CATHOLICS ARE MADE NOT BORN
Brothers and Sisters,
In just over a week, the Church will celebrate a very special holy day that marks a turning point in Christianity; on 25 January, we will celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle. Most of us will remember the story of how it happened: a man, Saul, was trying to discourage people from becoming Christian – even to the point of killing people found to be practicing the Faith – and one miraculous day, Christ Himself spoke to him and changed his life and his understanding of the Holy Faith.
It is a special day for the Church for many reasons. Firstly, the largest detractor of the Holy Faith became its biggest supporter. Once Saul became Paul, he began to convince people to become Christians and practice the Faith. After his conversion, Saint Paul went to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles to be sure that he, Paul, truly was a Christian and rightly understood the Holy Faith. After that, he stated to found parishes across much of the Eastern half of the Roman Empire. Saint Paul even dreamed of going all the way to modern-day Spain to try to convince the people there to become Christians as well. Saint Paul became a model for all Christians (and, in a very special way, missionaries) because of his willingness to talk to everyone he met about the Holy Faith.
Secondly, Saint Paul is a convert to the Holy Faith and, even if our parents were both practicing Catholics, all of us are converts to the Holy Faith. The Saint Paul story shows the Church – even today – that those who are outside of the Holy Faith will often hate the Faith. Saint Paul lashed out against Christians and Christianity without knowing what he was doing. We see this even today; lots of us know people who think Catholics are strange and Mass is a scary, weird thing. Further, lots of people who may have Catholic parents who rarely have come to Mass; this alone makes it difficult if not impossible to understand the Holy Faith in any way. Similarly, I imagine that all of us know adult children of practicing Catholic parents who do not practice the Holy Faith. In all of these cases we see that, like Saint Paul, all of us need to be converts. Being raised in a home with practicing Catholic parents does not mean that you will be a practicing Catholic yourself. Each of us needs to make the choice to follow Christ and practice the Holy Faith.
To make this possible, we need to have good experiences of Christians. Without a family and group of friends who are great examples of the Holy Faith, it is very difficult for anyone to be open to the Holy Faith. Further, all of us can help support others become strong members of the Faith by showing others how important the Faith is to us in our homes and lives. Growing up, I remember going to see friends in their homes and being impressed by how prayer was part of their family life – even when they had a guests in their home. Set yourself and other up for success in the Holy Faith by making sure everyone – including yourself – can see that the Holy Faith is a key part of your day every day of the week and every week of the year.