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Conversion

Conversion

 

Presence of God – O Lord, You have created me for Yourself; grant that, with all my strength, I may tend toward You, my last end.

MEDITATION

In…Ezekiel 34:11-16, we read: “For thus saith the Lord God: Behold I Myself will seek My sheep, and will visit them … and will deliver them out of all the places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day…. I will bring them to their own land, and I will feed them in the mountains of Israel…. There shall they rest on the green grass.” This is the program which the Lord wishes to accomplish in our souls during the holy season of Lent, in order to lead us by means of it to a life of higher perfection and closer intimacy with Him. He stretches out His hand to us, not only to save us from dangers but also to help us climb to those higher places where He Himself will nourish us.

The point of departure which will make the realization of this divine plan possible is a new conversion on our part: we must collect our powers, desires, and affections, which have been scattered and are lingering in the valley of the purely human; putting them all together, we must make them converge on God, our one last end. In this sense, our Lenten conversion should consist in a generous determination to put ourselves more resolutely in the way of perfection. It means a new determination to become a saint. The desire for sanctity is the mainspring of the spiritual life; the more intense and real this desire is in us, the more it will urge us to pledge ourselves totally. In this first [full] week of Lent, we must try to arouse and strengthen our resolution to become a saint. If other efforts in the past have been unsuccessful or have not entirely reached the goal, this is no reason for discouragement. Nunc coepi–“now have I begun,” or rather: “now I begin”; let us repeat it humbly, and may the experience of our past failures make us place our trust in God alone.

COLLOQUY

for post on conversion“O Lord of my soul and my only good! Why do You not wish that the soul should enjoy at once the consolation of arriving at this perfect love as soon as it has decided to love You and is doing all it can to give up everything in order to serve You better? But I am wrong: I should have made my complaint by asking why we ourselves have no desire to arrive at it, for it is we alone who are at fault in not at once enjoying so great a dignity. If we attain to the perfect possession of this true love of God, it brings all blessings with it. But so [stingy] and so slow are we in giving ourselves wholly to God that we do not prepare ourselves to receive this benefit…. So it is that this treasure is not given to us in a short time because we do not give ourselves to God entirely and forever…. O my God, grant me the grace and the courage to determine to strive after this good with all my strength. If I persevere, You, who never refuse Your help to anyone, will strengthen my courage until I come off with victory. I say courage, because the devil, with so many obstacles, tries to make us deviate from this path” (cf. St. Teresa of Jesus, Life, 11).

Grant, O Lord Jesus, by the infinite merits of Your passion, that I may be converted to You with all my heart. Do not permit me to be discouraged by the continual return of my egotistical tendencies, or by the incessant struggle which I must maintain against them. Make me clearly understand that, if I wish to be completely converted to You, I can never make peace with my weaknesses, my faults, my self-love, my pride. Make me understand that I must sacrifice everything to Your love, and even when I have sacrificed everything I must still say: “I am an unprofitable servant,” O Lord, because everything is as nothing, compared with the love which You deserve, O infinitely lovable One!

Adapted from Divine Intimacy by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.

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Note from Dan: These posts are provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contain one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.

Art for this post on conversion: Teresa of Avila, 1615, Peter Paul Rubens, photo: David Monniaux, own work, 2005, CC, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio Author Insights Edition, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, and his newest books Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep and Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Michael Brooks

    Divine Intimacy has become one of my best tools for meditation. I read both points of meditations everyday that I can. Of course, it might be best to split the two points to one in the morning and one in the evening. I encourage everyone to invest in the book, and begin a powerful Journey.

  • Camila

    “O Lord of my soul and my only good! Why do You not wish that the souls should enjoy at once the consolation of arriving at this perfect love as soon as it has decided to love You and is doing all it can to give up everything in order to serve You better?”

    I ditto this question. What can I possibly cling to that this worthier than my God yet keeps me tied down to this exile? What can possibly be more beautiful, true and good than my God alone? Yet my soul holds onto as though it could not live without.

    • judeen

      when God does His work in us and brings us back so we bring back all kinds of other souls with us…. just trust God and watch Him work in our lives!

  • Renee Costello

    Does anyone have any thoughts on the difference between loving God and wanting to serve Him and trying to serve one’s own ego by striving to be holy? I know for me from past experience that efforts toward holiness were actually efforts at self improvement disguised as wanting to be closer to God. There was a basic mind set of “I’m going to be a good person now” the whole idea of which is rooted in ego and possibly also love of God – but the ego component is definitely there. When I realized that any efforts toward holiness were actually rooted in self-love and sin it really took the wind out of my sails and I lost interest in commitment to regular prayer and striving to be holy because I could see it for what it was. I don’t mean to imply that everyone is like this. When I read articles such as today’s post they sound like they are supposed to be inspiring but the words fall flat for me because I see all the strenuous striving as truly being for oneself or being an effort to earn God’s love or earn one’s own salvation which is an exhausting and fruitless undertaking because both love and salvation are granted without any need for me to prove to God what a wonderful person I am – and God knows exactly what kind of person I am – no matter how good I try to be I’m still the same selfish person. If anyone else has felt this way or has any thoughts on this please share them.

    • LizEst

      Yes, it is easy to get caught in the trap of spiritual pride or spiritual gluttony. It’s sneaky and people don’t always see it, or want to see it for that matter. Count it as a grace from the Lord that your eyes have been opened.

      The key is to be focused on Christ, to keep one’s eyes fixed on God and not on oneself. When one focuses on Christ and following Him, doing the will of the Father, it’s surprising how little time a person spends thinking about their own self.

      I recommend you seek a spiritual director, if you don’t already have one. A spiritual director can be a great help with this…if one is willing to listen! God bless you, Renee…and a good Lent to you!

      • judeen

        the longing to be holy is from the HOly Spirit… this is a gift, and reconizing that you have self love in it.. this is also a gift from God.. He is taking you deeper spiritually.. that is why you reconize it… it is a process… and as you walk the walk … deeper so God will take you… alittle at a time… the out side is concored.. but then God takes one deep with in.. to purify things one never thinks of..
        I also wanted all my kids back to church to be safe and close to God.. the pew full of my kids and their families… but as I worked on myself.. I found this was also pride.. it was alot about me … they have their own walk with God.. at their own pace… I pray for them then I have to let it go.. loving them … and trusting God… we have to love our selves… God made us… we are the temple of God who dwells with in us… we can not self hate.. I have been there.. this is pride to , not good enough for what I want… I must except my self as a person God made… and loves… we insult God when we hat

        • Renee Costello

          Thanks for this Judeen. You seem to understand exactly what I’m saying. Your example of wanting your kids to go to church with you is precisely the kind of thing I’m talking about. So many of the things I thought that I wanted out of love of God were actually “a lot about me” as you say. You are right about the self hate also being rooted in pride, you have really given me something to consider there….we need to be accepting that we are as we are because He created us that way and we insult Him when we hate ourselves for our faults. We need Him, we can’t make ourselves truly good, we just have to follow Him in the best way that we can. Thanks again, this was a very helpful post.

          • judeen

            hi, there is a promise in the bible .. that if we make our selfs right with God and try to get closer to Him … that God will bring our children back… we just have to be pacent and trust.. and just do what is right… and our children will be touched by God and come back… this made my heart rejoice… paceincts… ? is what we need.. Gods will and timing…. trust!!
            and it will be so

      • Renee Costello

        Sneaky is a perfect description Liz, I didn’t see it for a long time and when I finally did it was quite sobering. I have gone to a spiritual director but because of time constraints stopped going – it felt like I wasn’t really focusing on his suggestions the way I should have been. I do plan to try to start again this summer. Thanks for your help and suggestions!

      • judeen

        that is if a spiritual advisor is spiritual… and wants to do Gods will and not of books… this is when you grow…. seek find and want , and God will direct you… ask the saints and angels to guide you…

    • GHM_52

      Remember that in this life, it is almost impossible to make our “ego” disappear completely. Therefore, expect to find some degree of “self-serving-ness” in everything you do. Just ask continually for the grace to see it and then ask our Majesty to root it out, leaving only the pure love of Him. Better yet, ask our Most Immaculate Mother to obtain that grace for you from our Majesty. He will not refuse His Mother and it will be a great honor to receive that grace through Her!

      • Renee Costello

        Thank you for your reply GHM_52. I think you are right about the self-serving-ness, it’s just so ingrained in everything I do and that is how I got to a place where it seemed pointless to engage in strenuous religious activities. Because even if I were to leave my house, my family, pets and all my possessions, quit my job and spend my days standing in the streets quoting scripture it would still be all about me and the mind set of “see what a good person I am now God?” I honestly can’t imagine this ever being rooted out except, as you suggest, by divine intervention. I will ask for Mary’s intercession as you recommended. I think that is a reasonable way to deal with this issue. Thank you for the advice.

        • judeen

          this insight is from God.. .keep trying ./.. in Gods grace you can accieve it …. Gods will be done .. your well on your way

      • judeen

        we are walking to the union of God… the truth is in this walk… purifing our hearts and feelings. so we trust in God more and more…. we can do this in Gods grace… many have made it…. the saints of old….. God bless

      • MarcAlcan

        Remember that in this life, it is almost impossible to make our “ego” disappear completely

        Too true. The important thing is to be aware that we are the same ego-centric person but despite that so tenderly loved by the Lord of heaven and earth.

    • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

      A short daily Prayer : Oh my God help me with your Grace to become the person You crated me to be. Grant me Your Grace to discern your Will and the strength to fulfill it. Amen

      • Camila

        I like your prayer Mary.

        • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

          Thank you, Camila. I am glad you love my short, uncomplicated Prayer

      • MarcAlcan

        Hey, that is almost the same prayer I pray. Except that I pray:
        “Grant that I may only ever follow you and that I may never do anything contrary to your will”.

    • judeen

      always remember that the truth is from the Holy Spirit… alot of saints go through this.. it is a deeper walk with God , no longer on the surface.. but deeper… the realization of what is and going deeper into the heart… this is a very good thing… a deeper holyness your called to… rejoice in God !! your heart is touched by Him! read the saints as they go through this very feeling… and dont give up…. it is just a deeper walk…

    • MarcAlcan

      Does anyone have any thoughts on the difference between loving God and wanting to serve Him and trying to serve one’s own ego by striving to be holy?

      Humiliation. When you welcome the humiliation that can come from serving and loving God, then you know that you want to serve and love God for Himself.

      I think it is important too to keep your focus on Christ. When we truly love, then the Other becomes paramount and we think less and less of ourselves. To be holy is to be “set apart for God”.

      So I think it is important to start with desire. To desire to love God alone.

      These past few days I have been singing over and over again “As the Deer” because I love these lines from the song

      “To you alone may my spirit yield.
      You alone are my heart’s desire”

  • Jeanette

    I believe that if we don’t have a desire to become a saint, then we need to pray every day to God for that desire. All holy desires come from God. After God graciously gives us this desire, it would then be helpful to determine to pray: “Jesus, make me a saint for You” after receiving Jesus in Communion or throughout the day as the Holy Spirit gives us remembrance. Be a saint!

  • Patricia

    :
    Today’s posting is about our final end- God! Each and every one of us must respond to this call of conversion: it is serious and mandatory, yet must be freely responded to, and is influenced by our state in life.
    This is in response to some of the previous comments:
    1. Thomas Aquinas writes that love is wanting the best good of the other. Parents are to love their children and want their best good.
    2. Catholic educational philosophy states that the parents are the primary educators of their children, bearing the responsibility in handing on Catholic faith and practice to their children. Nobody else can take their place.
    3. Certainly then, the love and duty of a Catholic parent is to want the best good of their children – that they would be tending towards God and accepting His sacramental graces, given through His Church.
    4. Only the Lord is the Master of the Harvest: some parents have made every effort to bring up their children in the Catholic Faith, yet may have to accept that their adult children have free will and may choose to act in a way that is not tending towards God. It is a source of pain and suffering. Unceasingly prayerful Monica is their patron saint.
    5. Being surrounded by your children and their families in church is not a matter of pride of self and what a good job one did as a parent- that is Satan whispering in your ear. Or perhaps it is the Holy Spirit graciously alerting you to a sinful attitude because the expected natural outcome of parents who took their responsibility seriously and whose children who are tending towards God in the Church is a great blessing and brings the fruit of much gratitude and peace.

  • Carole vallieres

    Amen Judeen.

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