A first step in conversion is deciding to follow Christ. The Lord says, “follow me” because he wants to give you a new beginning. He made you. He wants you to be happy. Your decision to follow Christ marks a new beginning for you. This is called conversion. Saint Benedict can help us deepen our own personal conversion.
The saints decided to follow Christ in a deeper personal conversion before they were saints. Saint Benedict did this. Like college students today, Saint Benedict is studying in Rome. He realizes he is standing between the world of pleasure and the promises of Christ. In Rome, he had an all access pass to the best of everything. He could walk to the Circus Maximus (Nascar), the Colosseum (Super Bowl), or the Forum (Mall of America). Yet, Benedict’s biography says, “he found many of the students there abandoning themselves to vice…In his desire to please God alone, he…gave up home and inheritance and resolved to embrace the religious life.” (Dialogues, p. 1-2) Like so many heroic college students today, Saint Benedict made the decision to follow Christ.
Saying yes to Christ, means saying goodbye to worldliness no matter what vocation you are called to. This is part of conversion. You may question your decision. Friend groups, someone you are dating and even family may question your decision. You might hear them say, “you’ve changed.” Or, “I like the old you.” Saint Benedict can help you remember the decision to follow Christ is worth it. He faced similar judgments. What did he do? His biographer, St. Gregory the Great, writes:
“Benedict, however, preferred to suffer ill-treatment from the world rather than enjoy its praises. He wanted to spend himself laboring for God, not to be honored by the applause of men.” (Dialogues, p. 4)
If you choose God over the applause of the world, Jesus promises you a new beginning. Here are some ways you can strengthen your decision to follow Christ and deepen your personal conversion:
-Begin meditating 10-15 minutes each day, push for consistency
-Get to confession at least once a month, live free
-Sunday Mass of course, but daily Mass will take you places
-Find friends who support your decision to follow Christ
-Pray for your own conversion in Christ. Ask St. Benedict for help. Maybe his conversion experience can help you. Try this prayer:
Saint Benedict Prayer for Conversion
Jesus, good Lord,
consider my affliction and my trouble
and forgive me all my sins.
Hear, O Lord, do not cast me off or forsake me,
but lead me and help me to do your will,
so that my life may attest
what my heart and mouth confess so freely.
Hear the voice of my prayer, my King and my God,
by the merits and intercession of Saint Benedict.
-Prayer by Saint Anselm, Benedictine Monk