Let’s read about one of my favorite words today:
55. Faith involves a change of life, a “metanoia”, (Cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi 10; Ad Gentes 13b; CCC 1430-1431) that is a profound transformation of mind and heart; it causes the believer to live that conversion. (Evangelii Nuntiandi 23) This transformation of life manifests itself at all levels of the Christian’s existence: in (one’s) interior life of adoration and acceptance of the divine will, in (one’s)action, participation in the mission of the Church, in (one’s) married and family life; in (one’s) professional life; in fulfilling economic and social responsibilities.
Faith and conversion arise from the “heart”, that is, they arise from the depth of the human person and they involve all that (person) is. By meeting Jesus Christ and by adhering to him the human being sees all of (the) deepest aspirations completely fulfilled. He (or she) finds what (they) had always been seeking and … finds it superabundantly. (Cf. Ad Gentes 13) Faith responds to that “waiting”, (Cf. Redemptoris Missio 45c) often unconscious and always limited in its knowledge of the truth about God, about (humankind) and about the destiny that awaits (us). It is like pure water (Cf. Redemptoris Missio 46d) which refreshes the journey of (humankind), wandering in search of (our) home. Faith is a gift from God. It can only be born in the intimacy of (the human) heart as a fruit of that “grace [which] moves and assists (us)”, (Dei Verbum 5; cf. CCC 153) and as a completely freeresponse to the promptings of the Holy Spirit who moves the heart and turns it toward God, and who “makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth”. (Dei Verbum 5; cf. CCC 153) The Blessed Virgin Mary lived these dimensions of faith in the most perfect way. The Church “venerates in Mary the purest realization of faith”. (CCC 149)
Too often we readily accept “heart” as a metaphor for emotions, for the affective life. I’m glad to see it used here for the depths of human experience and longing for God. This is truly more than just “feelings” for God. It underscores that an approach that is primarily intellectual is in danger from not being deep enough. While we speak of “deep thinkers” in our culture, I’m not convinced that the strains of intellectualism and rationalism are sufficiently broad to bear the full weight of metanoia. At least in this context.
Conversion presumes we turn everything over to Christ: our insides and outside, thoughts and feelings, reflection and actions, as well as every imaginable umbrella under which we declare ourselves: spouse, family member, worker, student, friend, citizen, church member, etc.. Nothing escapes Christian conversion. Or should.