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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Conversion, Reversion and Transformation

We here so many things about those who have converted to the faith, those who have reverted back to their Catholic roots.  These events are great and wonderful things.  We are called to evangelize and call to conversion all those who are searching for the truth, those that are lost in the fog we call modern culture.  However, conversion is just the first of many steps as so many I am sure are aware.  I am personally a quote “revert” meaning a cradle Catholic who has come back to the faith through a profound and transforming experience.  As Catholics, as Christians, we are called to continuing transformation both internally in mind and heart and externally in our actions.  Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Simple question is how do we do this?  By what power or effect does this transformation come about?  While some of it is the act of will of the person to want to be transformed through Christ, it truly begins with Baptism and the gift of Sanctifying Grace. 

“It is important to grasp that Sanctifying Grace is a real transformation of the soul.  The Church teaches that the very substance of the soul is renewed, the soul is affected in its very being so that it can well be called a new creation: it has a new life in it, a life with its own vital "organs" and operations, so that it can now perform actions at the level of its new being, actions which because they are supernatural can merit a supernatural reward. Thus it is that St. Paul speaks of us as "in Christ a new creature" ( 2 Cor. 5.17), "the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth."  Frank Sheed
The next question is how do we receive and keep this wonderful gift of grace.  The Sacraments are the way that we receive grace.  We must keep close to the Sacraments, for it is through the Sacraments that God works in our souls for the transformation that we all long for. 
CCC §1275 Christian initiation is accomplished by three sacraments together: Baptism, which is the beginning of new life; Confirmation, which is its strengthening; and the Eucharist which nourishes the disciple with Christ's Body and Blood for his transformation in Christ.
The world tries to distract and tells us that it is material things that matter.  Ultimately, that fallacy is shown by those who have everything and realize that suddenly they have nothing.  St. Augustine says, “Our hearts are restless until they dwell in you O’ Lord.”  So then, the question that brings us to is that after going to the Sacraments and receiving all this grace am I different.  Do I resolve to work harder to conform myself to Christ?  After going to confession and receiving the gift of our sins forgiven, do we resolve to do better?  Do we take the words of the Act of Contrition to heart? 
Act of Contrition: 
“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You, and I detest all my sins, because of Your just punishments, but most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love.  I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.”  Amen.
CCC 1695 Healing the wounds of sin, the Holy Spirit renews us interiorly through a spiritual transformation.  (Cf. Eph 4:23)  He enlightens and strengthens us to live as "children of light" through "all that is good and right and true.  (Eph 5:8, 9)
The Disciples all experience this radical transformation.  We are all called to this internal transformation.  Our life then must be one of witness of this great gift of spiritual transformation that God in his gracious mercy bestows upon us.  This transformation is the essence of the Christian life.  The question is then asked, “What is the Christian life?”  Pope Paul VI has an excellent answer for us:
Now the Christian life may be defined as a continual search for perfection.  This definition is not complete, because it is purely subjective, and omits many other aspects of the Christian life.  It is exact, however, in the sense that the kingdom of God, the economy of salvation, the relationship established by Christianity between our littleness and the greatness of God, His ineffable transcendence, His infinite goodness demands a transformation, a purification, a moral and spiritual elevation of man called to so great a destiny.  It requires the search for, and the effort toward a personal state of feeling, thought and mentality, a way of conduct, and a wealth of grace and gifts that we call perfection.”
Will you be transformed?  Will you let God work in your life to transform you? 
Be transformed in Christ for it is through this that we come closer to the divine, which in itself is the summation of Unity, Truth, Beauty and Goodness.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand.  Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.”  Philippians 4:4-9

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