As I read today’s Scripture for the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul during my morning prayer I recalled having posted a reflection on this passage sometime in the past. Looking back, I found I had written Conversions on this date in 2019. Immersing myself in that memory, I relived my own conversion experience and, once again, recalled the immense love I felt when I let myself hear God calling my name.
I also recalled this morning I had a similar recollection two weeks ago on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord about which I wanted to write but didn’t have the time. This happens frequently – I get an inspiration but then don’t have the time to put it down in coherent form. It can be a little frustrating but then I’m sure it’s all part of God’s plan. But, over the last few days I’ve been confined to an upstairs bedroom/office with that little thing called Covid so I have some extra time to reflect and write. (Don’t be concerned, it seems to be a very mild case.)
That Sunday, two weeks ago, I was at the Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas attending Catholic Spiritual Mentorship Week. As Deacon Tom Schumer read from the Gospel of Mark (Mk 1:7-11) at Mass, I was drawn back to that day eight years and ten months ago when I knew and felt in my heart for the first time that I was also a beloved son of God. As it always is when I slip back to that life changing moment, I felt an intense warmth and an overwhelming sense of gratitude for having received His love and being called to this life.
As Fr. Steve Sotiroff delivered his homily on the Gospel and related it to the Holy Spirit filling our hearts at our own baptisms, I naturally recounted my baptism almost a year after my conversion experience. It seemed as though my heart had, over the previous year, already become enflamed to the point of being on fire for the Lord, such that my actual baptism was more an experience of intense gratitude (and a sigh of relief) for my sins having been forgiven.
It crossed my mind how truly blessed I was to have had my conversion experience at the age of fifty-five. I was able to not only remember it but to wrap it around me like a warm and comfortable blanket! Although I truly believe it is essential for Catholics to baptize their children as infants, I thought what a difference there would be if every Catholic could have a “re-conversion” experience like mine, how we could, collectively, light the world on fire. But, then, it occurred to me that they can have one, and many do, when men and women like you and me invite them to simply crack open the door to let the Holy Spirit come sweeping in, rekindling the fire that has been allowed to die down since their baptism.
A familiar prayer that I’ve recited hundreds of times came to mind:
The Communion hymn at Mass that Sunday was a favorite, but one that, unless you’ve been in the Mentoring program would not know. It is an original composition entitled Your Spirit, written and composed by Sr. Ruth Kuefler, AVI. It is a truly beautiful song, especially when she graces it with an excellent in-person performance on her violin, which she did that day. Ever since I first heard it four years ago it has pierced me like a sword and brought me to tears, so powerful are the lyrics. The chorus particularly hit home that day:
After Mass I caught Sr. Ruth’s attention and told her for the umpteenth time how beautiful her song is, how it strikes me, and suggested that she ought to copyright it and publish it. To my surprise, she told me she had finally done that just the day before and published it as a YouTube video. I feel honored to be able to share Your Spirit with you here (if you like it, please give it a thumbs up and share with others).
“Lord Jesus, thank You for Your love. Thank You for sending the Holy Spirit, the love between You and the Father, into my heart. Thank You for showing me through the people You’ve placed in my life, and the beauty of this world, like this song, that I am Your beloved son. I pray for the grace to help others come to know the same. Amen.”
(Come Holy Spirit was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
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