Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
January 25th, 2012

Ken Reed-Bouley

Creighton Center for Service and Justice
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul
[519] Acts 22:3-16 or Acts 9:1-22
Psalm 117:1bc, 2
Mark 16:15-18


So how are those New Year’s Resolutions coming? What’s that? You don’t eat healthier, weigh less, exercise more, and rise earlier to pray (or some variation of self-improvement)? Well, take heart. All conversions are not quick and complete the way that we think of St. Paul’s.

The Christian Tradition rightly upholds St. Paul and his radical shift from persecuting Christians to preaching the Gospel of Jesus. I am grateful for his model of a 180 degree conversion and passionate love and action for Jesus. That just doesn’t happen to be many people’s primary experience of how God works in their lives.

There are times in my life that I can quickly and strongly recall when I have felt internally God’s presence and known God’s love. But my experience of God has tended to be a slow, methodical, deepening of faith, often incorporating two steps forward and one step backward, rather than a fast “one and done.”

Some Christian faith traditions have tended to emphasize the Pauline “blinded by the light” moment of conversion, being born again at a particular time and place. Others have recognized a slow, patient, sometimes monotonous conversion over a lifetime of prayer, ritual, and good habits. I believe the “good news” is that God can (and does) work both ways, sometimes with the same person.

So please read and admire and appreciate St. Paul’s radical conversion story. Then read the wisdom of a wonderful Jesuit, paleontologist, and mystic who died in 1955, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J:

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability--and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually--let them grow,
Let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don't try to force them on, as though you could be today
what time will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.

-Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. from The Making of the Mind

 Dear God, quickly or slowly or a little of both, please help us to grow ever closer to You, converting ever deeper to your love and desires for us and our world. Amen.

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