|Converted in a day,|
sanctified in a lifetime.
We have all heard it when confessing to diocesan Roman priests: "conversion" used in some vague, indeterminate sense. "Focus on that on-going process of conversion" or "keep that conversion going," as though the person in the confessional is not already a Catholic, just a sinful one. They like to draw out the conversion of St. Augustine, whose conversion was a process which spanned many years. What they neglect is that it ended with one definitive moment, when he was baptized on Pascha in 387. From then on he was a Catholic who, like us, sometimes sinned. There was no "on-going conversion," only what the West calls "Sanctification" and the East calls "Theosis."
Why do they do this, then? Why use "conversion" instead of the two perfectly suitable previous words? Have Confessors grown afraid of Sanctity? I hope not. Is it a "no true Scotsman" logical fallacy that circulates seminaries?—no true Catholic would sin. Is it the result of reading the Gather Hymnal too often ("We are pilgrims on a journey, We are travelers on the road....") and thinking that one is not really a Catholic until death, at which point one is likely to become at least a beatus?
I find this point confusing, not only because I think the context of Confession inappropriate for use of the word "conversion," but also because, unlike other modern oddities in the Church, his Traddiness has difficulty pinpointing the root of this trend.