Dives in Misericordiae 13fg: A State of Conversion

Divine_Mercy_Sanctuary_in_Vilnius4Picking up on yesterday’s idea that the era of pilgrimage is an era of mercy, not judgment, it makes sense that the Church’s message is one of mercy:

Therefore, the Church professes and proclaims conversion. Conversion to God always consists in discovering His mercy, that is, in discovering that love which is patient and kind (Cf. 1 Cor. 13:4) as only the Creator and Father can be; the love to which the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”(2 Cor. 1:3) is faithful to the uttermost consequences in the history of His covenant with (people); even to the cross and to the death and resurrection of the Son. Conversion to God is always the fruit of the rediscovery of this Father, who is rich in mercy.

Conversion, therefore, is not burdensome, but the opposite. Conversion to God relieves burdens, inner sufferings, and personal torments. Conversion is not just an event in a believer’s life, but also a new state, a new way of being:

Authentic knowledge of the God of mercy, the God of tender love, is a constant and inexhaustible source of conversion, not only as a momentary interior act but also as a permanent attitude, as a state of mind. Those who come to know God in this way, who “see” Him in this way, can live only in a state of being continually converted to Him. They live, therefore, in statu conversionis; and it is this state of conversion which marks out the most profound element of the pilgrimage of every man and woman on earth in statu viatoris. It is obvious that the Church professes the mercy of God, revealed in the crucified and risen Christ, not only by the word of her teaching but above all through the deepest pulsation of the life of the whole People of God. By means of this testimony of life, the Church fulfills the mission proper to the People of God, the mission which is a sharing in and, in a sense, a continuation of the messianic mission of Christ Himself.

But is it obvious? If believers do not attend to the need for continuing conversion, if they do not experience mercy, if they point to others who they think are not living up to good standards, I’m not sure it is obvious the Church proclaims the mercy of Christ.

Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to Dives in Misericordiae 13fg: A State of Conversion

  1. FrMichael says:

    “Conversion, therefore, is not burdensome, but the opposite.” I didn’t pick that up from this section. Yes, we encounter God’s mercy, patience, and kindness, and the peace that comes from these is always greater than what we leave behind. Yet conversion can sometimes come at a huge cost: loss of family and friends, bad yet pleasurable habits to be eradicated, the uncertainty of how a virtuous life should be lived. I guess this is front-and-center right now, since I’m working with a neophyte who is trying to piece together a new way of life in the aftermath of his baptism at the Easter Vigil. He is smart enough to recognize the continuing call to conversion baptism entails. With God’s help, he is courageous enough to start making profound changes in his life no matter their high cost.

    • Todd says:

      I was fortunate to find acceptance in my conversion. But the perspective and experience of a ten-year-old is different from someone established in a family, job, and circle of friends. With a nod to Max, I suspect Jesus’ counsel to leave behind loved ones was rooted less in a divine command and more in a deep understanding of human nature. Addicts, for example, rarely find unrecovered persons healthy social contacts. Alas, they are often close friends, family, children, parents, and even spouses.

      Conversion itself may not be burdensome in the sense of inner freedom, but the consequences of conversion may well be wrenching.

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