Wednesday, 22 September 2010

A Conversion Opportunity for all of us, including our Bishops

Breadgirl’s recent comment has helped me to clarify my thoughts somewhat on an important aspect of the Holy Father’s visit. Specifically, it feels as if we have been offered a conversion opportunity.

I remember the reported words of one of the Polish bishops, in the early 1980s, who said “We all need conversion.” By which, of course, he meant not only those who did not believe, but everyone, whatever their position in the Church, whatever the stage they had reached in their spiritual journey. That has stuck in my mind as something simple and yet profound. None of us has yet arrived where God wants us to be.

This brings me to our bishops. Their conversion opportunity has arrived too. They are not a single, corporate entity; each of them, as a child of God, is on his own individual spiritual path, and only God knows how far they have progressed. What will they make of this moment of grace?

To state it very simply, the call to conversion is the call to repent and believe. Or, if we are already on the Christian journey, to detach ourselves more comprehensively from sin, and to believe more profoundly; and this both in our words and in our actions.

As John the Baptist said: “If you are repentant, produce the appropriate fruits.” The “Light of the World” initiative is, I believe, a simple but rather wonderful conversion-fruit. Who knows what fruits it will itself give rise to? I am sure more good things will come; but there will be resistance, there will be closed minds and amused indifference, even, dare I say it, among the hierarchy and clergy. But I very much hope not. I plan to be realistic, but optimistic. And I will be joining my prayers to those of many others, in praying for our bishops and priests in this new Benedictine era.

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