I recently completed reading the book Conversion: Spiritual Insights into an Essential Encounter with God by Father Donald Haggerty, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. As I read it, I called to mind the many conversions I have undergone in my life, large and small. But I was also challenged to see that the Lord invites me to continue to follow the path of conversion each and every day so that I can be a better instrument in His hands as I serve the people of God.
This call to continual conversion is one that the Church invites all Christians to embrace. When addressing the role of the laity in the Church, the fathers of the Second Vatican Council wrote the following words about the laity:
They conduct themselves as children of the promise, and thus strong in faith and in hope they make the most of the present, and with patience await the glory that is to come. Let them not, then, hide this hope in the depths of their hearts, but even in the program of their secular life let them express it by a continual conversion and by wrestling “against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness.”(Eph. 6:12) Lumen Gentium, 35.
Notice the mention of the wrestling against the world-rulers of this darkness, referring not so much to human opponents, but our spiritual opponent the devil and his minions. On the day of our Baptism, while the Heavens rejoiced at the gift of a new soul claimed for the Kingdom, our enemy lamented at his loss. He is a sore loser, so he will not cease to try to tempt us to take our attention away from following Christ, our King. The enemy tries to attract us by artificial lights that promise peace and fulfillment, but they only lead to darkness. In the end, the enemy is a liar, and he will do everything possible to try to convince us of the truth of his lies. Only by following Christ, who alone is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6) can we be assured of final victory, of true peace and true happiness. And because of our Baptism, we are God’s dearly beloved children, and He will never cease to fight on our behalf, so long as we give Him permission by submitting ourselves to His rule.
As the Church comes to the end of the liturgical year, this can be a good time to thank Christ, our King, for the areas of darkness in our lives that He has conquered through our acceptance of His reign. But we are all well aware that there remain areas where we still need to let Him reign. We pray that we may not resist Him when He comes and invites us to that next conversion. While it may be uncomfortable, and even downright painful, we submit ourselves with humble trust, knowing that His reign in our souls is never one that brings slavery, but always leads to freedom.