Covenant, Company & Conversion

from Spring 2019 Edition

By Fr. Emanuel Vasconcelos, OFM Conv.

Detail of painting by Fr. Joseph Dorniak, OFM Conv., at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Athol Springs, New York.

The liturgical seasons of Lent and Easter are a yearly invitation to deepen our relationship with God, with others, and with ourselves. Each year
we have an opportunity to look at three “C”s in our lives: covenant, company, and conversion.

The theme of covenant comes to mind since we have the chance to renew our baptismal promises in a very special way during Lent and Easter. We reflect on what makes us followers of Jesus, and how we are living out our faith in our day-to-day lives. In many parishes we are even inspired by other adults who are entering the process of being baptized or fully initiated into the Catholic Church at Easter. The various Scripture readings we hear proclaimed at Mass have a regular theme of God making a covenant with his people and keeping that covenant even when they are unfaithful. God’s love and mercy are a constant anchor in the midst of the passing things of this world.

We entered a covenant relationship with the Trinity at our Baptism. Through the Holy Spirit, we are able to call God our Father and Jesus Christ our Brother. The relationship we have with God is not static or simply formal but something dynamic and living. How is that relationship with God going for you? Are you open and honest with God in your prayer? Have you been tossed about by the waves in your life that you need to hold on to the anchor of God’s fidelity a little tighter? Thankfully our baptismal covenant relationship can be renewed each day, giving us the chance to deepen our commitment to the Lord.

…God’s love and mercy are a constant anchor in the midst of the passing things of this world.

During these liturgical seasons we can also reflect on the company we keep. My father would always say to me: “show me your friends, and I’ll show you your habits.” When reflecting on your company, focus on the type of person God is calling you to be and how the company in your life is either helping you or hindering you in that process. Certainly there is some company that is unavoidable (and we need to learn how to tolerate such people), but a good part of the company we keep is our choice. We have the ability to invite certain people in our life, and we also can distance ourselves from those we don’t want in our life or who are making it difficult for us to live out our call. That can be challenging to do, but nothing worthwhile ever is easy, is it?

Company can mean people, but it can also take various forms: we can reflect on the “company” and ideas we invite in our minds and in our hearts. Sometimes this is harder to face, because it is more internal and requires more honesty, humility, and courage on our part. As difficult as this internal reflection may be, remember that Jesus was able to make himself present among His apostles after His Resurrection even though they had locked the doors (see John 20:26). What parts of you are “locked” from others that you want Jesus to enter and heal? Know that He has the power to come into those spaces and bring His light and peace, if we let Him. The Sacraments of Penance and Eucharist are great ways in which we invite Jesus into those spaces.

Finally, Lent and Easter invite each of us to conversion. We know that the heart of Jesus’ message is to repent and change our ways. The Greek word used for “repent” is metanoia: a blend of the words meta – “beyond”, and nous “our mind”. Jesus is calling us to get past our own minds, our own worlds, and remember the greater picture. We are invited to be attentive to our world, to think of others’ needs, and to see how we can respond to our current circumstances.

I invite you to enter these days with a new set of eyes, to see things a bit differently in your life. Part of the reason the Church revisits liturgical seasons every year is to give us a chance to try something that we’re not used to doing, or to see the same things in our life with another year of experience behind us. How attentive can I be in my home, in my parish, in my place of work, in my neighborhood?

As we celebrate these great seasons of Lent and Easter, let’s take time to reflect on these three C’s: our covenant with God through our Baptism, our company to discern who helps us in this Christian journey and who is more of a challenge, and finally our own conversion as we move past the limits of our mind. †

About Friar Manny

Friar Emanuel Vasconcelos, OFM Conv. (also known as Friar Manny) serves as an associate pastor at St. Anne Catholic Church in Columbus, Georgia. A lifelong devotee of Saint Anthony (of Lisbon AND Padua), Friar Manny was ordained a priest in June of 2018. He completed studies at Providence College in Rhode Island and at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He enjoys music and singing, as well as Portuguese culture and offers weekly reflections on the Companions’ YouTube channel!


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