3D ConversionBy Fr. Francis Ongkingco
Cebu Daily News
The word 3D is becoming part of almost every visual form of entertainment: in movies, video games, virtual tours, even music is played with 3D laser displays, and many more are sure to come with the unstoppable advances in technology.
Back in primary school the closest thing we could get our hands on 3D was playing with clay dough. I can still vividly remember the salty smell of a freshly opened pack of clay. We immediately put our imagination to work by rolling, cutting and squashing the clay into different shapes and sizes.
I found dinosaurs to be the most exciting creatures to create. Their awesome heads, nasty claws and fangs, long horns and wings! I ended up making them fight each other and they all ended lumped up into a shapeless mass of multi-colored clay.
Now, I’m completely amazed at the 3D images rendered by computer graphic programs. My clay dinos are no match to the lively and realistic animations of movies like Ice Age, Madagascar, Finding Nemo, and WALL-E… All of which are one relaxing visual joy ride for me.
Sometimes, however, there’s a catch to all this techreativity. As people indulge more and more into such fantastic visual forms of entertainment there is actaully a possibility of being less creative. Undoubtedly, such visual creations can initiate or stimulate one’s imagination to come up with even richer worlds. But, they can also render one satisfied with something already made-up for the senses without needing any effort to think or imagine.
This tendency to be uncreative can also happen in the spiritual life. Not in the same sense as animation movies, but how we enrich the daily unfolding of our spiritual life. Our supernatural life also has dimensions and if one fails to discover them his relationship with God and others will be flat or 2D.
St. Josemaría once said: “Most people have a plane-like vision, stuck to the earth, of two dimensions. When you live a supernatural life, God will give you the third dimension: height, and with it, perspective, weight and volume.” (The Way, no. 279) How exactly can we discover these dimensions?
Our Lord Himself invites us to a very attractive three-dimensional experience of conversion, somehow also 3D. Jesus does this by telling us a wonderful story (there are many others) which does not only move our soul, but also our imagination, emotion and heart. It is about the prodigal son.
In this parable, the first dimension is a common experience of every person: his sinfulness or the human failure. This is the most basic starting point of every conversion. We all have an experience of our sins in varying gravity, frequency and kinds. Even though this realization is good, one must be careful not to get stuck in this stage by falling into sentimentalism. It is, however, still a flat dimension since it can still be confined in mere human introspection or even a negative psychological accusation of one’s failure that is brought about by shame instead of genuine sorrow.
This is why Jesus takes the parable to a higher dimension: the awareness that by ourselves we cannot do anything. In this second level, our sorrow is concretizing by returning –as the prodigal son decided– to our Father God. Until one has really faced the Father, and expressed his sorrow personally, there is still the danger of pride and discouragement not to return home. But it is still something and God can still make use of it to gradually work our conversion. Thus, we find ourselves trudging reluctantly back to our Father God.
The meeting with the Father is a prelude of the person’s entrance into the third dimension. This is where the wonderful interlacing of the human and the divine happens. One’s sorrow, which was previously pondered alone, is now going to be expressed and will slowly work our conversion.
Moreover, the son has already resolved upon something: to return. And even though this human effort cannot by itself pardon his sins, it is reaffirmation of his desire to change. He is ready to lower himself to the condition of a slave, if only to be once again received by his Father.
This is the most important part of the meeting. The son does not come empty-handed only to say: ‘I’m sorry, dad. Please, forgive me. I’ll try to be a good boy next time.’ Rather, he appears before the Father already disposed to receive the grace of conversion. He also humbly realizes that only the Father (God) can forgive his sins. In other words, conversion achieves this third dimension when we are willing to materialize our sorrow and desires to change: ‘make me one of your hired servants.”
In our spiritual journey, however, this third dimension of conversion is and cannot be limited only to one’s conversion from sin. Conversion, which means a change of heart, can also be expressed in one’s joys and successes. We have to be simply spiritually creative to enrich every page of our life before God and others.
This is the most exciting part of the spiritual life: inventiveness! This is our chance to materialize our love for God. For example, we accompany our prayer of gratitude and joy by kissing a Crucifix. When we are happy due to success or when we hear some bad news, we immediately make a loving glance at the image of Mary or our favorite saint. We may express our thanksgiving either by visiting Jesus more in a chapel or if we have failed, to concretize and carry out a list of sacrifices that will then dispose our souls for a good confession.
This is possible if we become children who are in love. We always manage to find new ways of expressing our love in both the human and divine spheres and our daily conversions are sure to acquire three dimensions that become so entertaining to our Father God.
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