Thursday, October 17, 2013

To Teach a New Melody

Thursday greetings from cool and rainy Chicago.

In my preparations for my presentation on Saturday for the good RCIA folks in the diocese of Joliet, I came across a few quotes about conversion.

The first is one of my favorites:

"Conversion means Jacob-wrestling, a profound self-emptying and stripping. It is radical willingness to allow Christ, the choirmaster, to teach a new melody, a chant that promises resurrected life, but that now is mingled with tears. Metanoia and penthos, the gift of tears, always go together."

This was penned by my late friend and colleague John J. O'Brien in his article "Hearts Prepared and Renewed: Conversion in the Community of the Church," in Liturgical Ministry, Volume 15, Spring 2006, Liturgical Press.

The second was written by now Bishop Edward Braxton in one of my favorite books, Conversion and the Catechumenate, now sadly out of print. Writing about Christian conversion, Braxton wrote:

"Christian conversion is a personal appropriation of the paschal mystery. Jesus becomes not a stained glass window figure, not a holy card image, not an emasculated statue on a pedestal, not a coherent doctrine, but a living, pulsating, challenging brother and Lord who walks with you and talks with you and tells you that he loves you.”

One of my main points on Saturday will be to echo what the Church has been teaching about evangelization: that one cannot evangelize until one becomes evangelized over and over again throughout life. And this presenter needs to hear those words and take them to heart time and time again. My prayer today is that I can hear that "new melody" being taught by Christ.

Thank you John O'Brien and Bishop Braxton.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

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