Father Charles Ravert

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Pax et Bonum+ Paz y Todo lo Bueno

It’s a new year, 2023! This is that time when we make our resolutions to change our lives for the better in the new year. We buy exercise equipment or join a gym to get in shape, we buy nicotine patches to quit smoking, or we buy whatever we’ll need to help us keep our resolutions. Some of us spend hundreds maybe even thousands of dollars on our new year’s resolutions. But by February we’ve usually had enough and our resolutions fall away.

Maybe you are one of the lucky ones who didn’t spend much money or any on your resolutions. But there is still a cost to giving up our good resolutions. Giving up our resolutions means giving up positive change in our lives.

Missing out on these positive changes is the real cost of giving up. Did you know though that our Christian life is all about resolutions, making positive changes in our lives? We call this process of change, conversion.

Now wait, I know what you’re going to say, “But Father, conversion? I’m already Catholic, why do I need to convert?”

The conversion we’re talking about isn’t just the process of becoming a disciple, it’s ongoing process of “remaining” a disciple. Ongoing conversion happens when we cooperate with God’s grace through the Sacraments to make or renew the habits and duties of Christian discipleship.

A basic example, God calls us through Scripture to pray always, so we ask for his grace to help us pray the Rosary everyday. Then we actually make the effort to pray the Rosary everyday.

See, God’s grace isn’t magic or some kind of spiritual compulsion. It’s a gift given whenever we ask or need it. But like any gift if we don’t accept that grace and use it, that gift cannot make any difference in our lives.

Too many disciples become stagnant in their faith journey because they’re waiting for God to drop some kind of magical sign in their laps or for God to somehow force change in their lives.

When Jesus called his disciples in the Gospels he told them to follow him. Jesus extended the invitation but it was up to each of them to get up and choose to follow.

Our discipleship will become stagnant if we stop choosing to follow Jesus everyday. Ongoing conversion is choosing Jesus above all else everyday of our lives.

The positive changes we wish to have as disciples come when we ask for the grace and then have the courage and discipline to use it.

This should be one resolution we never give up. If we do, the cost will be too high.

Father Charles Ravert serves as pastor of St. Ambrose Parish in Philadelphia.