The Conversion of Saint Paul – And of the Church

The Conversion of Saint Paul, Peter Paul Rubens, London, England

Today, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul,  we conclude the annual Week of Prayer for Church Unity.

The future of ecumenism – our quest for the full unity of the churches – is the future of our conversion as churches.

Let’s start with ecclesial humility.

I love the traditions of my church. I love its treasures of liturgy, music, spirituality, religious life, theological inquiry, and magisterial teaching authority.

But there will be no unity of the churches if there is not an ever-deeper conversion of all of us so that we love our churches with ever-greater humility, we are ever more honest about our weaknesses, and we are ever more grateful for the riches other traditions offer us.

In the tragedy-filled (and grace-filled) Reformation era, there were robust arguments about the “marks” of the “true church.” Surprise, surprise, everyone’s proposed list of such marks pretty much overlapped with the characteristics of their own church tradition.

Perhaps we should say that one of the marks of the true church is that it does not claim to be the true church.

Saint Paul, pray for us.




  1. I’m grateful for this reflection on ecumenism – and for the ecumenical content of PrayTell. It’s a challenging topic for me. I need to be challenged. I’m too comfortable with the status quo. So thank you!

  2. Sometimes….most times….I feel like a little yapping dog, barking along the outside of the fence, trying to get the attention of my mother, inside the fence, but since I have left the fenced area, I am just an outsider…..

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