The Conversion Cycle
In Prayer Dynamics 
Program Design

by John Veltri, S.J. from
Orientations, Volume 2 Part B


Paul's Conversion Experience

Patterns Of Experience During A Lifetime

During The First Week Of The Exercises

The Pattern Within A Single Prayer Period

Dynamic Model Of The Conversion Process

Practical Applications Of The Conversion Cycle


          As with most words we use to describe religious experiences, conversion is a word that can be imaged in many different ways. Some people image conversion as a profound awareness of God's presence which sets one on a new path of life; others image a profound sin-forgiveness experience; others image a startling event like the one which happened to Paul on the road to Damascus; others image a gradual redirection of one's life. Many use the word conversion for any profound redirection of one's consciousness. In this chapter, I include all these different ways. I understand that the maturing Christian adult on the spiritual journey becomes more integrated through many kinds of conversion. For such a person, the result of any type of conversion, whether on a religious, moral, affective, intellectual, or social level, is to expand one's horizon.

          The essential component of the many aspects of a Christian's conversion experiences is the freely-made decisions affecting one's life in Christ Jesus. Accompanying these decisions are shifts in a person's heart and consciousness. As an example of this, we can consider Peter's interior experiences. Like ourselves, he experienced different kinds of religious experiences from his initial attraction to Jesus, through an awareness of his own creaturehood and sinfulness, through a deeper insight into the mystery of Jesus' mission. 

          Was Peter "converted" when he first met Jesus (Jn 1)? Or was he converted when he had the profound sin-call-creaturehood experience (Lk 5)? Or was it during that event when he was given profound insight (Mt 16:16)? Or was it when he experienced Jesus' forgiving love (Jn 21)?  was it at Pentecost (Acts 2)? All these religious experiences have some connection with Peter's ongoing conversion toward deeper union with God and greater openness to the world. They were all conversions, producing a new horizon at different levels of his consciousness. Many of these individual events in Peter's life represent shifts in his consciousness and prepared him in different ways for the decision to surrender his worldview. In the midst of his ministry, he was converted to a new horizon, very different from the one that had carried him for so many years. By the end of his spiritual journey, Peter was called to surrender his image of creation (Acts 10), his image of how God acts in the world, and his image of God. Peter finally came to accept that God's Spirit could come to the Gentiles first, even before his Jewish sisters and brothers.

          As with Peter, our own different religious experiences -- experiences of acceptance, forgiveness, call, creaturehood, surrender, discipleship -- are also conversions in themselves and movements toward our more ultimate conversion. The movement along the spiritual journey is a movement through cycles of conversion. We need to be converted on many different levels of our consciousness. What is fundamental is not the phenomena of how the conversion takes place, but rather the interior decision made in freedom towards life in general or towards God. This decision may take place in more subtle, less dramatic ways, but nevertheless, it is a `metanoia'-- a change of heart, a fundamental change of a an attitude toward life, a new way of being, a re-birth. 

          Usually, external events and the interior or subjective experiences accompanying them are like catalysts in the conversion process. The subjective or interior movements, which we call the "phenomena of the conversion experience," often motivate the decisions that are made as a result of the conversion process. At times, these interior movements are more subtle and less clearly perceived. At times, these interior movements may not be present at all. When they are evident, they are often discernible according to a more or less generalized pattern which occurs at different times during a person's life. 

          Although the phenomena of the conversion experience are secondary, the understanding of their underlying patterns can be a helpful instrument in spiritual guidance. The pattern of the phenomena, underlying a dramatic conversion such as that of Paul, or underlying other types of conversion experiences one encounters on the spiritual journey, can be used to understand what is common in the phenomena of spiritual movements in general. In every experience of conversion, whether a dramatic event or whether an ongoing process, there are some common elements. These elements can be brought together as a point in time { · } or they can be strung out as series of points along a line { · · · · · · }. This is so because the elements of the conversion experience are organic with one aspect merging into the other aspect like a seedling that becomes a stem, which develops a branch, which begins to develop a bud, that opens into a leaf. One aspect merges into another over a period of time until the seedling has turned into a large tree. The oak tree is present in the acorn and the acorn in the oak tree. 

          The generalized organic pattern of the conversion experience is somewhat predictable. As a result, the movements contained within "typical" conversion experiences can be used as a model to understand, to interpret and to judge the experiences that a prayer guide hears in many spiritual direction settings. In addition, there are many other practical applications of this model which are explored later in this chapter. 

          With this in mind, let us take four different conversion-type experiences: 1) the experience of Paul; 2) the typical experience of a person during a lifetime of prayer; 3) the typical experience of a directee moving through the First Week; 4) the experience of a person during one prayer period.

Paul's Conversion Experience

          Paul is on the road to Damascus and is overcome by a revelation of the risen Lord Jesus. What happens in this unique event can be understood by noting various aspects of the story of this experience and by considering how Paul later reflects upon his own experience.
Acts 9:3-4 Suddenly a light from the sky flashed around him. Paul fell to the ground....
Notice here the experience of helplessness. His blindness is a further confirmation of the helpless state in which he finds himself -- and this is an experience of a person who is fanatically certain of his cause, who with the strength of his Hebrew background and Roman citizenship knows most certainly what he is about, a proud person who has status among his own people. When he is reflecting later on this experience, he recognizes that ...


Ph 3:5ff All this is garbage, so that I may gain Christ.
In other words, this experience places his whole past in a new perspective.


Rom 7:14ff I am a mortal man, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do; for I don't do what I would like to do....
Driven as he was by an almost blind fanaticism, he interprets all his past efforts at persecuting the church as "doing what he did not want to do." Definitely he refers to this one moment as seeing himself a sinner for he says:


Eph 2:2-5 Actually all of us were like them and lived according to our natural desires, doing whatever suited the wishes of our own bodies and minds....
He identifies his past as "living according to natural desires." Elsewhere, he suggests this even more starkly:


1 Tim 1:15  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the worst of them. But God was merciful to me....
Paul receives the enlightenment of his condition as sinner who is caught in a web of his own self-deceit, pride and blindness. He receives also an experience of God's forgiving love which he experiences as power, freeing him from a kind of addiction or bondage and calling him in a different way to serve Jesus.


Gal 1:14-24 But God, through grace, chose me even before I was born, and called me ... God decided to reveal God's Son to me so that I might preach the good news....
Within this event, Paul receives, as well, a personal relationship with Jesus.


Ph 3:10 ff All I want is to know Christ Jesus and the power flowing from his resurrection, to share in his sufferings and become like him ... I keep striving for the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself.
The relationship is now experiential. In addition, the change that Paul experiences is also a shift in his consciousness, influencing his decisions to handle reality in different ways. In a sense, in that one experiential moment, his consciousness shifts from the programmatic type of personality to the pneumatic type of personality1 -- from a religion based on law and order to one based on a personal love relationship. Through this conversion, Paul comes to make his decisions in a new way -- living and thinking according to Christ's Spirit. 
    When we reflect on the different aspects of this one major event in Paul's life, we can think of this event as a series of hypothetical moments of experience. In doing this, we are not trying to say that the actual event happened this way. But we are suggesting that these units do represent the many aspects of this one event of conversion:
a) Overcome by helplessness;
b) Enlightenment concerning his condition as sinner (with a deep awareness of his own pride, self-deceit, persecution of others, his own self-righteousness);
c) Experience of being freed from bondage whether through a new way of thinking or forgiveness or healing; 
d) A new way of relating to Jesus;
e) A new way of being religious, from loving the law to loving the person to whom the law points; 
f) Desire to respond in loving service;
g) The decision to do so.

*    *    *

          We usually think that most of these perspectives came to Paul in one flashpoint on that road to Damascus. We forget how a long sojourn in the desert following this event was related to the development of his conversion. Besides the occasional "peak" converting experiences of life, we have many other conversions on our journey with and toward God.2

Patterns Of Experience During A Lifetime

          We can notice a similar pattern in prayer and life experiences over a longer period of time. When we first begin to lead a prayerful life and allow God to touch our heart, the sense of God's presence is experienced. God communicates personally and "speaks" to our heart. This felt presence of God, usually accompanied by a sense of love or wonder or mystery, is Consolation.

          As we continue to pray faithfully over some months or years, this prayer begins to dry up. Aridity is experienced; the felt presence of God disappears. Sometimes the reason for this is that we are distancing ourselves from God's Spirit, resisting a further call or challenge. Perhaps God's word is penetrating a deeper level of our psyche which resists the surfacing of some less-than-conscious emotions or memories. Distractions come. Uneasiness takes over. Temptations to give up the practice of praying emerge, and often we experience a lack of hope -- Desolation.

          If we continue to remain faithful to prayer and to this experience by expressing our real feelings to God, in time this Desolation is recognized as being a kind of helplessness or darkness through which we are being called to depend more deeply on God's initiatives. By continuing in trust and faith even when all the sweet sense of God's presence is gone, we are led, sooner or later, to a kind of enlightenment by God about our condition. In a loving way, God reveals the attachment or the self-centred desire for control in our life, or whatever has been blocking our openness to God's initiatives. 

          What happens when such an enlightenment comes? We will likely experience a certain freedom from our bondage. It may be that we will finally be confronted by our own complicity with evil. It may be that the effects of some evil (e.g., violence, abuse, some form of being discounted, etc.) have been allowed to dominate our life. In time, we come to recognize how our love has been self-centred. This painful, yet hopeful sadness, is Consolation.

          Therefore, when we pay attention to our own spiritual experiences over the larger sweeps of our life, as well as those of other persons of faith, we can observe a pattern of conversion similar to the pattern experienced by Paul.

During The First Week Of The Exercises

          Let us now attempt a description of a hypothetical directee during the time of the First Week.3 Having come from a personal, warm, affirming encounter with God, he begins to discover that his prayer is drying up. He is distancing himself from something which he hardly recognizes. His prayer is not as easy as it was. He begins to talk about the fact that nothing is happening in prayer. As interview by interview progresses, he seems to be moving into a position of doubting his former experiences [315], [317]. He experiences turmoil leading to despair and a sense of being helpless. This experience is expressed graphically in the composition of the First Exercise [47]. There is a sense of not knowing where to go or what to do, and there is a sense of confusion while at the same time not perceiving its significance. Then some memory begins to surface -- a memory of some event, large or small, but nevertheless something which he perceives as a bad thing or evil. His confusion begins to surface into some more understandable focus like shame.4 Its meaning begins to emerge as he is surrounded by that shame and confusion of the Grace of the First Exercise.

          Gently the director encourages [7] him to stay with the desolate condition because she perceives it to be moving toward the Consolation of the Second Exercise as confusion gives way to sorrow. She also encourages him to dialogue with Jesus on the cross [53] and to wait for Jesus' saving activity. For the directee, darkness alternates with light as he perceives the experience to be unpleasant, yet meaningful at the same time. There is also a beginning of hope. Meanwhile, the director proposes the Third Exercise with its Triple Colloquy. At first, nothing seems to emerge out of this Third Exercise and yet, in hope and expectation, the directee keeps repeating it, asking, begging for the kind of enlightenment that he needs in order to be relieved from this condition.

          Meanwhile, there is a growing sense of sorrow and perhaps tears. Then something happens. The directee is given a profound sense of sin while at the same time he is given a profound sense of being forgiven and somewhat freed. At this moment, the directee "sees into" his condition in a way that is far beyond the work and prayer that he has been doing [330], [336]. Now he experiences his sin, and, at one and the same time, he experiences Jesus as saviour or lover, and, at the same time, he is given an insight into the depths of his sin. This phenomenon is often accompanied by a word which organizes for the directee a way of understanding and accepting the mystery of evil with which he has been struggling in such a helpless manner. Through this word, somehow the directee is able to accept his life as being so fully affected by sin -- almost like a hidden web of deceit that has touched everything, even the good choices in his life. This word -- be it a word like selfishness, or pride, or self-centredness, or seduction, or resentment, or whatever -- carries far more meaning for him than it sounds to someone not attuned to this experience. Something else happens too! At this moment, the directee perceives that though this sinfulness or disorder has been hidden somewhat from his consciousness, he has still been a conspirator in this evil. In this moment of enlightenment, he experiences that he is to blame and that, if it were not for the loving grace of Jesus which he is NOW experiencing, this same fault, would, by its own inertia, have its consequences in hell [65]. This, then, is a "typical" experience of a directee in the Call Mode as he moves through the First Week. We can visualize this dynamic as a wave-like movement in the diagram on the next page. 

          The difficulty with this, as with most models, is that it represents the dynamic too smoothly. Nevertheless, this process does take place more often than one would expect theoretically without having directed many people through the Exercises journey. Sometimes, directees will receive the graces of the First Week less thematically than suggested in the following model. In those situations, the fruit of the First Week is received in a more confused way and yet with a very deep sense of freedom. Even though in practice it is helpful to use other models (consult Chapter Seven), this model continues to be the one experienced often enough by directees to serve as a basic way of understanding the spiritual movements of the First Week. In addition, this model is helpful for understanding spiritual movements in general. 

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Figure 18: Dynamic Model Of First-Week Experience

          Throughout the Exercises journey, a similar cycle to this tends to keep repeating itself. God calls, one resists, one gets confused, one becomes helpless, then one asks for help. Finally one is given deeper understanding or "sees" something in a new way, and then one relates to Jesus in a a deeper way.

The Pattern Within A Single Prayer Period

        Throughout one's whole life as a Christian, the cyclical pattern keeps repeating itself. There are many conversions and mini-conversions. It is a repetition of the paschal mystery of dying and rising in Christ. You can discover these same elements that we have been noting even in one prayer experience, though in a less dramatic way. I remember being at a group prayer experience where the following took place:

My Experience 

Moments Of  Conversion
As a group, we sang a song and then someone read the passage of scripture concerning Jesus feeding a multitude. I went into the prayer session with the group. Eagerly and comfortably, I placed myself in God's presence. I relaxed and let go of the tensions of the day. After the passage was read and the silence of the group became comfortable, some of the people began to pray aloud. Several asked God for help to make up for the inadequacies that they experienced. . . .
. . . I suppose the few  loaves and two fish reminded them of this lack. In different ways, they asked that Jesus might be Lord of their lives and make up for their personal inadequacies. I began to experience uneasiness. . . . 
moving to
. . . I thought to myself, "Look at them! It's the in-thing for pious people today to express their poverty and call upon God to do all the work!" I was put out and uneasy. I felt that the others were phoney. . .
moving to
. . . But still I continued to let the word of scripture do something for me. . . .
. . . Then it dawned on me how different I am from others in that I approach life and work from a sense of adequacy! At that moment, I imagined Jesus telling me, "But your problem is that you are inadequate and you don't know it!
. . . Many times I have worked through you and in spite of you. You have only a few loaves and a couple of fish!" ... Then I experienced Jesus' presence more deeply and lovingly.....
Forgiving love 
and peace
I was given the desire to call upon Jesus more often so that he might indeed be Lord of my life and that his Spirit always be my guide. 
Called to serve 
in a new way

Dynamic Model Of The Conversion Process

    By considering these four illustrations and by reflecting on segments of our own personal faith journey, we observe a common pattern of the phenomena accompanying the conversion process. So here we can make a summary of this pattern into four experiential moments. Together and in their appropriate order, they form a valuable dynamic model5 of the conversion process:
1. The first movement in the Conversion Cycle deals in some way with settling into the awareness of God's presence. In this movement, we can situate those preliminary moments associated with presence: God's desire to communicate, God's care for us personally, God's closeness, God's acceptance, etc. We can summarize all these with a heading such as Rediscovering God's Love.
2. The second major movement in the Conversion Cycle is from aridity through helplessness. Here we can situate those experiential moments that usually emerge out of the first movement and are manifested in different kinds of struggle and helplessness -- felt need for healing, felt need for forgiveness, felt need for freedom from blindness. Here are those moments in prayer and life associated with the experiences of resistance which is part of the Conversion Cycle. We can summarize these with a heading such as Entering Our Brokenness/Resistance.
3. The third major movement in the Conversion Cycle is from unfreedom to enlightenment. When God is allowed to enter into one's brokenness or emerging resistance, there surfaces a need to face or surrender some aspect of life to which one clings. Is it a challenge that one does not want to hear? Is it time to embrace one's brokenness? Is it a memory of the past that one wishes to forget? Is it the call to accept a mission which involves the cross? Is it a call to grieve the death of a loved one? We can summarize these experiences with a heading such as Paradox -- the movement here is usually a paradoxical invitation to die to oneself. 
4. The fourth major movement in the Conversion Cycle is from reorientation to greater harmony. From the freeing experiences of the first three moments, there emerges an openness to the future -- a new way of viewing some aspect of life, a decision regarding one's discipleship, a sense of joyful trust. Even though this may involve the cross of implementation, one is often left, by the end of the Conversion Cycle, with a greater trust in the presence of Jesus' Spirit. A heading that gathers together such themes could be Reorientation/Greater Harmony.6

Practical Applications Of The Conversion Cycle

    Although conversion is the work of grace, we can help dispose others to receive this gift. We can prepare the soil through tilling, watering, and weeding, but the seed of the word comes from the Divine Sower. We do what we can to allow the seed to take root and grow. We cannot give authentic religious experiences to others, but we can use and develop contexts to help others become more open to receive God's grace. If we respect the typical pattern of conversion, we can develop processes that harmonize with it. The Conversion Cycle provides us with a dynamic model or framework that can be used in several ways:
1. To design thematic patterns for group processes involved in guided retreats and prayer workshops -- ongoing spiritual direction, retreat conferences, directed retreats such as the Week Of Directed Prayer In A Church Setting,7 educational seminars in local congregations, etc. 
2. To design prayer patterns to propose appropriate scripture texts for a directee's prayer. 
3. To design these prayer patterns according to different themes or seasons of the year.
4. To recognize and interpret what is happening in the directee's prayer and faith experiences.8

          The table below indicates how you can use the "moments" of the Conversion Cycle to set up thematic prayer patterns for the variety of time frames and situations of #1 and #2 above. The different time frames and needs of the groups or directees you encounter will determine the number of moments and choice of themes in your prayer pattern. The moments can be stretched or collapsed like an accordion or an elastic band and still follow the dynamic of the Conversion Cycle. To give you an idea how to use the table, two of the columns have been filled out. The exercise below the table will help you to complete the remaining columns. Another exercise will show how to use the table to create scriptural prayer patterns.

Half-Day Column

          Imagine a half-day guided prayer program, beginning with an input presentation, followed by private meditative scriptural prayer, and then, by sharing of prayer experiences. In such a design for a few hours, you would have time for two sessions at most. So the table suggests that you first use the moment of Rediscovering God's Love and then some aspect of the moment of Paradox. Under each category are examples of scripture texts which indicate the kinds of themes you might choose.

          If this half-day were part of the Easter Season, the scripture texts used should harmonize with both the two themes above and Easter. For example, Jesus' appearance to Mary Magdalene (Jn 20:11-17) could easily be associated with the theme, Rediscovering God's Love. For the theme, Paradox, the Emmaus story (Lk 24:13-35) or Jesus' threefold forgiveness and call of Peter (Jn 21:15-25) may be very fitting. The Emmaus story shows the paradoxes of glory found through suffering. The story of Peter's being forgiven shows some key paradoxes -- how God can love sinners, in weakness there is strength, God chooses the ordinary to do the extraordinary, etc. 

Figure 19:  Table Of Moments In The Conversion Cycle

Duration of Program/Process
Wknd Week
Rediscovering God's Love
       - God is with us always
             (Is 43:1-7)
       - God is gentle
              (John 20)



Entering Our Brokenness/Resistance
       - being bound
              (Rm 7:14-25)
       - need for healing
              (Mk 8:22-26)
       - repentance for sin
              (Lk 19:1-9)
       - being sinned against
              (Jn 8:1-11)


       - becoming free
              (Jn 11)
       - call
              (Lk 1:26-38)
       - discipleship
              (Lk 9:10-17)

Reorientation/Greater Harmony
      - being strengthened
              (Mt 17:1-8)
       - hope for the future
              (Jer 31:31)



Weekend (Wknd) Column

          Imagine a guided prayer program for a weekend held in a church building on Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 am through 5:30 pm, allowing a half-hour lunch break. The participants could bring a bag lunch on both days; they could have their own Sunday worship in the form of a closing ritual. Within this context, you might have time for five sessions, each with an input presentation followed by private meditative scriptural prayer and then, sharing of prayer experiences. After two sessions on Rediscovering God's Love, the table suggests you follow this with one session on Entering Our Brokenness/Resistance, then one session on Paradox, and then one on Reorientation/Harmony. Since this program is provided for people beginning to pray with the scriptures, the aspects to be chosen from the moment of Entering Our Brokenness/Resistance moment would be healing and being bound; usually they find healing issues less threatening to deal with than other aspects of brokenness. With a group that is used to scriptural prayer, you might focus on the other aspects of brokenness. 

Some material for your study, reflection, discussion .....
1. In order to understand the table, first complete the remaining columns.
a) For the column marked "Full Day," imagine a guided prayer program for a single day held in a church building on a Saturday, from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. Allow for a half-hour lunch break and a short closing ritual at the end of the day. Each session should have time for an input presentation followed by private meditative scriptural prayer, and then, sharing of their prayer experiences in small groups. In the above table, complete the column by marking the appropriate parts with an asterisk.
b) For the column marked "Week," imagine that you are preparing a prayer pattern for the Week Of Directed Prayer In A Church Setting. Imagine also that eight persons will be helping you for this event; among them are prayer companions and beginning prayer guides. Each will be guiding three or four persons for the week. They need a prayer pattern for six different sessions with enough choices so that they can quickly choose appropriate scripture texts during the interviews with their directees. In the above table, complete the column by marking six suitable parts.
c) Having done the above, you now have a table indicating the flow of moments in harmony with the Conversion Cycle for a variety of time frames. Notice how these moments can be expanded or contracted like an accordion. In what ways would the mechanical use of the above table destroy its intended outcome -- the flow of spiritual movements?
2. Now develop thematic prayer patterns in harmony with the sequence of the moments within the Conversion Cycle.
a) Create the prayer pattern for the situation described in 1 b) with basic scripture texts that prayer guides can use with beginning retreatants. Under each thematic category that makes up the prayer pattern, give several alternatives from which a prayer guide might choose. For each category, include one or two concrete scripture texts that prayer guides might easily suggest for Gospel Contemplation. Make the prayer pattern generic; that is, one that can be used during any season of the church calendar -- Christmas, Lent, Easter, etc.9 (If you would like some help, check the endnote.)
b) Create a prayer pattern of scripture texts for the Week of Directed Prayer In A Church Setting for the special season of Advent. Use scripture texts that are consistent with both the moments of the Conversion Cycle and that time of the church year. (Note that if you were to base the thematic categories of the prayer pattern according to those of the four weeks of the lectionary readings for Advent, you would not capture the dynamic of the Conversion Cycle!)

          The figure on the next page illustrates another way of representing the Four Moments of the Conversion Cycle and/or the cyclic rhythm of Consolation and Desolation.

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Figure 20: Four Moments In The Conversation Cycle


1.  John C. Haughey, S.J.,  The Conspiracy Of God (New York: Doubleday, 1973), Chapter 4, "Contemporary Spiritualities And the Spirit," p.96ff. 
     David G. Creamer, S.J., GUIDES FOR THE JOURNEY: John Macmurray, Bernard Lonergan, James Fowler (Lanham: University Press of America, Inc., 1996). Chapter 7, "Fowler's Faith Development Theory," explains what Fowler calls Stage 3 - Synthetic-Conventional (p.144). Many programmatic persons seem to be at this stage. Chapter 8, "A Summing Up," suggests how Lonergan's "conversions" and Fowler's "transitions" coincide with the different stages of faith development (p.182ff).  (return to text)

2.   Jacques Pasquier, "Experience and Conversion," The Way (April 1977), p.114ff.  (return to text)

3.  William A. Barry, S.J.,  "The Experience Of The First and Second Weeks of the Spiritual Exercises," Review for Religious, vol. 32 (1973), pp.102-109.  The description in this article, as well as my own here, is primarily a reflection on the generalized experience of the notation-[20] Exercises journey.   However, this model also illuminates the First-Week experience of directees in the notation-[19] journey. (return to text)

4.   This is not the toxic shame that comes from "the secret" which typically results from various forms of abuse.  Here the shame is one of embarrassment before love.  I am ashamed that I have been loved so much, and yet, my response has been so little!  (return to text)

5.   A more technical name for dynamic model is `heuristic structure.' The adjective `heuristic' is derived from a Greek word meaning "to discover." When we apply a dynamic model or heuristic structure to a portion of a person's inner journey, we have an instrument to help us understand and discover the meaning of that person's experience -- where it has come from and where it is going.   (return to text)

6.   This four-part structure with similar headings was originally suggested in 1989 by Elizabeth Cleary, C.S.B., as a useful framework for shorter directed retreats.   Later I realized the connection between this framework and the Conversion Cycle.   (return to text)

7.The Week Of Directed Prayer In A Church Setting is a way of making a directed retreat in the midst of daily living. It is such a simple structure that it can easily be used in a parish, school, university, or business office. Consult the Appendices of this manual for a description of this process. (return to text)

8.   A spiritual guide can use this cycle as a way of discovering the "next little step" a directee is likely to need in order to move forward with prayer. It helps in focusing the forward movement already taking place in the directee's subjective process.   (return to text)

9.   In order to help you with this exercise, you might want to use the following suggestions. Below are useful scripture texts for developing such a prayer pattern. You can rearrange them to set up your prayer pattern. You might want to put three or four choices under different thematic categories which harmonize with the dynamic and sequence of the moments/aspects of the Conversion Cycle. Following the list of scripture texts, I have placed, in random order, thematic categories which you might want to use for this exercise:
Ps 121 Look beyond the mountains; from where your help comes, from God who protects you.
Lk 10:38-42 Mary and Martha Story.
Ps 8 How marvellous are your works, O God.... Who are we that you should be mindful?
Jn 20:11-18 After the resurrection, Jesus appears to Mary.
Is 43:1-5 Be not afraid ... if you pass through the waters, you shall not be harmed.
Ps 103 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so surpassing is God's kindness.
Mt 23:37 Jesus weeps over Jerusalem.... How often have I yearned to gather your children.
Lk 19:1-10 Zacchaeus, the tax collector.
Jn 8:3-11  Jesus and the woman who was about to be stoned.
Rom 7:14-25;
Experience of helplessness ... "While we were still helpless Christ died for us."
Ps 23 God is both loving host and shepherd.
Jn 13:1-9, 12-17 Jesus washes the feet of the apostles. 
Lk 23:32-46 Jesus dies on the cross.... "I assure you this day you will be with me in paradise."
Ps 139:1-18 God fashioned me in my mother's womb; God's mystery surrounds me.
Eph 2:1-10 It is owing to God's favour that salvation is yours through faith.... it is God's gift.
Jn 21 Jesus appears to the disciples for the last time by the sea of Tiberius.
Lk 5:1-11 Jesus preaches from Peter's boat. 
Lk 1:26-55 An angel announces Jesus' conception and future birth to Mary.
Lk 24:13-35 Jesus appears to the disciples on the way to Emmaus.
Jn 20:19-23 Jesus appears to the disciples in the upper room and gives the Spirit.
Mt 3:13-4:11 Baptism and temptations of Jesus who manifests himself in consolation and weakness.
Lk 9:28-36, 43-45 Transfiguration and second prediction of the passion.
Mk 8:27-38;
Who do people say I am? ... First prophecy of the death and resurrection, with reprimand of Peter ... doctrine of the cross and call to share the passion.
Jn 19:17-34 Crucifixion.
Lk 9:23-62 Conditions of discipleship.
Rom 12:3-8 We are all part of Christ's body and each of us has one's role to play with humility and care.
Lk 2:1-20  Nativity and visit of the shepherds.
Titus 3:4-7 Gratuitousness of God's love.
Is 43:1-5 God is with us no matter what we must pass through.
Eph 2:1-22 By grace we have been saved; it is not our own doing. 
Jn 3:11-21 God so loved the world.
Ps 40 Now at last God stooped to me and heard my cry. 
Gal 4:1-7 When the time came, God sent God's son born of a woman.
Is 9:1-6  The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.
Lk 2:22-40 Jesus is brought by his parents to the temple to be presented to God. (return to text)

Thematic categories in random order for use in this exercise:

Deep awareness of our need for God.
Jesus desires to be our personal saviour.
Our need to face ourselves as we are and our incapacity to do this without God's help.
Jesus reminds us, "Take up your cross daily and follow me."
We need healing in many areas of our life.
God desires to communicate deeply with us.
Amazing grace -- without God's help, we are powerless.
God is with us through our life history. 
It is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born into eternal life (from the prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi).
Though we will always be sinners, God continues to forgive and help us.
How am I called to follow Jesus now in private life at home and in my public life at work?
Radical discipleship or cheap grace in the market place.
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  Go to Table Of Contents Of Orientations Volume 2