May 13, 2022

Guest Column / Richard Etienne

Like St. Paul, we are called to conversion in our lives of faith

Richard EtienneIf you are reading this column in The Criterion, then you have probably made another much bigger decision at some point in your spiritual development. You are making a conscious effort to continue growing in your life of faith.

You may wonder where this column is going. I propose that something happened in your life to encourage you to keep searching for spiritual inspiration on a regular basis.

What was it? Was it an especially meaningful reconciliation at some point? Was it someone you saw as a spiritual mentor, who challenged you and your faith? Was it a parish mission speaker?

For me, it was during a high school senior retreat many years ago. The retreat was an extended weekend model where I truly embraced the message that I was lovable—right now, just as I am—not in some faraway time and place in the distant future when I would somehow become a perfect Christian.

And I also realized that I was gifted with many talents, and thereby should use these gifts within the greater communities around me. Through these actions, I understood I would find the most joy and self-fulfillment in life because only on this path would I be carrying out God’s will.

My experience wasn’t as dramatic as St. Paul’s conversion in chapter nine of the Acts of the Apostles. But it did start me in a new direction on this journey along the way where I began to take more responsibility in my spiritual development.

In Acts, we read Paul was knocked from a horse and temporarily left blind (Acts 9:8-9). Isn’t it appropriate that he couldn’t “see” properly until he started to follow Jesus?

I, like Paul, knew after that high school retreat that I had been changed. And some changes in life are permanent.

I applaud all of you in your attempts to grow in your life of faith. I wish each of you joy along your journey. Let us give thanks for those who have sown the seeds of faith in us. May those seeds yield 30, 60 and 100 fold!

(Richard Etienne has a degree in theology from Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad and resides in Newburgh, Ind.)

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