‘Make us come back to you, Yahweh, and we will come back. Restore us as we were before!’ (Lam. 5: 21)
Man’s fixation on doing what he wants, when he wants and the illusion of freedom, result in a journey into the things of this world which causes us to risk our destiny as co-inheritors of The Kingdom of God. Yet it is through this journey of the Free Will that we realize that we are not complete without God and His love in our daily lives. We then realize that we must declare ourselves before God as His repentant children. The process of returning to the protection and unity with Our Father is that full circle journey where the Grace of God is always the instrument. His love is always calling gently to His child.
It is the next covenant with God that we establish in this Mission after our Consecration: Metanoia (Met-uh-noi-uh) a profound spiritual transformation–a conversion or awakening, a fundamental change of character–, i.e. a change in our hearts towards God. And it must be step by step because it is a radical transformation of our life. We must decide with all of our heart to stop offending God in all things, to die to self and to the things of this world. These initial awakenings of conscience must be accompanied soon afterwards by a sorrow of the spirit and compunction of the heart. It is a sincere and contrite desire to be one with God. That we may never be separated from Him again is the cry of the child that was lost but has been found.
Our Church teaches us that we have been made holy and without blemish through our baptism and confirmation. However, these initiations have not eliminated the vulnerability, which resides within our human nature to sin. This is the travail of conversion, the redemptive struggle that each of us is called to. In Mark 1:15 we read: “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the Gospel”.
It is through faith in the Gospel and through baptism where we give up and reject evil; where the door opens to eternal life, enhanced and made imminently possible through the gift of a new life, a metanoia. It is in consecration that a grace awaits all of mankind, the grace of conversion. A gift to all who happen to allow, if only for a moment, the Holy Spirit to move them just enough to be able to say: “yes Father… I am sorry, please forgive me and help me Lord, please help me!”
It must always be understood that this second conversion that we refer to, is a work of all the Church, an on-going endeavour. But one that is not just the work of us but more properly of God, as psalm 51 tells us: “this endeavour of conversion is the movement of a contrite heart, drawn and moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first.” In His great love for each of us, it is He who gives us that new heart, that new life with Him for those who call to Him from their hearts—‘save me O Lord, for I am a sinner!’
It is thus the call of God, which is the author of conversion. It is first and foremost a grace of God, one that helps us to realize and then hopefully freely accept, the need to dramatically change our life; a flight to the son-ship of God, a burning desire to know, love and serve God our Father with all of our heart through the path given to us by Jesus. It is a time where we exorcise sin and through our daily life stop offending our Father. We, with a sincere and contrite heart, turn from evil and sin. And it is his love which becomes the core of our daily life and of our existence that restores all and gives us the daily strength to reject the evil and wickedness of this world and its traps, falsehoods and deceit.
As our hearts open, unprotected and defenceless, we feel, possibly for the first time, the embrace of our Father. This is when the dialogue with God, this relationship with Him, can begin, through prayer from the heart. It is then that this on-going interior conversion manifests itself through visible signs, gestures and works of penance.
The church teaches us that interior penance must come above all, in three forms: fasting, prayer and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God and to others. Efforts to reconcile, tears of repentance, concern for the salvation of a neighbour, the intercession of saints and the practice of charity, are all pathways to obtaining forgiveness of sins. The more we confess, the more we repent, the more is revealed to us and we are fed within this metanoia, with the food of God that nourishes a soul that was, until this time, malnourished.
Conversion is then accomplished in daily life by concern for the poor, the exercise and defense of justice and right, admission of faults, fraternal correction, revision of life, examination of conscience, spiritual direction, acceptance of suffering, endurance of persecution for the sake of righteousness and taking up one’s cross each day and following Jesus is the surest way of penance.
It is here that the Mission suggests as ways of growing spiritually through, among other things, understanding our faith and its principles:
Let us remember that God wills for all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Our Lord says in John 6,37: ‘I will certainly not reject anyone who comes to me’; and continues in Luke chapter 11: “ask and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you…how much will the heavenly Father give his Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Let us approach our Father then with great trust and love, as children, expecting all from His goodness, steadfast in the certainty we have that this journey towards union with Him has been made possible through Jesus Christ Our Lord, and that all we need is to ask, search and knock, and the graces we need will be given to us. Our God is good! He is our Father and He loves us! And all He wants from each one of us is to be loved back, with all of our hearts, all of our souls and all of our minds. That’s the accomplishment of a life as a child of God. Then and only then can we ever understand the way, the need and the call to the citizenship of heaven, of eternity….to love one another.
International Director of Metanoia: Carol Rivera.
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