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Dear Fr. Joe: do I need to convert? I’m already Catholic.

Dear Fr. Joe: I’ve always been Catholic, do I need to have a conversion experience and what would that look and feel like? What do people mean when they ask if I am “born again?”
Everybody needs a conversion experience. Even more than that, all of us need a daily conversion experience. Well, maybe not my mother.
    I think I will answer the “born again” question before breaking the previous line down, so that my answer on the conversion question will make more sense.
    In your baptism, you were born again. The waters in the baptismal font are the waters of the womb of our holy mother, the church. You went in the water and emerged a new creation. At that point, your heart was directed toward God in a special way. Some other things happened, but I am focusing on your question.
    So, you were born again if you were baptized. The problem is, for a great many people, there wasn’t a ton of “follow through” after that. If that is the case, then you need to be “born again.”
    Think of it this way: Baptism gives you all the grace you need, but you have to respond to it each day in order to be fully born again. It’s like someone giving me Double Stuf Oreos –  receiving them is nice, but eating them is divine.
    Being born again is an expression that Jesus used to describe the process of entering into a personal relationship with him. This is when you, as an adult, make a commitment to Jesus to live the way he has called you to live.
    It’s called being born again because it is a rebirth – it’s that moment when all our priorities change, when the way we view the world changes. We are a new creature in Christ when we are born again. We give ourselves to Jesus: heart, mind, body and soul. We give him absolute lordship in our lives. This surrender will change us radically.
   When, where and how do you do it? Anywhere, anytime (though I am partial to doing this in front of the Blessed Sacrament). You get down on your knees and surrender your life to Jesus. I am not going to tell you how to pray, because you know what you need to say.
    Christianity is, in my mind, first and foremost about surrender. Conversion is a huge part of this.
    See, the closer we draw to Jesus, the more we realize how we have fallen short and how we continue to fall short. God understands this and meets us in our frailty, but he always, always wants us to do our best with his help.
    Conversion starts when we see the gap between who we are and who we are called to be; it continues when we feel sorrow about that gap and it reaches its pinnacle when we ask God’s forgiveness and help. God will fill that gap.
    This process of conversion is prompted and maintained by grace, or strength from heaven, and it must be a daily event.
    Enjoy another day in God’s presence.


by Fr. Joseph Krupp