One of the great feast days of the month of January is the Conversion of Saint Paul. So, for this month, I hope to highlight some Christian thinkers — both ancient and contemporary — who have written about conversion as a phenomenon and as a way of life.
For today, here’s a definition of conversion from the late Father Thomas Dubay, SM:
To a goodly number of people the idea of moral conversion is heavily negative, even threatening. It suggests giving up fun things, making sacrifices, cutting down and cutting out, getting rid of numerous selfishnesses. This reaction is understandable, but it is only the smaller aspect of a larger and liberating truth.
An accurate synonym for conversion, as we are using the word here, would be transformation. Put simply, conversion is a basic and marked improvement on the willing level of the human person. Even more pointedly, it is a fundamental change in our willed activities from bad to good, from good to better, and from better to best. Anyone who is fully alive will find this a stimulating set of ideas. We can put the matter in still another way. Conversion is a change from vice to virtue: from deceit and lying to honesty and truth… gluttony to temperance… vanity to humility… lust to love… avarice to generosity… rage to patience… laziness to zeal… ugliness to beauty.