Ongoing Conversion
By Father Kenneth Wasilewski
At the beginning of a New Year, it’s common to make some sort of resolution. While these may  vary in intensity, focus and practicality (not to mention duration), the practice of trying to improve something about ourselves and the way we live, fits nicely with the Christian concept of “conversion.” 
Conversion is simply that ongoing effort we each are (or should be) engaged in to better respond to God, to turn away from harmful or sinful things, and to move toward ever deeper intimacy with Him. For many people conversion isn’t so much about doing a complete 180-degree shift, as much as it is about a reorientation or realignment in our spiritual lives. Sometimes these can be ever so slight and yet have profound benefits. It might end up being more along the lines of tuning an instrument, rather than a complete change to something new or different. 
And even though the season of Lent tends to be a natural time to focus on these things, it is certainly something that can (and should) be a part of our entire year — not just during a liturgical season. 
The reasons for this are simple. To begin with, none of us knows how long we will be here, or how much time we’ll have to work on improving our relationship with God and others. When we’re personally called home to the Lord, whatever virtue we’ve built in our lives, whatever love we’ve shown, whatever work we’ve done for the Lord, whatever graces we’ve been receptive to, all of these things will tell the story of the person we’ve become — how we have, or have not, responded to the Lord and used what He gave us. 
It can be sobering to think about. 
Unfortunately, sometimes these thoughts can awake in us fear, rather than resolve. If that’s the case for us, then perhaps we’ve already been given an area of our lives that can use some of our attention — moving away from a sense of fear as a motivating force toward a resolve born of love and gratitude to God. Choosing to serve God out of love and gratitude will always move us closer to Him more than serving Him out of the fear of the consequences if we don’t.
Recently, I was personally reminded of that need to always be about the work of ongoing conversion and the fact that none of us really knows how long we have to work on our relationship with God in this life. 
Deacon Frank Zammuto of Rockford, a deacon that I had the privilege and honor to know before he was ordained and to serve alongside at times after his ordination, died suddenly on Jan. 6 this year. I mention it not because of the unexpected nature of his death, but rather because of the constant effort I saw in him to continue growing in virtue and growing closer to the Lord. 
Each of us hopefully have those examples of people whose kindness, generosity, sincerity and deep faith cannot be hidden, but which show up in their daily lives without extra effort — simply because the virtues they’ve acquired are real and the natural consequences of the choices they’ve made. 
Heeding that call to continual conversion, so as to be more and more in tune with Jesus, is one that people like this respond to daily and don’t put off. As a result, when people encounter such a person (and Deacon Frank was certainly one), they can’t help but encounter a goodness which is obvious and authentic, a goodness which might also be called holiness. 
This has a unique and very powerful way of encouraging us to be better people ourselves, people who can become ever more determined to enter more fully into our own process of ongoing conversion. And it can happen simply by being in their presence, even if the word “conversion” is never spoken aloud.