As Catholics enter fully into Lent, we embrace the practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving (See In Focus, Pages 11-14). One other key element to these 40 days in the wilderness is the call to conversion toward Christ.
Pope Benedict XVI reminded the faithful of this aspect of the penitential season during a February 2007 general audience at the beginning of Lent, which he called “the favorable spiritual season for training ourselves to seek God with greater tenacity, opening our heart to Christ.”
“What does ‘to be converted’ actually mean? It means seeking God, moving with God, docilely following the teachings of his Son, Jesus Christ; to be converted is not a work for self-fulfillment because the human being is not the architect of his own eternal destiny. We did not make ourselves,” the pontiff said. “Therefore, self-fulfillment is a contradiction and is also too little for us. We have a loftier destination. We might say that conversion consists precisely in not considering ourselves as our own ‘creators’ and thereby discovering the truth, for we are not the authors of ourselves.
“Conversion consists in freely and lovingly accepting to depend in all things on God, our true Creator, to depend on love. This is not dependence but freedom.”
The call to conversion may be a lifelong process for all faithful, but for a group of soon-to-be Catholics, the concept of conversion takes on a special meaning during Lent.
On this first Sunday of the liturgical season, many dioceses throughout the country are celebrating the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion. Catechumens and candidates will gather at their diocese’s cathedrals, along with godparents and sponsors, to begin the final phase of entering into full communion with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil on March 30.
After months of learning about the Faith through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, the catechumens will enter their names into a book to mark their intention to enter the Faith at the Easter Vigil, and will become “the elect.”
Each of the catechumens, those who have never been baptized, and the candidates, who were baptized in a different Christian tradition, has a story to tell about what drew him or her to the Catholic Church. Often, those stories can inspire all Catholics to have a deeper appreciation of the Faith.
Therefore, in keeping with what has become a tradition over the past several years, Our Sunday Visitor is seeking conversion (or reversion) stories from readers to be published in our Easter issue on March 31.
Submissions should be no more than 250 words, and they must include the reader’s name, city, state and date of entry (or re-entry) into the Church.
Readers can submit stories by mail to Our Sunday Visitor Conversion Stories, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750 or by email to email@example.com (please type “Conversion Stories” in the subject line).
It would be preferable if readers could also include a photograph of themselves. The deadline is March 4, but early entries are welcome.
Questions or concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.