Personality and Conversion


Human personality may appear intransigent and unyielding to some perceptive and veteran observers. People simply don’t seem to change; their reactions and behavior throughout their lives are predictable.  Their unchanged behavior shows their unchanged hearts. But, is this true? Change for the better in the character and personality of individuals may be infrequent; but, it is not non-existent.

Examples of change in persons who became Christians are found in the pages of history.  Saint Augustine was sexually active during his youth with two mistresses that succeeded one another.  Allusion to his affair with the mother of his son, Adeodatus, is found in The Confessions.  His way of life seemed to be pretty well set; but, in his thirties, as recounted in Book 8, he became a Christian, baptized by Saint Ambrose in Milan.  During the remainder of his life he was a devoted Christian.  He repudiated his previous sexual behavior.

Augustine is only one example; but, he shows from his own testimony that change in the personality and character of a person is possible.  Conversion is not impossible.  The most unyielding personality can change and make great changes in his life.  Augustine went on to be ordained a priest and, then, a bishop and served as the ordinary of Hippo until his death.

The Confessions of Saint Augustine is an account of his life and conversion told before God Himself. The account is a testimony to the power of God to change a person’s life no matter how recalcitrant the individual is, and Augustine was recalcitrant.

The personality is converted and changed.  He conforms more to Jesus’ teachings and begins his departure from old sinful ways.  Not only for Augustine, but for many others, conversion to Christ has been the doorway to a transformed personality and way of life.  Final perfection can only occur in the kingdom of God; but, the pilgrimage begins in this life.

People do change, and some change in the direction of conformity to Christ.  No excuse of “I can’t change”  is acceptable in a Christian context. A renewed and transformed personality in Christ does not mean everything about a person will immediately improve; but, it does mean that the individual, though recognizable, will manifest himself as a different sort of human being in the process of being conformed completely to our Lord Jesus Christ.

I part with an apocryphal story about Evelyn Waugh, the great Catholic novelist and essayist.  When someone remonstrated that Evelyn Waugh, though a Catholic, had behaved badly, he responded,  “You have no idea how much nastier I would be if I was not a Catholic.  Without supernatural aid I would hardly be a human being.”


Michael Tavella

Ash Wednesday

February 14, 2024




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