11 August 2009

Converts: A Special Sign of God's Mercy

10th Sunday after Pentecost
Epistle: 1 Cor. 12:2-11
Gospel: Luke 18:9-14

This past Sunday, the 10th After Pentecost, Holy Mother Church* reminds us (*in the ancient liturgical rite based on the cycle of the Breviary) of the need for humility, in the fullness of the meaning of the word. As humility is seeing ourselves in light of Who God Is, then we see that we are nothing without His grace, and everything comes from Him to work for good. In the Gospel reading, we are reminded of the Pharisee and the Public, and how "Jesus spoke this parable to some who trusted inthemselves as just, and despised others."

Just as the Epistle of this day explains that we all who are in His grace, manifest the Holy Spirit by different works and paths.

This post are some thoughts on a particular path; that of the convert in the Roman Catholic church.

As you know, there are different types of graces, and among them, some of them are signal graces. Signal graces are graces that can be perceived by others. Whenever God permits a conversion, He bestows upon them number of signal graces. These signs usually stand out more in converts than in those that are already in His grace, or at least, have the habits that appear as grace cultivated by their environment and upbringing. When you see a rose grow in a garden of flowers, it is not as outstanding as when you see a rose grow where never any flowers thrived before. That is not a good example, though, because when we picture a rose in a plain environment, we think that the rose it somewhat out of place, and would prefer to see a rose in a garden. However, our Lord tells us that he came to live, suffer and die for the sinner, not for those that were already redeemed. Now, that is not to say that the person who was raised Catholic is necessarily living (and growing) in His grace, but from what I've learned and heard over and over again from those who have grown up Catholic, they often forget their "first charity" and fall into lukewarmness. They are tempted to think that that they are different because of their beliefs, when fundamentally, it was God's grace that they came to see and believe in them, and that everything in this life is given to us for to lead us to the Truth.

What I am really meaning to say is simply that God has given converts to the faith a special mission. This mission might be played out in many different ways, according to the path that God has chosen for each soul, but everyone is to be a sign of His Love who remains in His grace. The convert has a special role in the way that they are a reminder to all of one of the basic truths of the one, holy, Apostolic, true religion: that supernatural grace of God changes who we are to make us more into as he is.

Many times I've seen good Catholics fall in tiny steps into heresy. Frequently these are subtle but pervasive gnostic ideals, that they came to the Truth by knowledge, or Jansenism --- that they were preferred by Christ and were made more virtuous by their lineage. Each person is like a different type of flower, needing a different type of treatment for it to thrive. That is why we benefit from one another; because we are conduits of God's grace in different ways, as God intends to use us to help cultivate one another. Sometimes Catholics forget this. And I do not mean that some types, as I've described, necessarily have a higher purpose by this type, but their are lesser or greater signs according to His Will and the compliance of that soul.

St. John writes to the church at Ephesus in the Book of Revelation (*Book of the Apocalypse), "I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them that are evil, and thou hast tried them, who say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And thou hast patience, and hast endured for my name, and hast not fainted. But I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first charity. Be mindful therefore from whence thou art fallen: and do penance, and do the first works." (Rev.2:4-5). All these things that he afore mentioned are apparently not the "first works" of charity! Therefore, it must be that we must follow the laws of charity as they pertain to God and neighbor, not just live in a bubble for the sake of our own salvation. Even if one is to go into the cloister, they must be engaged heavily in the ministry of spiritual works for their neighbor, both within the walls of the convent and out in the world via frequent, intimate prayer. The Holy Spirit, through St. John, ties penance to the first works because it helps us to remember in our first thoughts who we are in respect to Who God Is (a short definition of humility). It is easier to remain humble when your sins are always before you, and remorse for our own past sins is an anecdote for pride.
Post Communion: We beseech Thee, O Lord, our God, that in They goodness Thou wilt not deprive of Thine aid those whom Thou dost not cease to renew with Thy divine Sacraments. Through our Lord.+

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