Friday, January 9, 2009

Meditation on delaying our conversion by Fr. Jean Croiset


THAT WE OUGHT NOT to delay our Conversion

FIRST POINT. If we delay our conversion, we thereby put ourselves into an evident danger of being never converted.

SECOND POINT. If we delay our Conversion, we thereby put ourselves under a kind of necessity of being never converted.


Consider that there is no Christian who has not some time or other desired to turn sincerely to God; there are certain happy moments wherein by an inward light we discover on a sudden so many faults in creatures, we find so little solidity in everything on the earth, and are so disgusted with what seemed most charming, that we cannot avoid confessing that to neglect the service of God is the highest degree of madness.

Our reason is convinced but our passions are too strong, and we have not resolution enough to oppose them; therefore self-Love finds an expedient to flatter both; it satisfies our reason by persuading us to resolve on conversion, and pleases our sloth by engaging us to defer it and to retain our former habits, but here it apparently deceives us for this delay puts us into an evident danger of never being converted.

Time, grace, and a willing mind are necessary to conversion; if we put it off but for one day, how can we promise ourselves that one day? If we have that day, are we sure that we shall be more willing to improve it? And who hath told us that we shall then be assisted with a more efficacious grace than that which we have hitherto resisted?

Is anything more certain than time? How many have been surprised by death while they were deliberating? And would it not be a dismal thing to die full of designs for a future conversion?

We think it is not now a fit time to quit our dangerous conversations, to avoid the occasions of sin, to reform our lives and to live more retired and more like Christians: alas! What time would we have? We are for staying till the heat of youth is past, till age and experience have disabused us as to those trifles which take us up now, and then everything will contribute to our conversion.

Thus the greatest part of mankind argue about their projects of conversion, for no man pretends to die unconverted, but do they reason well? Do we find many of these resolvers converted before they die? We accept (says S. Augustine) their penance who defer their conversion to the end of their lives, but we make no great account of such conversions. No my brethren (adds that great saint) I dare not deceive you and therefore must declare that we make no great account of them.

We refuse to be converted now, what grounds have we to believe that we shall be more willing hereafter? If we find difficulties now, we shall meet with greater than they increase with our passions, which will then be stronger and instead of youthful amusements which take up our time now, we shall then find that multitude of business will be a greater hindrance. Do not flatter yourselves that you may be converted at any time; who has told you that you shall at all times be capable of conversion? If we refuse to be converted when God invites us now when our ill habits are but weak and few, can we reasonably expect to be able to do it hereafter, when they are multiplied and grown inveterate? God will be weary of waiting; his solicitations will dimish as our resistance of his grace increases; so that we are forced to own that we run the greatest hazard in the world by delaying, and yet we are not afraid to venture.

Was it ever heard that a condemned malefactor was unwilling to receive his pardon, and desired it might be deferred to another time? God offers us his friendship, he tenders his pardon to us, and we are unwilling to have it yet; we desire him to stay till we are in humor to receive it. He solicits us and we bid him keep his love for another time; would we treat the last of men thus, and how should we resent this usage ourselves?

Every man promises himself time for conversion if Jesus-Christ had promised us with an oath that we should have notice of his coming, we could not live in greater security than we do, though we know that he hath sworn the direct contrary.

Did every any merchant when he had found an opportunity of recovering all his losses put it off to another time? And defer the securing his fortune till the next day? Would not we think a man distracted who being dangerously sick and should desire his physician not to visit him till five or six day hence?

Am not I with all my pretensions to wisdom this distracted man, when I delay my conversion one day? I am out of favor with God, my soul is dangerously ill, the most efficacious remedies do me no good, my sickness increases, God solicits and beseeches me to be cured, he desires only my consent, and I refuse his offer.

Has not the Son of God prevented all our excuses and all our false pretences by declaring that he will come when we are not aware of him? This is not only the counsel of a wise and knowing friend, it is the decision of the Lord of life and death who knows the time in which he designs to call us. Let our designs and projects be never so well laid, death will come when we least expect it.

Did we ever see a man die, were we ever dangerously ill ourselves without resolving to turn to God? And yet we are still unconverted. Our last sickness will put us on the same resolutions, but how can we be sure they will be more sincere than the former, and why should we think that God will accept them?

Men tremble when they find themselves in danger of losing their lives or estates; is it nothing to lose our souls by remaining unconverted? If the loss of a soul be so small a matter why did Jesus Christ do and suffer so much to redeem it?

My God! Thou desirest not the death of a sinner, thou desirest his conversion; so that it is my own fault if I be not converted. Am I unwilling? And how can I pretend to be willing if I put it off from day to day?

One would think it were a great misfortune to be wholly thine, since men give themselves to thee, as late as they can; I am terrified by other dangers, is not this of being lost forever a much greater danger?

It is resolved O my God! It is resolved, I will defer no longer; but though I am willing; it is thou alone that must convert me; Do it and then I shall be truly converted.


Consider that by deferring our conversion we are not only in danger, but under a kind of necessity, of never being converted; when the Scripture exhorts us to seek God while he may be found, it teaches us there is a time when he will not be found; what then must a man expect whom God hath sought in vain several years together and who has been insensible to all his Goodness?

Do we think ourselves too young to be devout, and that we ought to stay till we are older, and then be converted? This is as much as to say that we have not sufficiently offended God, that when we have abused his goodness more and driven our ingratitude as far as we can, we will then begin to serve him. Will he accept of our service then? Tis true; God will never refuse a sinner that is really converted, but the difficulty lies in being converted; seeing we will not be converted now when God desires it, can we be sure of doing it when we shall have all the reason in the world to doubt whether he continues to desire it.

Could the Apostles reasonably expect a second call from Christ to leave all and follow him, if they had delayed till next day to obey the first? Could they expect to have more courage next day? They who were invited to the supper in the Gospel were but twice invited and excused themselves but once upon very plausible pretences, which were yet sufficient to exclude them forever from the feast and to seal their reprobation.

The difficulties and obstacles we meet with now, and which we pretend are already invincible will augment in number and force every day; we say we cannot be converted now, we shall be less able hereafter; the spiritual helps of reading and meditating on the great truths of the gospel, the counsels of a wise director, the frequentation of the Sacraments have no effect on us now: upon what then do we build our hopes of conversion? We would not yield at first when we were touched with those truths, much less than we yield ourselves when we are grown insensible.

We accustom ourselves to everything in time, the best advice and the most terrible truths, will make no impression on our affections and less on our hearts; like those who are continually about dying people we shall by degrees loose all sense of what terrified us at first. By frequent slighting the thoughts of hell, we shall become little afraid of it; do we expect to be disabused then? Alas! We are already convinced of our danger; for why do we intend to turn to God at last, if we be not persuaded that we are in a dangerous state?

Suppose a longer experience should make us see our error, and wean us from the false pleasure, and the false liberty of the world, so that we cease to esteem them, we thall still retain them out of custom, interest, obstinacy, or inclination. Though we glory no longer in being libertines, in following the maxims of the world and in not being devout we shall insensibly continue so because we are used to it; unless we are absolutely resolved to be deceived, we cannot propose to ourselves to overcome so many multiplied obstacles all at once; when with a greater assistance of grace than we can expect, and with less guilt we have not courage to enough to conquer one single sin.

We persuade ourselves that at the hour of death, the sense of approaching danger will make us turn to God; but how can we rely upon a conversion to which we are excited only by the presence of death, and which must therefore infallibly be the effect of fear?

And for a clear proof that those conversions are seldom sincere how many have we seen truly converted after a great sickness? Besides it is an article of our Faith that the Son of Man will come at an hour when he is least expected, so that although the death of the greatest part of mankind be not sudden yet it is unforeseen; and Jesus Christ hath declared with an oath that he will be inflexible to all the prayers of those who expect their last hour to turn to him, so that we must either believe the Son of God mistaken, or that he had a design to deceive us, or we must believe that the sinner who defers his repentance to a death bed will die impenitent.

Our Savior does not say that we shall continue obstinate to the last, that we shall not beg him to forgive us, or that we shall not have time, but I foretell you (says he) that you shall die as you have lived.

But we must always hope; true but that is no Christian hope which is contrary to our Faith.

The merits of our Redeemer might indeed save us, if his word and his Gospel had not already condemned us.

Can we imagine that the great work of eternal salvation which is the work of our whole lives, and for which Christ himself judged no less time necessary, can be done in a few hours? That it can be done well in those last moments? After all this: can we believe that when we have delayed it from one day to another, we may easily do it not withstanding we put ourselves under a kind of necessity of not doing it al all?

Where eternity is concerned we ought to hope only on solid grounds; the only foundation of hope is the word of God, and yet we hope against this express word.

How long hath God solicited us to be converted? And yet how long do we continue to resist his grace?

If we had no other motives that the assurance that Grace is offered us, that God is ready to receive us, that we may be this very moment if we will in the condition we shall wish for, when we come to die the want of which will then drive us to despair; do we need any other to make us resolve?

Would a damned soul delay one moment if he had any time, and the means of conversion that I have? Those wretched souls were once what I am, have not I reason to fear that I shall be one day what they are? They deferred their conversion and are damned for it, am not I in danger of being damned for the same delay?

‘Tis strange that we can put off our conversion to the last; that is, to do the most important and difficult work in the world: we wait for a season wherein we shall be wholly incapable of anything; wherein a man would be though mad or at least imprudent that should talk to us of business. Is a sick or dying man in a condition to talk of business? And yet it is to this time which we ourselves acknowledge to very unfit for the most trivial affaires, that we defer the greatest business in the world, the business of salvation, and eternity.

How can we think of being converted one day and yet defer it though but to the next day? The design of being converted implies that we believe our souls in danger, that we are sensible of want of Love of God, that we do not serve him faithfully. That we are out of his favor, and that we dare not die in the state in which we live. He who defers his conversion willfully lives in a continual danger, by which so many perish everyday, he refuses to love God, and is content to be out of favor with him; he resolves to live in a state wherein he is afraid to die, and this after serious reflection, and after several designs to change his life; he resolves to persist in enmity to God at the very time when God tenders him his Grace and presses him to accept his friendship. Can any Christian, can any rational man make his reflection and afterwards defer his conversion one moment.

Alas my Dear Savior! I am but too capable of doing this; these reflections and an hundred more will be to no purpose if thou dost not convert me; Oh! Do it for thy mercy’s sake; as this is the day wherein I resolve to be converted, so let it be the day of my perfect conversion.

Sacred and Immaculate Hearts

Sacred and Immaculate Hearts

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Pillar of Scourging of Our Lord JESUS

Pillar of Scourging of Our Lord JESUS

Shroud of Turin

Shroud of Turin