Mar. 17, 2010
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Conversion: Does It Ever End?

I don't know about you, but to me Lent seems to be the longest of the Church's liturgical seasons—probably because it's the only one that puts real demands on us. Catholics are working hard during Lent (more about "working Lent" in a moment)! We're helping to "make" new Christians. The "catechumens" are called "the elect" after the First Sunday of Lent, when these candidates for Baptism were "elected" and approved for the Easter Sacraments. They are now in the final days of preparation. Formation teams in parishes helping the process of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) are worrying about liturgies, white robes, schedules and practices. Pastors, worship committees and musicians are readying the complex rites of Holy Week and the Triduum. The candidates themselves must be anticipating this big "life change."

And what about all the rest of us?

Ordinary Catholics, we hope, have been walking a Lenten path of their own. They shouldn't be isolated from all the RCIA stuff—after all, the purpose of Lent is to prepare the catechumens. In fact, the Lent of all Catholics is meant to be, in part, an act of solidarity with the candidates for Baptism. But Lent is also about the kind of personal conversion that is the ongoing work of every Catholic.

It's ongoing because we Catholics, frankly, don't subscribe to a once-for-all, "I gave my life to Jesus" kind of conversion. No offense to fellow Christians intended here! Rather, it's a matter of perspective. Even if you committed to Christ as a teenager, or were baptized as an adult, doesn't every day offer choices (temptations?) to stray from that commitment? Doesn't every day present new opportunities to reinforce that choice of Jesus as personal savior?

Lent is a time of emphasizing that ongoing process of choosing. And, from our perspective, it is "work." It's difficult. It's a desert at times.

But there's also the caveat that all conversion, all Christian life, is "graced." That is, it is all a gift from God. Our Baptism as infants, our upbringing in Christian life, our adult choice for Jesus, our daily struggle with temptation, the "graced" moments when we see God's love at work: All these are gifts, all are made possible by God's power. Without God, we could not exist, much less walk the Lenten path.

So, yes, Lent seems long, and the conversion-road seems never to end. But if we think it's all our doing, abandoning the path will soon seem like a good choice. Let's not forget to let go, and allow God to woo us, entice us along the way, challenge us with choices and—yes—carry us over the rough stretches.

Our Franciscan Media Production Team has been offering you wonderful conversion stories all Lent long. Our Lenten Radio Retreat is online at Our colleagues at have plenty of Lenten features. Why not take us along during your final days of Lenten discovery

Father Greg Friedman, O.F.M.
American Catholic Radio: Upcoming Episodes (#10-13 , #10-14)
Use the links below to preview the shows or download them in MP3 format for broadcast.
Highlights from this episode include:

Living Faith
Producer Judy Zarick continues her series on "Conversion": Kari Beckman feels that there were three miracles in her life that brought her to the Catholic Church. She came from an unstable childhood and a difficult physical abnormality to learn to love the Church.

Ask a Franciscan
Father Dan Kroger answers email questions submitted to

Marriage Moment
As part of the United States Catholic bishops' initiative on marriage, family life counselors Jim and Susan Vogt answer the question, "What are the rules for arguing?"

Exploring Our Faith

Fr. Mark Thibodeaux, S.J., is a spiritual director, retreat master and preacher; he's served as a prison chaplain and teacher. He's also aided refugees in Uganda. Currently, Fr. Mark is Director of Novices for the New Orleans Jesuit Province, helping to form young men preparing to commit their lives to Christ in the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits. Fr. Mark also has written two bestselling books on prayer and a Catholic Update article, "Praydreaming: Key To Discernment," the topic he discusses with Producer John Feister.
Highlights from this episode include:

Living Faith
Producer Judy Zarick continues her series on "Conversion": Steven Mosher is an internationally recognized authority on China and population issues, as well as an acclaimed author and speaker. He is the president of the nonprofit Population Research Institute. He came from a non-religious academic background to find the Catholic Church through his work in China.

Ask a Franciscan
Father Don Miller answers email questions submitted to

Marriage Moment
More help for married couples from nationally known marriage ministers, retreat leaders, educators and motivational speakers Andrew and Terri Lyke, who answer the question, "How does having relationship skills help a marriage?"

Exploring Our Faith

Dr. Lawrence S. Cunningham is the John A. O'Brien Professor of Theology at Notre Dame University, where he's taught for over 20 years, winning awards for his teaching and academic work. Dr. Cunningham's scholarly interests are in the areas of systematic theology and culture, Christian spirituality. He has edited or written more than 25 books and over 50 articles. Among them are three books on the American Trappist and author Thomas Merton. Dr. Cunningham joins Producer John Feister to talk about Merton, whose life and writing have had a great impact on many American Catholics since he chronicled his conversion to Catholicism in his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, published in the 1940s.

Franciscan Radio
Link to audio features Saint of the Day, Sunday Soundbites, and American Catholic Radio.
American Catholic Radio
A weekly half-hour catechetical program, in the popular style of the Franciscans.
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