Conversion during the Ignatian Year

Australian Jesuit Provincial Fr Quyen Vu SJ reflects on the events that led to the conversion of Saint Paul and Saint Ignatius, and explores how we can embrace conversion in our lives today.

It is now just over a month since the commencement of the Ignatian Year for the whole Society of Jesus. During the Ignatian Year, Fr General, Arturo Sosa SJ, invited all of us to ‘See all things new in Christ’ and encouraged us on a journey of conversion at personal, communal, and institutional levels.

Conversion is a grace which God offers to each of us freely and on a daily basis. We are given many opportunities to experience our own personal conversion in small ways, but for most of the time, we are unable to recognise them or are not aware of them at all. However, we need to respond to God’s free gift so that we can become a better person each day. This gift is an invitation to change an aspect of ourselves that would lead us closer to God instead of away from God.

It could be refraining from gossiping or saying something negative about a friend or a colleague. It could be addressing unhealthy habits, for instance, by having one bottle of beer instead of two or a glass of wine less than our usual daily intake or by doing more physical exercise to keep us away from the doctors. However, for conversion to take place, it must start with ourselves and the conviction that we need to overcome our shortcomings. We all have shortcomings which need to be overcome but we must take ownership of them.

On another level, conversion usually takes place when someone experiences a major crisis in his/her life. For instance, St Paul was converted when he fell off a horse. As for St Ignatius, it was a cannonball that led to his conversion. These major events awakened spiritual, psychological and emotional aspects of their life that made such a conversion possible. We, too, can experience a personal conversion. However, our own conversion may not be due to a crisis in our life but may entail simply turning away from something that we are overly attached to or from saying something negative about a family member, our friends, or our colleagues.

As St Paul and St Ignatius were able to experience Christ through their conversion, so may we, too, be able to see and experience Christ through our own conversion during the Ignatian Year.

Fr Quyen Vu SJ


Main image: Artwork by Ignasi Flores