Metanoia is the original Greek term for ‘conversion’: Literally, a ‘turning around’ of one’s mind and heart from one point of view to another, in ways that are more or less fundamental. One may be converted from country music to classical, or, more importantly, and in the most direct meaning of the term, from a more aberrant religion to the one, true Faith. In that process, we undergo an aversio a creatura – a turning away from disordered attachment to created things – and a conversio ad Deum – turn towards the one, true God.
We have just moved on from the Christmas season, with the fictional Scrooge ‘turning around’ on a Dickensian Christmas morning, to the heartening, if all-too-little known, stories of ‘Jane Roe’ and Bernard Nathanson, of which I wrote a few days ago, to today’s Saul, persecutors of Christians extraordinaire, falling off his horse on that road to Damascus, blinded by the truth of Christ, realizing then and there that He really was – and is – the Way, the Truth and the Life. The stories of journeys to the Faith – all unique – warm the heart, and provide a bit of a comforting reminder to cradle Catholics that what we believe it all really is true. Sometimes, like a journey there and back again, we have to see familiar things from a different perspective.
Repent and believe in the Gospel, begins the evangelical account of Saint Mark: Metanoia. For only in the light of heaven and, for that matter, the potential dark self-enclosure of hell, does this transient existence make any sense at all. And it is that light that burst upon the zealous Pharisee, transforming the egotistic Saul into the humble Paul, the ‘little one’, the least amongst the Apostles, but who, by grace, did immeasurable work for God and His kingdom.