Sometimes it seems as if some
Biblical passages seem to contradict themselves. For example, Jesus is called
the Prince of Peace, but at the same time He clearly stated that He has come
not to bring peace but the sword. Father
will be against son and son against father…. Family members will be divided
instead of united. Is there a contradiction here?
This is the case! When somebody sincerely goes through a
radical conversion in his faith to Christ, where he wants to follow the Lord
Jesus not partially or at times or conditionally but fully, unconditionally
and without any reservations and he decided to live out this conversion
in the context of his family, then more often than not all hell breaks loose!
Unfortunately, many followers of
Christ settle with a minimalist attitude—meaning, to do as little as possible
to follow Christ. In other words, huge
numbers of Christians and Catholics live a mediocre, tepid, half-baked
existence. They fling out the phrase: “I am a good person. I do not rob, nor
kill, and now and then I will give a dollar to a poor person on the street.”
The Book of Revelation warns these
types of people that because they are neither hot nor cold but lukewarm they
will be vomited or spat out of the mouth of God. (Rev. 3: 15) Strong language,
but very Biblical!
What might be some concrete examples
where we see this total and radical following of Jesus as a source of sword and
division in the family? Let us enter
into this explosive but all too prevalent reality!
DAILY MASS. After a radical conversion often there is a
magnetic pull towards Holy Mass and Holy Communion. Whereas before Sunday Mass was sufficient;
now there is a real hunger for the Bread of Life on a daily basis. However the mediocre criticize this as going overboard—just too much! Why go to
daily Mass if Sunday Mass is the requirement!
DAILY HOLY HOUR. The Psalmist offers us these consoling
words: “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” Once the converted soul has tasted the
sweetness of prayer there is an inner yearning that can only be satisfied by
spending longer blocks of quality time before the Blessed Sacrament. The lazy and sensualist views this as mere
madness. Better to spend hours in front of the television or the computer!
ANNUAL RETREAT: 3-DAYS/8DAYS. If a woman has gone through a sincere
radical conversion she might feel the urgent need to follow the invitation of
Jesus: “Come apart for a while and rest…. I am meek and humble of heart…my yoke
is easy and my burden is light….” This invitation is materialized in a longer
retreat which might be a weekend or even as much as an eight-day Ignatian
retreat. If her husband is a nominal
catholic that attends Sunday Mass most of the time and that’s it, then this
urgent appeal of his wife to get away for a week might seem to be
preposterous! It is interesting to
note: how easy it is for families to go on vacation for two weeks or even a
month almost every summer. However, to give Jesus a week of the year seems to
be mere insanity for the worldly-minded.
CONFESSION EVERY TWO OR THREE
WEEKS! The person who has undergone a
radical metanoia—conversion experience—usually changes his outlook on life and
with this his conscience becomes all the more delicate and refined.
Consequently actions that he carried out before that did not bother his
conscience now indeed do! Such actions
as telling a white lie, arriving late to work or Mass, viewing programs on TV
with sexually explicit content, blurting out indecent words, listening to
off-colored jokes—these actions never bothered him before; they were par for
the course. Now these actions immediately provoke remorse of conscience.
Therefore, he feels a call to purify his conscience more frequently through the
Blood of Christ in the Sacrament of Penance. Now a worldly-minded person would
call this person that goes to confession every other week as scrupulous or
living with a warped conscience.
DRESS-CODE. Before undergoing a radical conversion that
might come about by doing the Ignatian Exercises, Mary would dress according to
the modern culture and society—TV. standards and Hollywood as the norm and standard. Of course her husband enamored with the
world would be in full agreement. After conversion Mary can no longer dress as
she did in the past; now, it seems to her as both repulsive and repugnant. No longer is Hollywood her model and
standard, but the Blessed Virgin Mary is now her model and guide in all, but
especially in what it means to be feminine and a woman of God. The provocative dresses of the past that she
has in her wardrobe she looks at with both disdain and disgust. Her husband
views her as if she has lost her sanity! He reasons: if God has given her
physical beauty why should she not flaunt it for full view of the onlookers. He
reasons, beauty is a gift from God and it should not be hidden. Mary, however,
holds her turf and ends up by trashing her provocative (and she believes to be
sinful) wardrobe, so as to imitate all the more perfectly Our Lady as Model,
Mother, Teacher, Woman and Guide.
In conclusion, this article serves as
a strong support of all of those good Catholics who have gone through a radical
conversion in the course of their lives. As a consequence of this radical
conversion they are not only mis- understood, especially by the members of
their own household, but they are even persecuted by silence, harsh words,
sarcastic or ironic remarks and derisive gestures.
We encourage all of you to persevere
and to focus on Jesus and Mary and to cling to them. They must be our Models
and guides. Finally read and meditate the last Beatitude of Jesus that He gave
in the context of the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are they who are persecuted
for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are
you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against
you (falsely) because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great
in heaven. They persecuted the prophets
who were before you.” (Mt. 5: 10-12)