On January 25th we’ll celebrate the Conversion of Saint Paul, a feast that highlights a dynamic that eventually takes place in the hearts of all believers. St. Paul was knocked off his proverbial horse as he literally saw the light. This conversion is famously celebrated in artwork—the dramatic Caravaggio comes to mind. Paul’s heart and mind were completely changed after Christ was revealed to him.
This may not seem normative in a context where children are baptized. Yet the Church is full of saints who were raised in the faith and later saw the light in new and genuine ways.
This was an emphasis of a young St. John Henry Newman who was raised in a staid and established ecclesial context. He later received the faith anew as an experience that transformed his heart and all of life. This is an emphasis that drove the Oxford Movement and eventually led him into the fullness of the Catholic Church. He later helped renew that same Catholic Church with ardent zeal.
If you long to have a deeper experience like this, consider that it may not begin with being knocked off the proverbial horse, but rather being put back on the horse. This was the experience of the Prophet Elijah who lay down in near despair before receiving encouragement from God. The revelation that reoriented him came not from a blinding light, but rather the “still, small voice.”
God reveals himself in our unique circumstances so we may live more fully according to the light of faith.