Friday, November 5, 2010

Brick By Brick

"A lifelong conversion consists of many reasons and arguments, much study and discerning," writes J.W. Blakely in his conversion story for the Word On Fire blog.
"Despite what the modern world tells us, conversions are not simply some irrational process by which we leap blindly and flailing into the dark. They are rather an act of construction, of care and of building, of change and of practice. Like the building of a solid church they are slow and methodical, brought up brick by brick, the cracks patched and kept up through bad weather. But unlike the construction of a church, the building itself is invisible, its materials the extension of our own lives through time."

(click here to read more at Fr. Robert Barron's Word On Fire, and click here for Blakely's entire conversion story.)

I venture to guess that many of us would use a similar description when considering our own conversion stories. I know it's true of mine. It would take years to find the words for all I've come to know (which when considered amid the wonders of all of creation, is practically nothing). We need the metaphors because what we have come to know about our God cannot possibly be funneled into a cleverly turned phrase or slogan for which the world has been conditioned. As Thomas Aquinas said, "To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible." Yet we are compelled to explain it, because what we've found is what everyone seeks from within their inmost being whether they know it or not, whether they believe it or not.

We often refer to our life as a journey--a trek up a mountain, or through great mansions, or on pathways straight and narrow or long and winding, or as Blakely has in his conversion story, as a process of building something. Conversion isn't an overnight thing--we don't just wake up one day and "get it", and we don't find answers through intellectual exercises around Scripture, the Doctors of the Church, the Catechism or any other resource.

      The Truth Speaks To Us Without Noise Of Words
      "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth." 1 Kings 3:9

      ...Let not Moses nor any of the prophets speak to me, but speak Thou rather, 
                 O Lord God, who art the inspirer and enlightener of all the prophets, 
                 for Thou alone without them canst perfectly instruct me, but they 
                 without Thee will avail me nothing.
      They may indeed sound forth words, but they give not the spirit.
      They speak well, but if Thou be silent they do not set the heart on fire.
      They deliver the letter, but Thou discloseth the sense. They publish mysteries, 
                  but Thou explainest the meaning of the thing signified.
      They declare the commandments, but Thou enablest us to keep them.
      They show the way, but Thou givest strength to walk in it.
      They work only outwardly, but Thou instructest and enlightenest the heart.
      They water exteriorly, but Thou givest the increase.
      They cry out with words, but Thou givest understanding to the hearing.

- from My Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis
Book III Chapter 2: How Truth Speaks

It took Blakely being almost incapacitated with an undiagnosed illness to finally be in a state of mind where he could actually discern the voice of God, and begin to know the truth that God so desperately wants us all to know. You will be thoroughly enriched by his conversion story.



Eddie Ray said...

I totally agree........even now after 53 years there are times when all of the sudden I'll be talking to someone about a certain subject and "Boom"....I'll get it........Faith is a never ending learning process.Thank you for challenging my intellect.

Gina said...

I know what you mean about those "a-ha" moments...and thank you for challenging my intellect as well!

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Lovely post & blog..I will link to you..

Gina said...

Hi Jackie, thanks for reading!

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