Conversatio morum is a Latin phrase often translated ‘conversion of life’ or ‘reformation of life’.
It is one of the three vows made by the Benedictine monk – the others being obedience and stability.
“Obedience is the first virtue of Christ. It is listening in love to someone else so that what they want seems to you more important than your own will – as Jesus prayed in Gethsemane. Stability is a promise to persevere in this particular community – it is a promise of loyalty. ‘Conversatio morum’ is often left untranslated since it is hard to find English words that are adequate. It is a vow to a continual change of heart, a daily reshaping of the mind and heart according to God’s plan for us “. (Ampleforth Abbey)
Oblates of St Benedict make the three promises as part of their self-offering to God, and strive, throughout their lives, to make it a part of their daily pilgrimage. Dom Laurence Freeman OSB writes:
“CONVERSION: Dramatic experiences of conversion may have their value but their meaning is in opening a new phase of life. This vow is a commitment to be always a pilgrim, living an ongoing conversion of one’s way of life by an ever-fuller harmony with the principles of peace, tolerance, selflessness and generosity and the courage to say the truth about injustice.” (Monastics in the World)
As an oblate I try to follow this path – and my choice of the title of this site reflects that. How effective my pilgrim efforts may be is another question!
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