In his best-selling spiritual autobiography, The Seven Story Mountain, Thomas Merton describes the first step in his conversion process.
He had just graduated from high school, was traveling alone in Europe and was living a rather flashy life. One night, in his room, he was struck with an awareness of his sinfulness. He writes:
“The whole thing passed in a flash. . . . I was overwhelmed with a sudden and profound insight into the misery and corruption of my own soul. . . . I was filled with horror at what I saw . . . and my soul desired escape . . . from all this with an intensity and an urgency unlike anything I had ever known before.”
Merton goes on to say that for the first time in his life he prayed – really prayed. He prayed to the God he had never known to reach down from heaven and free him from the evil power that held his body and soul in slavery.
The story of Thomas Merton illustrates the kind of change of heart the younger son had in today’s gospel. When we turn away from sin and open our hearts to God, we experience conversion.
The following prayer calls us to conversion:
Voice of Jesus, call to us
when we stray too far from you.
Eyes of Jesus, smile upon us
when we need encouragement.
Hands of Jesus, anoint us
when we grow weak and weary.
Arms of Jesus, lift us up
when we stumble and fall.
Heart of Jesus,
help us love one another
as you have loved us.
Sincerely in Christ,