Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bishop Edward Slattery on Conversion

Who can forget the unforgettable homily of Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC.  Bishop Slattery stepped in at the 11th hour to take the place of Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos at a Pontifical High Mass which was three years in the planning. 

I have heard from people in the Tulsa area that Bishop Slattery's homily was pretty much on par with what they hear in that diocese on a regular basis.  Hence, I thought it might be worthwhile to mine the Diocese of Tulsa website now and then and see what His Excellency has to say. 

This is an excerpt from the May 2010 issue of the Eastern Oaklahoma Catholic (PDF):

When we realize that conversion, what the New Testament calls metanoia (that is a change of heart) then we begin to see that we are always being converted to the person of Jesus.

But this takes our whole life. That’s why we say ultimately that our conversion to Christ is a dynamic, lifelong process of allowing the Holy Spirit to form us into the image of Jesus.

Seen from this perspective, the “converts” who entered the Church at Easter are still on their road of conversion. What began in their Inquiry Classes or the Pre-Catechumenate stage of the RCIA, or perhaps even in those activities, events and situations which formed them as disciples of Christ from their earliest days, does not end with their reception of the sacraments. Rather, it enters into a new and more fruitful stage. How strange this sounds to those of us who so often think of conversion in terms of endpoints!

But, at the same time, what an enormous and wonderful challenge it places before us, since this understanding of conversion as a lifelong process demands of us a continuing struggle to identify ourselves with the personal style of Jesus Christ, Whose humility will lead us to simplicity, to poverty, to responsibility for others, and, above all, to a self-surrender worked out in love and expressed in the very real circumstances of our daily lives. If what we believe does not flow into how we live our lives, then we are Christians by name only, Catholics by claim only. And this cannot be.

Real conversion requires us to live a life in which there can be no differentiation between what we believe and what we do; no gap between the world of faith and the daily world of commerce or business, academics or medicine. We bear witness to the Lord, Whose disciples we are (and Whose disciples we still seek to become), not on Sunday alone, when we attend Church and receive the Eucharist, but on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday night at soccer practice and Thursday when we take the kids to gymnastics and Friday when we treat the family to a movie.

And, as a further consideration, let me say, too, that a husband must live out this conversion to Christ by becoming more converted every day to his wife.

He must always seek to revise his actions toward her and the family in the light of Christ’s call to “love one another as I have loved you.” Of course, the wife, too, must be converted every day to her husband, so that aided bythe Spirit of Jesus and with a heart made true by frequent recourse to the Sacraments of Confession and Communion, she can truly become the living tabernacle of the domestic Church, which worships God in her home, the resting place of deep peace where her children can find the presence of Christ, and, in that presence, hear Him calling their names.

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!