12 Weeks of Franciscan Peace: Week 11

December 12 – 18

The thought for this week is Conversion. Article 7 of the OFS Rule begins: “United by their vocation as ‘brothers and sisters of penance’ and motivated by the dynamic power of the gospel, let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change which the gospel calls ‘conversion.’ Human frailty makes it necessary that this conversion be carried out daily.”

Conversion means to change (something) into a different form, so that it can be used in a different way. This is an awesome definition. Conversion is not just changing from something to something else; but also that it may be used in a different way. This second part is key: to be used in a different way — to go from Gospel to life and life to Gospel.

Conversion is not a one-time event. Our Rule says, “human frailty makes it necessary that this conversion be carried out daily.” Each day, we will revert back to what we know, to what is comfortable. This is the result of human frailty. Don’t beat yourself up because you have not “arrived.” While we are human, we will fall. But the good news is that God is there to pick us up again, if we so desire.

English clergyman John Bunyan calls conversion “wounding work;” it is a constant breaking of the heart. But without the wounding, without the breaking, there can be no radical change.

“To say, “I’ve been converted and that’s that,” is to say you have decided to stop growing. If life is about anything, it is about growing. The day I quit changing and learning is the day I die.”
[Steve Goodier, Author and Minister]

“God demands a conversion of the mind and heart as the basis of peace and security.”
[cf. Is 26:3]

Psalm Fragment:
“Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me….

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
And uphold me by your generous Spirit.”
[Ps 51:10, 12]

Reflection Question:
What are the small, daily conversions in your life? How are you used in a different way because of them?

This week:
Think about where the Lord may be calling you to conversion in your daily life and wanting to use you in a different way. Journal any new awarenesses.

Prayer for the week:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust in you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. Amen.
[Thomas Merton]

[Reprinted with the permission of Carolyn D. Townes OFS, National JPIC Coordinator]