Conversion and discernment are not once-off events. We have major moments of understanding and conversion and commitment to a life direction and lifestyle – but these have to be renewed on a constant basis. Each day we need to renew our commitment. Each day we need to allow the Savior to look at us and to renew us in our journey. Admittedly it gets easier as one practices and grows in habits (and in age), but we can never let down our guard.

For the first years after his conversion, Eugene struggled to maintain its effects. The following prayer is found in his notebook of that period:

For a perfect conversion.
How still imperfect, my God, is my conversion; the root of sin lives on in me; the thoughts and memory of the world are still powerfully at work; the things I have renounced retain their hold on my imagination, and reawaken threatening images.
My heart, still weak, is quite disturbed by it, and in the midst of this disturbance it feels all its passions coming back to life; it takes but little for it to be ensnared.
Is this what it is to belong perfectly to God? My inconstancy in the little good I do, my God, is no less humiliating for me;
full of good desires, I am often satisfied with their formulation, almost all my zeal is used up in the making of plans;
I fluctuate between yielding to grace and to my own desires, while time flows by, I journey swiftly towards eternity, and I am always the same.
Shall I all my life be the plaything of the enemy of my salvation? Make firm, my God, my inconstancy, wholly change my heart; inspire within me, for my salvation, the same zeal I showed for losing myself. Sicut enim exhibuistis membra vestra servire … iniquitati … ita nunc exhibete … servire justitiae (Rm 6, 19) [ed. For just as you presented the parts of your bodies as slaves… to lawlessness … so now present them… to serve righteousness.]

Prayer for a perfect conversion, EO XIV n 24


“The church is not a theological classroom. It is a conversion, confession, repentance, reconciliation, forgiveness and sanctification center, where flawed people place their faith in Christ, gather to know and love him better, and learn to love others as he designed.”    Paul David Tripp

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    What a joy this is today. Like a little girl I want to run and dance and jump with the joy of life and call out yes. Yes! Because right at this time I am able to recognize and connect with what Frank is saying. Secretly I have worried that maybe my baptism didn’t ‘take’ because of how imperfect is my life, am I. My conversion experience and hearing Jesus say my name – what was so wrong with me that I could conveniently at times forget Him, could turn from his embrace, look the other way?

    I needed and still do to be reminded daily. I have needed to know that I am no different from others in this and to be able to talk about it – out loud. That will not lessen my weakness but to know I am not alone – that is such an immense gift. Indeed, one of the greatest gifts that I receive in coming here is to find that I am not alone, that others have seemingly gone through what I have experienced. The times and circumstances are different, the words used to express feelings might differ and but the sense – they all seem to connect in a deep place within my heart. Yes my heart whispers, yes. I know this to be true.

    God has given me so much, so very much. And it is why I come here to this place with the others who also come here, our spirits meeting and praying together. Here I experience through the Spirit that which others know and this becomes a starting point from which my reflection grows. This, like the prayer that Eugene said, admitting how little and human I am, Although we do give our all to Him we must do it over and over again. And even in that there is joy. For God always says yes, always picks us up and wraps us in tenderness.

    “Each day we need to allow the Savior to look at us and to renew us in our journey.” What a powerful statement. Through the eyes of our Crucified Savior. The word ‘oraison’ keeps coming to mind – this meeting each other in prayer. Perhaps I have the meaning of it wrong, but to me it seems to be a coming together of beings, of souls, of who we are in prayer, in God. A connecting. “We will meet together in prayer” Bishop Peter would tell say and write to me. This is one of the ways we allow the Saviour to look at us and renew us in our journey. Not alone but together.

    “Is this what it is to belong perfectly to God?”

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