Giving Up?” See the leader’s guide for ways to use Every Day Catholic in a group setting. It suggests two clips from the movie and includes reflection/discussion questions for those who wish to view the entire film.
feature photo: graur codrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net