Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, at Mississippi Abbey
Flannery O’Connor once wrote, “It seems to me that all good stories are about conversion, … The action of grace changes [us]… All my stories are about the action of grace on [different] characters.“1 “I write the way I do because, and only because, I am a Catholic. I feel that if I were not a Catholic, I would have no reason to write, no reason to see, no reason to feel horrified or even to enjoy anything. … I have never had the sense that being a Catholic is a limit to my freedom as a writer, but just the reverse. … I feel that being a Catholic has saved me a couple thousand years in learning how to write.“2 That could be the story of St. Paul.
He does not call his experience on the road to Damascus a conversion but a revelation of the Truth that Jesus is the Lord. He writes, “I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:7-12) .
Like Flannery O’Connor and St. Paul, we are so tremendously enriched, given life in anbundance by being Catholics. The action of grace gives us faith, hope and love, and has saved us thousands of years in learning how to live, how to be really alive. Now we know that whether we eat or sleep, or work or play, all this is for Jesus, with Jesus, in Jesus, and from Jesus. When we laugh or cry, or sing or pray it is because we are Catholic, because grace has changed us so that we “forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead, … towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13-14) .
Fr. Stephen Doyle, a Franciscan writer and preacher, expressed it this way: “If the singing of birds and the humming of insects could be formed into a chorus, and if the rustling breeze and the tinkling rain could have a voice, and if the roar of the oceans could be put into words, they would all have one thing to [sing]: ‘We were made for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.‘”3
- Flannery O’Connor, Letters, 1958.
- Quotation in “A Good Woman Found,” by Chilton Williamson, Jr., www.amconmag.com/article/2006/mar/13/00015/
- Stephen Doyle, O.F.M., Catholic Update, Jan. 2001