by Sr. Joan Jurski, OSF
I was thinking about the word “conversion” after reading a short article about it. Conversion, what does it mean for me? Often, I read about people who have an immediate conversion in accepting Jesus. But is it always an immediate change in our lives? For some, “conversion” is instantaneous. For most of us, I think, it is a daily experience. I know it is something I need daily. This brings me to St. Francis of Assisi.
October 4th is the day we celebrate the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. He is known throughout the world. The story of Francis and the Wolf is well known and told many times over. He is a model today for protecting the earth and enjoying the beauty of nature. He accepted all creation with love and respect. This loving way of being for Francis, though, didn’t come overnight. It was a gradual turning to the Lord. It was an ongoing conversion. He experienced many small conversions that led to a life changed.
Francis was leader of youth in Assisi, who liked to party. He strove to be a Knight. He fought in the battles between Assisi and Perugia. He was an ordinary person like the rest of us. He didn’t start off as a saint. He changed gradually and eventually burst into the man of God we know him to be. I think Francis provides an example for all of us. It was in the throes of his daily life he grew close to God. It is in our daily lives we are offered opportunities to grow into the persons God has calls us to be.
Each of us is offered graced moments of conversion on a daily basis. Do I recognize these moments? How is my relationship with others going, does my spiritual life need a boost? What do I do for fun, for enjoyment? Does it root me in goodness and decency? Do I need to make any changes in my attitude toward my work, the way I take care of my health, the way I respect nature? These are the opportunities for daily conversion. It’s up us to recognize them and grab them.
St. Francis showed us a way of life. He worked daily to be one with God. Let’s celebrate Francis this October and do the same. We may not become another St. Francis, but, we know God loves us always. One day we will join Francis and others in the heavenly court. So let’s remember we can make a difference in ourselves and the world. Loving God, open my eyes that I might recognize my daily call to conversion.
Happy St. Francis Day! Come to the campus of the Sisters of St. Francis to see several images of Francis. Take a walk with him breathing in the beauty of the trees, flowers, birds and sometimes the deer.
+ In his book “Pilgrimage” James Martin, S.J. writes; “Conversion happens most often in a slow deliberate way, like a tree changing colors in the fall. And often you can’t see the changes in yourself.”
+ “The Lord your God is gracious and compassionate He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” 2 Chronicles 30:9b – Scripture
+ “All Christians need an ecological conversion wherby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ becomes evident in their relationship with the earth.” Pope Francis
+ “Every story of conversion is the story of a blessed defeat.” C.S. Lewis
+ “Living a spiritual life requires a change of heart, a conversion. Such a conversion may be marked by a sudden change, or it can take place through a long process of transformation. But it is always invoking an inner experience of oneness.” Henri Nouwen