• Sarah Raad


“Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods.” (C.S. Lewis).

The Mustard Seed (Jen Norton)

I have been reading the story of the conversion of the French poet, dramatist and diplomat, Paul Claudel, who – after being nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature six times – died in 1955.

Claudel wrote very eloquently about his conversion to Catholicism. Prior to his conversion, Claudel considered Catholicism “a treasure of absurd anecdotes”. He ferociously hated both the priests and faithful alike. And then, on Christmas Day in 1886, a taxi dropped Claudel in front of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. Seeing the beautiful stained-glass windows and hearing the beautiful Christmas carols, Claudel decided to enter the Church out of curiosity.

Once he was inside, he describes the moment of his conversion, which occurred when standing amid the crowd outside the sacristy…

“In an instant, something touched my heart and I believed. I believed, with such force, with so much agitation in my being, with a conviction so strong, with so much certainty that there was no place for doubt. After this, all the books, all the reasoning, all the events of my complicated existence have been unable to shake my faith or, to be honest, touch it! Suddenly, I thought: ‘How happy are the people who believe! And what if it is true? But it is true! God exists, He is there! He is Someone! And He loves me! He calls to me.’ Tears and sobs came to me and the singing of the Adeste Fideles only increased my emotion.”

And instantly that man was converted…

I have been reflecting on this beautiful story of conversion because Claudel’s conversion is – in some ways – very similar to my own.

Granted, I had never considered Catholics as “absurd anecdotes”, but ironically, though I was born and raised as a Catholic, I had spent a lifetime behaving like an anecdote of Claudel’s description…

You see, an anecdote is a short and shallow story that is used to illustrate an example and make the job of the person communicating that example a little easier.

And that is exactly what I was. There I was – in my life before the instant of my conversion – following all the rules and understanding nothing at all, just like a good little robot… I attended Mass once a week at least. I received the sacrament of Reconciliation a few times a year. I said prayers with my children before they went to sleep at night and in the morning on their way to school. And that was it.

I stopped right there.

I did not know God. I did not love God. I did not want to know God. I did not want to love God. And I certainly did not want God.

Poor stupid me…

And then – right there, outside the glass sliding door at the back of my home as I was praying for my little niece who was so sick at that time and so desperately needed a miracle – I suddenly in an instant knew God, loved God and wanted God… All in an INSTANT!

And that is why I always say I had a conversion through GRACE and no merit of my own – because God found me, not the other way around! And how grateful I am for that!

The Christian author, C.S. Lewis, wrote, “Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods.”

And what I have come to realise in the months since my conversion, is that with FAITH there is no FEAR…

Because when God finds a soul – He never lets it go…

And I have such faith as could move mountains in that ability of my Beloved to find every single soul…

After all, He found mine, didn’t He?

For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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