Luke 15:21

And the son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son."

The Prodigal Son is the image of the repentant sinner in Scripture.  It is tempting to talk at times of a "before" and "after" in conversion so as to represent baptism, not as grace, but as magic.  In such a false reckoning, we can fall into the trap of thinking that we don't sin anymore.  But the reality is that we do still sin.  Because of this, conversion is revealed to be an ongoing process, not a one-time shot.  To be sure, we are new creatures in baptism.  But the outworking of that new creation in our lives is a lifelong process.  And one of the Seven Streams of Grace by which that process is watered and kept alive is the sacrament of confession, where conversion continues and grows stronger.

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage