Living the Stages of Conversion


#1

Hello Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

Well, it has taken a little bit of courage to post my question in this big forum. But, precisely, I do so in the hopes that someone out there can advise or recommend some books that may be useful to me.

In brief, I experienced a conversion ( I think that would be the proper way to express it) about three years ago. I am a craddled Catholic, but, I was stupid and still am and I was very ignorant about my faith and still am. Up until then, I was practicing my Catholic Faith my way with the little catechism I received in my childhood. I went to Mass often but not with the obligation and recognition that not going without good reason is a mortal sin. I confessed every ten or so years and this kind of Catholic. I did say my prayers in the morning and at night.

Although as the years went by I was coming more, more away from the periphery of the Church as I began to listen to myself more and less to society and associates and friends, I still made stupid decisions and was very ignorant about the teachings of the Church. My conversion did not happen gradually, however, three years ago I was kicked off my horse, much like Paul.

Ever since, I have devoted myself to learning about the teachings of the Church, attending Mass every Sunday, confessing regularly etc... I have learned a great deal and recognize that there is an abundance more to learn. I can see that I could easily devoted my whole life to learning for there is so much. I can also look back and see that I have with the Grace of God done some spiritual maturing.

I am sure many Catholics can relate to this conversion experience and wish to further add that in these past three year I have without knowing nor that it had a name - done a lot of purgation. By this I mean that in light of my confirmaiton of Faith that came with my conversion I had to reevaluate everything that I thought I knew and how I saw the world. I did a lot of shafting and got rid of a lot of things, beliefs and understandings that were contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church. It has been a process.

However, I am at a point right now as a result of my purgation, that the things that motivated me career wise are no longer there. Money, power, fame, social status, etc... are no longer motivators. Now, I understand that we are living in God's time and we can not speed up spiritual growth and that actually the journey is a life long journey, but, I just wonder since we can always work to advance and make progress, how some of the members here dealt with this stage.

To be more specific, I am planning to begin a new career which will be beneficial money wise and then there is a project of evangelization and helping the poor that is in the back burner. I have dependents and a duty and obligation to provide for them, so I need to get in the business world and make money to provide for them. I understand that we are called where we are at but, I am trying to get a clear view or perspective of this stage. Hopefully in doing so I commence my endeveor with confidence, motivation and passion.

I know that I am really putting myself out there with this post, but, I am hoping that it will be worth it and I can receive some suggestions and advice or maybe some recommended reading. I have actually researched the net and found the following but it does not go deep enough to address my situation: charlottediocese.org/customers/101092709242178/filemanager/frankv/StPaulConversion.pdf

I am sure my experience is a common one since many people experience conversion or convert to the Catholic Church. Once we get rid off 'most' of the things of the world and have put on Christ how do you go on? Saint Paul for instance knew exactly what he was called to do and was prepared, but, I do not have a profession. I am not a doctor nor a professional. It is not obvious to me how I can serve. Well, I'll stop here and wait to see what kinds of replies I get.

I thank you in advance for your time.


#2

Even St. Paul took 3 years before he started his ministry. This, my priest often reminds me. As for myself, I completely withdrawed from the world, it was such a radical change and change in perspective. I am still somewhat in this state and I'm also interested in the response's to this thread. Thanks for starting it and good luck, or should I say, God Bless.


#3

Hi, I'm sorry I can't really think of any specific books, but I had some thoughts while reading your post...

I went through a conversion too and many of my goals in life have changed as a result. I also used to be driven by a desire for success, etc. Now it's more like I want to serve God with my life. The difficulty that I came across was feeling unmotivated to do anything except prayer, learning about my faith, and ministry (helping the Church, the poor, etc.) I wondered what is the point of me being at university, and then focusing on career, etc. I still don't know if I'm called to life 'in the world' or religious life. But through reading St Therese's book "Story of a Soul", I came to one conclusion.... anything can be done for God and for His Kingdom. Whatever duties you have now, do them for love of God and offer them to Him. If they're difficult, offer them in reparation for sin in the world. Ask Him to use every little thing to help build His Kingdom. Even if in the process you have to focus on making career choices, etc. If you have people who are dependent on you, it is your responsibility to take care of them, and God does accept this as service done for Him if you offer it as such. Do what you have to do in your state of life, spend time in prayer, and try to honour Him in everything.

and by the way, its God's will for us to "die to the world"... it's just that not all of us are called to contemplative religious life. If you're not, then remember there are people who in the world who need God and we can help bring Him Kingdom by living out our faith where we are. God can make anyone a saint in their own circumstances. Just be open to His will.

God bless


#4

[quote="TOP, post:2, topic:179250"]
Even St. Paul took 3 years before he started his ministry. This, my priest often reminds me. As for myself, I completely withdrawed from the world, it was such a radical change and change in perspective. I am still somewhat in this state and I'm also interested in the response's to this thread. Thanks for starting it and good luck, or should I say, God Bless.

[/quote]

Hello TOP, :)

Yes, I have also withdrawn from the world. At first it was almost like finding myself in the middle of a desert dehydrated. I knew so very little about the Catholic faith - I was thirsty. I have had a burning desire in my soul for learning, the sacraments, adoration, prayer and practicing my faith.. I've read and read, and read, and then I read some more - almost like devouring the information of the Fathers of the Church, The Cathechism of the Catholic Church, the writings of the Popes, the stories of the Saints, Catholic theologians etc, etc, and there is so much more. I have not devoted much of this time to scripture because I have always read the Bible (never left home without it :) ). Nonetheless, I have been doing a lot of studious reading of Sacred Scripture and prayerful reading. Simultaneously, I did a lot of self examination and reevaluation.

Well, if we do not get more response and guidance I can tell you something you probably already know. That is, go to Adoration, take it one day at a time, and offer up what ever it is that you are doing. I am surprised that with all the books people write on some topics to the point as to really only be quoting and paraphrasing other authors there has not been extensive writing on this topic. There are a lot of books on the spiritual life such as the one by Saint John of the Cross and Saint Theresa and a great number by theologians. There is also a lot of general information but I haven't found much that address this point - aside from a lot of cliche'.

Top, there is a book that I can recommend which you may not have heard of that I am currently reading. It has helped me a lot to understand what is going on and I can see that I am in a process that is well defined - I just wish we could get a little more details. The book was written by the late Archbishop of Mexico; Luis M. Martinez and translated by Sister M. Aquinas, O.S.U. and is entitled: The Sanctifier. 1957. I have a copy of the first American edition. It was put back in print with a revision. I can see the need for a revision as so far I have come upon a couple of errors, such as in one section he writes that there are four of something but there are only three listed and errors of this nature which may have been done by the translator or at the printing press. I just happened to come upon this book in a book sale and it has really helped me.

There is a section where the archbishop writes that the Holy Spirit isolates the soul so that it can go through a period of purgation. This has happened to me just like it seems it has happened to you by the withdraw from the world. It's an interesting book. But, again, no clear advise nor guidance about how to practically handle the present situation. This situation I would think should be fairly common. Basically, once we have gone through or are going through a period of purgation, how does one practically adapt? I know that we are to imitate Jesus and serve but this does not answer the question.

Thank you for responding and sharing your experience.

My the Peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and may Our Blessed Mother Mary lead you to her son.

p.s. And, Good luck to you too. :)


#5

I'd suggest "Interior Castle" by Saint Teresa of Avila. She was a mystic who wrote about the seven stages - she calls them "mansions" - that souls strive to pass through, each mansion bringing them closer to intimacy with God.


#6

Have you considered the possibility of getting hooked up with a good spiritual advisor? Your pastor should be able to help with this.
A spiritual advisor could look at where you are specifically, much more than we can here, with regards to your life, career, family, and faith journey and help you set out a plan for growth.

Peace
James


#7

As an adjunct to the above, If you do wish to look at the mystics, may I suggest a book called, “The Fulfillment of All Desire”, subititled, “A Guidebook for the journey to God based on the Wisdom of The Saints”.
I tis a wonderful distillation of the teachings of the mystic Doctors of the Church. It draws from seven Doctors of the Church including Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Francis de Sales, Bernard of Clarvoux, Katherine of Sienna and more.
I found it to be an easy read and most helpful to me on my journey.

Peace
James


#8

[quote="JRKH, post:6, topic:179250"]
Have you considered the possibility of getting hooked up with a good spiritual advisor? Your pastor should be able to help with this.
A spiritual advisor could look at where you are specifically, much more than we can here, with regards to your life, career, family, and faith journey and help you set out a plan for growth.

Peace
James

[/quote]

This is the best advice. I read your post and can tell you I just went through 2 years of the same thing and feel as ignorant as you about similar things. Very painful. Very good. Increases love. Mine culminated in a life confession to who is now my spiritual director (he pushed me to do this for several months--I'm a hard case :shrug:).

You said, "To be more specific, I am planning to begin a new career which will be beneficial money wise and then there is a project of evangelization and helping the poor that is in the back burner.** I have** dependents and a duty and obligation to provide for them, so I need to get in the business world and make money to provide for them. I understand that we are called where we are at but, I am trying **to get a clear view or perspective of this stage. Hopefully in doing so **I commence my endeveor with confidence, motivation and passion.

This above is why you need a spiritual director. Mine told me this way of thinking was backward and my need to control my path. I have since noticed that through my worries, kicking and screaming, fighting, feeling guilty, etc.... God is having his way with me in ways I actually didn't want and am still hesitant about for reasons and more you listed above (and it has nothing to do with working with the poor, which is something I can do now because my husband is the financial provider for our family and he supports me in all ways).

Incidentally, the Church could use some real competent business savvy people..... at least from what I can see how they run things.


#9

Anna, like you, I can’t get enough information, even when I’m down and not feeling pious in any way, it is still a burning to know and think of the mystery’s. I think what has shocked me most is how costly something like this can be. The amount of loss is mind boggling. Pruning, the Saints say or sanding off rough edges, whatever you call it, never comes as expected. Keep in mind that St. Paul says, stay in your position in life if called, if called as a slave, serve as a slave, but now in the Lord. So it seems that an experience is for what is relevent at the time and future. Maybe not for us, but someone close to us, a potential Saint or someone who will cure cancer, whatever it may be.
I had a SD once who was an Opus Dei priest. They are often willing to do direction and operate very much in their calling, in the world. Very practical and perhaps a balenced choice in a director. Unfortunatly he moved to another parish far away. A mystical experience is unique to the one who experienced it. You can pick up pieces here and there, but it is something that is between you and the Lord, something unspeakable and can’t be understood by anyone else. You can search for labels, illumination, purgation, pruning, called from the world, anything, but it will always be unique to you. I think finding a practical balence is best, based in the objective truths and practice that. The gift of a mystical experience is something you can meditate on in your “darkened room”. And if the Lord presents an opportunity to share, let the Spirit do it for you. This is something I worry about, and that is St. Pauls warning to Timothy about preaching without charge. He later gave “charge” to him and I believe it was literly Holy Orders. I hope you find your purpose in the world, as a light for others in the way God called you. Tim


#10

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