In today’s first reading (Acts 22: 3-16), we hear of Saul’s dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus. Saul, a horrible persecutor of Christians was knocked off of his horse by a great flash of light and blinded for days. The Lord spoke to him, asking, “Saul, Why do you persecute me?” In an instant, Saul was forever changed. He became the epistle writer we all know and love, Paul. The same man who once killed Christians then encouraged Christ’s people to “Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14)
For most of us, conversion, or turning back to God is a life long process. We quibble back and forth between clinging to God and pushing Him away. At times we feel filled with faith and believe that God can accomplish anything through us. At other times, pride builds a wall between us and our Maker, as we egotistically try to fix things by ourselves.
I like to refer to the following passage often. (John 15:5) “I am the vine you are the branches…apart from Me you can do nothing.” When I am wits end with my children, my students or my workload, I reread this verse and remind myself that God lives within my soul – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I don’t need to go anywhere to find Him. I need do nothing but quiet myself, and be reminded of His presence. I can’t tackle the world’s problems – or even my own – but God who is within me can do anything. I lean on Him.
This same verse applies to my longing for the conversion of those I love. Do you have family members who are trying to stumble through life without faith – without the graces of the sacraments? Sometimes, we feel powerless to bring them back to the Church. We can’t, but God can! It is God’s Will that His children be happy with Him in heaven for all eternity. Think of the parables of the lost sheep, and the prodigal son.
We must demonstrate patience and perseverance in prayer for the conversion of a loved one. It’s so hard. We’re naturally impatient! St. Monica prayed for her son, Augustine, for over thirty years before he was converted…BUT he was eventually converted, AND he became a great saint! Don’t underestimate the power of prayer and sacrifice! Offer every aggravation, every chore, every headache as a prayer for the conversion of a soul.
I’m using the prayer to St. Joseph below. Won’t you join me in asking this powerful saint’s intercession for our own continued conversion, and for the conversion of those we love?
O glorious Patriarch, St. Joseph, who merited to be called “just” by the Holy Spirit, I urgently recommend to you the soul of [Name], which Jesus redeemed at the price of His Precious Blood.
You know how deplorable is the state and how unhappy the life of those who have banished our loving Savior from their hearts, and how greatly they are exposed to the danger of losing Him eternally. Permit not, I beg you, that a soul so dear to me should continue any longer in its evil ways; preserve it from the danger that threatens it; touch the heart of this prodigal child and conduct him back to the Father. Abandon him not, I implore you, till you open to him the gates of the Heavenly city, where he will praise and bless God throughout eternity for the happiness which he will owe to your powerful intercession. Amen.