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31

StormHurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in November of 2012. Predictions were dire, this would be the “storm of the century”, the “Frankenstorm.” Our Staten Island community prepared as best we could by stocking up on non-perishable food. (When I hear that word, non-perishable, I am reminded of the food that leads to eternal life!) We also stocked up on water. (Water is one of those elements most of us tend to take for granted until we are deprived of it.) We froze containers of water to keep the freezer cold in the event of a black out, which did occur. The plan was that if we needed more water we could just thaw out a frozen container. Light was another gift I underestimated. Sanctuary candles that usually burned in our chapel were placed throughout the house on tables and in the hallway. When the power went out, these became reminders of the Paschal flame lighting up the darkness.

I experienced a basic conversion when my usual way of life was disrupted by the storm. Instead of watching television I played a game of cards. Instead of turning on a light to continue working I went to bed early. In place of Facebook we spoke face-to-face. In Sandy’s aftermath many people finally met their neighbors by sharing thawed out food cooked outside on grills. The more fortunate reached out to help those who were affected by Sandy by volunteering in many ways. More than just food was shared, electric power-strips were placed outside of homes with signs that read: feel free to power your phone here!

Amid many stories of goodness there were also sad commentaries. An article in the Staten Island Advance noted that a critical ingredient during a crisis is trust. Even with all of the heartwarming and inspiring generosity, the editorial read, there were those who made the most of the opportunity to steal from homes and take money meant for those in real need. The article concluded by asking the Mayor to help restore trust, so that people would not need to fear for the security of their homes, but rather have the ability to live together for a while –trusting one another.

Aware of my own need to grow in trust as the basis for authentic and ongoing conversion, I reflected on the notion that God “has revealed in its fullness the love that saves and calls to conversion of life through the forgiveness of sins.” (6) Sometimes I find it is easier to “defend the faith” or the “truth” than to convert my life. But I know that those can be ways to avoid conversion. When I am honest with myself I won’t blame or judge others. Every day I want to fearlessly look at my motives in the light of Jesus. Jesus reminds me: “With the measure you measure, it will be measured out to you” (Mt. 7:2).

“Come to Me All of You.”
Jesus is the Teacher who first leads the way and then invites us to follow. We follow him as he reveals the face of the Father: “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:7). As our way, Jesus also guides our interior journey to the deepest part of ourselves and transforms us so that it is no longer we who live, Christ lives in us. (Gal. 2:20). Our response to God’s mercy and love is a grateful heart, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15).

Three Steps to Conversion
Conversion is a profound change, a turning of the mind and heart toward God, a turning back around to the Way of Jesus.
  1. Sanctuary LampAsk for illumination: “That I may know myself, that I may know you.” What conversion of mind, heart, and life is being asked of us? St. Paul tells us: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rm.12:2) (Verbum Domini, 87).

  2. Deepen your trust in God’s plan: Scripture challenges us and constantly calls us to conversion. Spend some time each day reading, listening and contemplating God’s word. “Contemplation aims at creating within us a truly wise and discerning vision of reality, as God sees it, and at forming within us “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). The word of God appears here as a criterion for discernment: it is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12) (Verbum Domini, 87).”

  3. Hope in God’s mercy: “I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of your grace, and life everlasting.” Here the Sacrament of Penance (or Reconciliation) makes Jesus’s call to conversion present….” We confess God’s holiness and mercy through this sacrament, and receive forgiveness through absolution. We are reconciled to God and reconcile with our brothers and sisters on the journey. It’s possible to get lost on the way or even resist the journey. The map that helps us get back on the road with Jesus is self-surrender and humility (Phil. 2: 6). When we begin walking on the path of Jesus the Way and formed by Jesus the Truth, our first directive is a contrite heart. With a heart that lives in continual conversion our hearts will reach the heart of Christ the Shepherd. We acknowledge our gifts and offer God our limitations. (Cf. Blessed James Alberione). “The loving forgiveness of God, made flesh in Jesus, raises up the sinner “Through the word of God the Christian receives light to recognize his sins and is called to conversion and to confidence in God’s mercy (VD, 61).


St. Athanasius
Hearing and seeing God, entering into a deep relationship with Jesus Truth, revelation of the Father, we will become the manifestation of the Trinity for others. “This means becoming disciples, reproducing the figure of Christ in us, letting ourselves be formed in the image of the Father to be able to become in turn ‘icons conformed to the Icon’.”


Verbum Domini
…Reading of the word of God sustains us on our journey of penance and conversion, enables us to deepen our sense of belonging to the Church, and helps us to grow in familiarity with God. As Saint Ambrose puts it, “When we take up the sacred Scriptures in faith and read them with the Church, we walk once more with God in the Garden” [301].


by Sr. Margaret Charles Kerry, FSP



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Slam!
I am always God's child

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For further reading:

Why Go to Confession?     The Word of the Lord
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