As a Catholic convert and the privilege of my ministry listening to the Lord’s powerful calling of people to serve His Church as priests, religious and dedicated Disciples; todays feast of the Conversion of St. Paul is another occasion for deep and profound reflection.
We like to hear the powerful and dramatic conversion stories, like that of St. Paul, St. Augustine or Thomas Merton among so many others. In fact, the accounting of my own vocation story has dramatic moments or elements to it; but I have come to appreciate that rarely is a conversion as dramatic as we make it out to be.
It would be a mistake, my friends to fixate on the moment of Saul’s conversion as the most important part of the story. It isn’t. There are many who have stories similar to his whom we don’t remember and aren’t talking about. Why? The “drama” didn’t bring that person to the life long conversion which we celebrate in the person of St. Paul as he left his life as Saul of Tarsaus behind.
I have a good friend of mine, a priest of more than 40 years who came to talk to our Associates a couple of years ago who offered an important piece of wisdom from his lifelong commitment to his priesthood and priestly life. He told these young men about the ups and downs of his life in an honest way, of joys and struggles. He spoke of the day of his ordination and the importance of the ‘yes’ he made before the bishop on that day but stressed the importance of the ‘yes’ every single day of his life. He made a profound point for myself, the other young priests there and many of the young men discerning. I can attest to the joy and appreciation many have for this priest’s vocation and his life. But the moment it began isn’t as important as the daily commitment. It’s the same as for St. Paul. His daily commitment is why we celebrate his conversion. Remembrance of an event, but the less obvious event of his life.
Will others celebrate the “event of our lives”. We all have a conversion, reversion or deeper conversion moment; we may even be having one right now. The focus should not be what other people do in the celebration of our life, but as people of faith the recognition that Our Lord celebrates with us. The Communion of Saints celebrate with us. Will they be celebrating the moment – this moment – when we lived every day for the Lord and for others?