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 Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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9 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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  3. Dick Martin says:

    According to the word of God : “Conversion is”, Human Nature ; that which we were born with ( the Nature of your father (Satan); needs to be converted back to your Heavenly Father. This is what being Born again means. If you are not Born Again you can’t enter into Heaven. Human Nature and Divine Nature are enemies of one another.
    Ephesians 2:1-3(NKJV)
    And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,
    in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,
    among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. Notice: You He Made alive, Were Dead. – When born of the Flesh you are dead, You need to be alive. if not your walking according to who? conducting yourself, fulfilling the desires of your flesh and mind AND WERE BY NATURE. When Adam and Eve sinned we didn’t inherit their sin; but their Sin Nature. Baptism does not cleans you from your Sin. Jesus is the only one that absolves you from all your sins.

    • Todd says:

      I think you are nitpicking on words and false impressions here, Dick. In baptism, it is the initiative of Christ–that is, grace–that effects the forgiveness of sin. Christians have held from the beginning, supported by many references in Saint Paul, that in baptism, a believer’s sins are forgiven. The agency of God is always paramount–this is acknowledged across all Christianity: Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, and Evangelicals.

  4. Dick Martin says:

    If you would look up the word Baptism in the Greek it has many meanings but ALL end up with the same–“to become one with”. there is the baptism of repentance by john the Baptist. Then there is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit; there is also the Baptism of Fire which Jesus talked about(persecution for being a believer, or being Christ himself. then there’s the Born again Baptism which you Must experience to enter heaven. There again water baptism is an outward sign of what has already happened in your Heart ( Spirit). Water does not save, only Jesus. It is finished , accomplished. Roman 10:10 explains this.
    Romans 10:8-10(NKJV)
    But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):
    that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
    For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. No water mentioned.

    • Todd says:

      I wouldn’t dissent from your emphasis on the notion that a water bath is an outward sign of a reality of grace that has already taken place. Water, as such, does not save. Neither does paper (as in pages of a Bible) or human flesh (that confesses via the tongue and vocal cords). Christ saves. All Christians accept this, and all Christians baptize new members with water as a public ritual signifying the grace of conversion.

      Acts 2:38 is foundational. Peter, when asked what to do, said “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

      May I ask if you accept the Biblical teaching of Acts 2:38? The long understanding of the connection of baptism with the forgiveness of sin and the imparting of the Holy Spirit seems like Christianity Basic to me. Are you on board with that?

  5. Dick Martin says:

    Peter was actually saying this: If you are lost and without hope, be Born Again everyone of you in the Name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven and receive the Holy Ghost ; the helper as a gift. The connection is Romans 10:10 and the separate Receiving the Holy Spirit. Acts: 19:1-6. You do receive the Holy Spirit when you are Born Again. Later you need the Fullness or Filling of the Holy Spirit and to be continuously filled through out your life. Love is of the Heart (spirit) not the exchanging of rings. Being Born Again is of the Heart (spirit) not the sprinkling of water. Basic elementary Christianity to Me. Are you on board with that ?

    • Todd says:

      You seem to have dodged the question. Peter’s words seem pretty clear to me. I’d rather see the Greek than rely on a human interpretation. I’m on board with the traditional Christian understanding of baptism. I have nothing more to say on the subject.

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