Deep Conversion Deep Prayer Chapter Summaries

Chapter 1: Getting a Feel

“There are more people converted from mortal sin to grace, than there are religious converted from good to better” ~ St Bernard of Clairvaux

This fact should sadden us… why are we so resistant to conversion?

BUT… this fact should also inspire us… to go from bad to good, from good to better, and from better to best in our moral & spiritual development.

What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?” (Mt 16:26).

Chapter 2: The Radical Conversion

Be converted and accept the gospel” (Mk 1:15)

Jesus’ 1st recorded words in his official ministry sum it all up = deep, personal, radical change.

  • Be converted = renounce our omnipresent egocentrism… our pervasive egoism.
  • Accept the gospel = When people who love truth, goodness and beauty hear the gospel, they spontaneously love it and accept it. No man ever spoke like Jesus Christ.

“Truth is symphonic” ~ Hans Urs von Balthasar

Chapter 3: Degrees of Depth

Degrees of moral conversion:

  1. A rejection of mortal sin, a 180-degree reversal of a life that was knowing, free and willing rejection of God in favour of choosing something incompatible with Him.
  2. Person makes efforts to avoid small wrongs, willed venial sins.
  3. Loving God and neighbour without limit, giving oneself beyond the call of duty, going all the way with God, living like the saints lived. Chesterton called this lofty holiness “a revolution”.

A saint is “walking lovesick for God” ~ St. John of the Cross

Chinese intellectual John Wu was struck especially with this trait in Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, and he was moved to enter the Catholic Church because he saw that these highly desirable qualities cannot result from mere human ingenuity and strength. Wu concluded that the Church that could produce a Thérèse has to be his home of the divine on earth, for he found in this young woman ‘a living synthesis of such opposite extremes as humility and boldness, freedom and discipline, joy and suffering, duty and love, strength and tenderness, grace and nature, wisdom and folly, wealth and poverty, community and individualism.’ ” (Guy Gaucher, Sainte Thérèse de Lisieux aux extremities du monde, p. 25 in EPB, p. 252). ~ Dubay, T. (2006). Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer (pp. 38–39). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Chapter 4: Call to the Heights

The heights of holiness are for all of us, period.

Chapter 5: A Remarkable Resistance

We have a “remarkable resistance” to significant moral change in our lives.

Why don’t we give up our willed venial sins? Why don’t we choose to love God completely? Why don’t we give up our petty clingings?

This is original sin = the only sensible explanation for the pathetic situation we are in.

It is surely no exaggeration to say that if we lived 1 percent of what we hear and see and read in our splendid Catholic liturgies in a year or a month, we would be saints long ago ~ Fr. Thomas Dubay

For most people what they know has very little effect on how they live. Why? The reason obviously is that most love their pleasures in eating and drinking more than they value their real purposes: health and energy for working out our eternal destiny and aiding others to do the same.

Be converted, and accept the gospel” (Mk 1:15)

God’s help and grace are always present. We must use what He offers us… give up our self-centredness and love truth, goodness and beauty!

Chapter 6: Relevance and Motivation

“Sin obscures sight” ~ Hans Urs von Balthasar

Sin does obscure sight… badly and tragically.

Morally lukewarm people enjoy their mediocrity ~ St. Teresa of Avila

Motives for deep conversion:

(1) Happiness and Joy

  • You will be far happier and fulfilled in your state in life, and so will those with whom you deal.
  • “All who seek you, Lord, will dance for joy” (Midmorning prayer, Wednesday, week 3).  Holiness triggers inexpressible joy. If one doubts this, let him try it.

(2) Love

  • By it we prove real love and offer to one another a daily example of eternal impact. We love with an effectiveness that promotes the other’s eternal enthrallment as well as our own. This is real love, not in mere words, but in action.

(3) Ecumenical and Apostolic effectiveness

  • Saints are the most attractive people in the world.
  • Our effectiveness increases in proportion to our level of conversion.

(4) Deep Prayer

  • There is a mutual intercausality between deep conversion and deep prayer. They are not merely juxtaposed, one next to the other. Each one helps to bring about the other. The more we are rid of our egocentrisms the more we are opened to the divine infusions of love and intimacy. In the other direction a progressively deepening of prayer furthers our purification from venial sins.

(5) Preparation for eternal life

  • In everything we do in this life we are making ourselves the kind of persons we shall be for all eternity (there are degrees of our eternal enthrallment!!)
  • We also begin to see everything in the supernatural economy of salvation, the big picture!

(6) Never bored

  • People who are profoundly intimate with their indwelling Lord are never bored.

(7) Handle suffering

  • Holiness equips the person to handle suffering profitably and even happily.

(8) Builds up our communities

  • By taking this path, we are building up our primary community: marriage, priesthood, consecrated life.

“A saint is a homilist without saying a word” ~ Fr. Dubay

“It would be nonsensical to give up even one degree of endless delight for a thousand paltry pleasures in this life, here one moment and gone the next” ~ Fr. Dubay

Chapter 7: Conversion and Genuine Love

The gospel definition of love goes something like this: a self-sacrificing, willed concern for and giving to another, even if attraction and feeling are diminished or absent, and even if little or nothing is received in return—and all with divine motivation ~ Fr. Dubay

Some points about this deep gospel love:

  1. Deep love demands deep conversion.
  2. Deep love is self-sacrificial (free will is operative, not feelings).
  3. Deep love is revolutionary (we love our enemies & return good for evil).
  4. Deep love is immersed in a prior love for God.

Jesus Christ, being slowly tortured to death on His Cross out of nothing but a total self-gift for you are me – that is the supreme example, the matchless exemplar of real love.

“It is face to face with Christ crucified that the abysmal egoism of what we are accustomed to call love becomes clear” ~ Hans Urs von Balthasar

No one in history or in fiction begins to compare with the Lord of glory on his Cross: the splendor of his person, his message, his love. ~ Fr. Dubay

Love Rooted in Conversion: Conclusions

  1. It takes a radical conversion in us to come to be able to love another genuinely, even a beautiful person.
  2. It takes deep conversion to love that person deeply.
  3. There is no such thing as love at first sight.
  4. Real love is uncommon in our world because full conversion is uncommon (cf. 1 Peter 1:22).
  5. Heroic conversion begets heroic love. Look at the saints!

Deep Love is Coterminous with Deep Prayer

  • Heroic love for God and neighbour is, of course, closely allied to profound intimacy with the indwelling Trinity. To a large extent they are the same thing. 1st & 2nd commandment cannot be separated.

  • Contemplative intimacy with God = most important of all human activities.

Make yourself a capacity and I will make myself a torrent.” ~ Jesus’ words to Bl. Angela of Foligno

Saints Light Fires

  • The glories of Church history are chiefly the works of individuals who, themselves bursting with love and intimacy with the Trinity, spark others to imitate their burning love, their magnanimity and their heroicity in all the virtues.

Chapter 8: Conflicts and Conversion

  • The most basic healing of our deepest wounds comes from contemplative intimacy with the indwelling Trinity and the deep conversion that makes it possible.

  • The biggest problem with your vocation is when you do not live it according to the divine plane for that way of life.
  • Sound psychology and competent counselling can be helpful, but they are greatly limited.

The Main Roots of Human Conflict

  1.  Each of us from the date of our birth experiences an egocentric outlook and behaviour whose origin stems from our aboriginal woundedness (“original sin”).

  2. “illuminism” in 2 forms – (1) natural – thinking your opinions, ideas, preferences are superior to everyone else’s, (2) supernatural – “the privileged-pipeline-to-God idea”
  3.  lack of perspective – a lack of proportion in viewing and acting upon problems that commonly arise when people gather together.
  4.  lack of having “one mind” – a lack of having a shared vision about the main issues of life.

The New Testament therapy alone works adequately ~ Fr. Dubay

Presuppositions to Attaining Shared Vision

  1. We have a genuine love for one another.
  2. We have a real love for truth, that is, for things as they actually are.
  3. We welcome correction.
  4. We need to be humble.
  5. We need to give up our own mere likes and preferences.
  6. We must be intentional.

New Testament Rootings

  • Jesus prayed at the last supper that his disciples would be miraculously and “completely one” (Jn 17:23).
  • Jesus warned that a divided community is doomed for failure (Mt 12:25).

Caring Concern

  • To the Philippians the Apostle writes that “nobody [is to] think of his own interests first but everybody is to think of other people’s interests instead” (Phil 2:4 JB).

Shown Warmth

  • There is no other worldview that comes close to the beauty of the Lord and his teaching … and our saints who live it to the utmost.

Overcoming Evil with Good

  • Practical ways to overcome evil with good:
    1. Unlimited forgiveness
    2. Pray for the perpetrators of the wrong
    3. Give them an example in our own behaviour of what the gospel looks like: no retaliation, no grudge-keeping, no animosity, no shown bitterness, no refusal to communicate and talk, no gossip.
    4. Approach the person privately.

Summary in a Nutshell

  • This magnificent picture of human communities—marriages, consecrated life, parishes and all others—comes about when profound inner changes and a deep intimacy with God come about. Human ideas and psychological counselling may offer some help, but on the whole, without the gospel therapy, the healing is partial at best: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Not something less.

Chapter 9: A Surefire Program

How does deep conversion happen? What is going to get me to move? And to be persevering about it? Not just for a few weeks after I finish this book, but for the whole rest of my life? What is our part in seeing to it that deep conversion does come about in our individual lives?

The surefire program is a combination of divine grace and our cooperation with it, both absolutely indispensable.

All of the following Be’s are interlinked and interwoven, as a moment’s reflection makes clear.

  1. Be concerned – we had better be bothered about the level we have thus far reached or not reached. We should be bothered about losing the eternal enthrallment we have been called to enter into one day and we should be bothered about moral mediocrity (Rev. 3:16).
  2. Be determined – Although we are not Pelagians, God makes the weak of this world mighty only to the extent that they cooperate with a determined and resolute repentance.
  3. Be motivated – see Chapter 6 for 7 reasons why we should be motivated. Commit these 7 reasons to memory and review them often. Here are 4 more reasons to bolster volitional impact: (8) our apostolic effectiveness will be immensely increased in proportion as we grow in conversion. (9) people who are profoundly intimate with their indwelling Lord are never bored. (10) it equips the person to handle suffering profitably and even happily. (11) By taking this path, we are building up our primary community: marriage, priesthood, consecrated life.
  4. Be committed to daily meditative/contemplative prayer – intimacy with the indwelling Trinity is the taproot of our surefire program. To put it simply: the main source of deep conversion is to fall in love with endless Beauty. A genuine person will gladly sacrifice for real love. Christic martyrs are in love.
  5. Be humble – humility offers practical know-how in solving wisely the thousands of nitty-gritty problems that come up in anyone’s life, and especially in one who is trying to avoid even small selfishnesses.
    • Humility = complete honesty. To be aware of our own limitations and that everything is a gift from God.
    • How does humility promote conversion and prayer? Humility invites light, divine light that we otherwise would not have. God grants His light to only those that really want it.
    • Humility gives us the light found in the virtue of prudence, the virtue that aids us in applying the beauty of gospel principles to the immense number of details in the life of each of us.
  6. Be specific – get rid of mere vague wishes. Focus on clear and specific aims and plans. ** TIP = Particular examen – focus on 1 fault to be corrected or 1 virtue to be improved. Review last 24 hours. Then prepare for next 24 hours.
  7. Be persevering – 2 tips here to be persevering against our remarkable resistance to conversion:
    1. Personal weekly checkup – After writing down the 7 Be’s… Our suggestion here is that once a week at the same time (lest it be forgotten), we go over our plan, one Be at a time, “Am I faithful to each of these seven factors? How am I succeeding—or failing? Do I need to change anything in order to improve or correct what is amiss?”

    2. Periodic accountability to someone reliable – confessor, spiritual director, spouses in an ideal marriage, appropriate people.

Our Program: An Overview

We may take it to be clear that our first four Be’s are a closely knit unity. Each one implies the others. There are no gimmicks. These motivations and practices will be found together or not at all. Only people with a growing contemplative intimacy with God will be falling in love. Only they who are falling in love will be determined to be effective in getting rid of offenses to their supreme Beloved. Only they will be lastingly concerned about this “one thing”, this whole process of profound and lasting transformation.

Conversely, only if we are sincerely concerned about our lack of progress, will we be determined to ponder our motivation and prayer depth—and then do something about them. We are then less likely to permit ourselves to forget any of the Be’s or to take our eyes off Jesus and his salvific message, the mainspring of the entire enterprise.

That our last three Be’s are necessary from the practical point of view seems so obvious that a further explanation seems superfluous. We may however conclude this chapter with a personal experience.

Chapter 10: The Sacramental Dimension

The Sacraments are how Jesus brings life and saintliness in His Church, especially in the Eucharist and Reconciliation.

Some notes about the Sacrament of Reconciliation

  • This sacrament is for guilt, not for mere feelings, ordinary forgetfulness, or mistakes.
  • We need to confess things we can control but do not.
  • One of the reasons we should not confess non-guilt items is that they distract us from what we can and should correct: real guilt, real sins.

  • We must make a firm commitment to change – to “go and sin no more.”
  • When we are not sure of guilt, the doubt should be briefly mentioned in our confession: for example, I may have been partially guilty in showing anger, or I may have been slow in turning away from an unchaste scene on television.

  • There cannot be a sacrament of Reconciliation unless real guilt is confessed. Even though the sin was forgiven the first time the penitent was absolved, the Church’s power given by Jesus continues to heal and give grace.

  • Brevity of the penitents is of critical importance. A completely correct confession should be done in 1-2 minutes at most. Priests should give homilies explaining this rather than correct penitents in the moment.
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