The Profound Journey of Conversion and Contemplative Love

In the realm of spiritual reflection and contemplation, the words of the wise often carry profound insights that challenge our understanding and, at times, even shock us into deeper contemplation. Today, we embark on a journey inspired by the wisdom of Thomas Dubay's "Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer," a work that delves into the essence of conversion, love, and contemplation.

Dubay opens his discourse with a remarkable statement: "There are more people converted from mortal sin to grace than there are religious converted from good to better." At first glance, this assertion may raise eyebrows, but as we explore it further, it becomes clear that conversion is a transformation not just from vice to virtue but from a limited understanding of life to a more profound connection with the Divine.

To many, the concept of moral conversion may appear negative or threatening. It implies giving up worldly pleasures, making sacrifices, and shedding our selfish tendencies. However, this initial reaction only scratches the surface of a much more profound truth. Conversion encompasses the shift from deceit to honesty, from gluttony to temperance, from vanity to humility, and from lust to love. It signifies a journey from egocentrism to a selfless love for God and all of His creation.

At the core of this transformation lies the love of truth, an objective reality that transcends our personal preferences. Jesus, in his profound wisdom, invites us to love truth for what it is and not to cling to our desires when they conflict with reality. It is a call to embrace the world as it truly is, allowing love and truth to guide our actions and decisions.

Contemplative Love – The Ultimate Goal

Dubay's exploration takes us to the heart of contemplative intimacy with God, a love so deep that it becomes indistinguishable from our profound prayer. Just as Jesus habitually spent hours in communion with the Father, we are called to immerse ourselves in this divine closeness. It is a union that fills us with an uncontainable joy, sparking a thirst for the living God, much like a deer yearning for flowing waters. This intimate communion changes us from one glory to another, eventually leading us to the "utter fullness of God," a concept that may initially leave us in awe.

As we journey through life, we are invited to explore the depths of conversion, love, and contemplation. Dubay's wisdom guides us to recognize that the path of transformation extends far beyond mere moral change; it encompasses an unwavering connection with God, a profound love that grows in intensity, and a joy that transcends understanding. The ultimate goal is to be so immersed in contemplative intimacy with the Divine that it becomes the very essence of our being.

It is in the realization that deep love and deep prayer are intertwined and accessible to all that we find the greatest source of inspiration. The journey of conversion is a journey of love, and as we journey through life, may we, like the great mystics of the past, be forever "walking lovesick for God," a profound love that transforms and fills us with the utter fullness of the Divine.

Dubay, Thomas. Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer. Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition. 

The young abbot was speaking to his community one day, and he made a remark that shocked me on my first reading of it. “There are more people converted from mortal sin to grace, than there are religious converted from good to better.” Over the years the more I have experienced of life and thought about this statement the more I have been convinced of its truth. Yet one may ask, what is so shocking about it? (p. 12). 

To a goodly number of people the idea of moral conversion is heavily negative, even threatening. It suggests giving up fun things, making sacrifices, cutting down and cutting out, getting rid of numerous selfishnesses. This reaction is understandable, but it is only the smaller aspect of a larger and liberating truth. (p. 13). 

Conversion is a change from vice to virtue: from deceit and lying to honesty and truth. . . gluttony to temperance. . . vanity to humility. . . lust to love. . . avarice to generosity. . . rage to patience. . . laziness to zeal. . . ugliness to beauty. From the point of view of attention to and intimacy with God, supreme Beauty, supreme Delight, conversion includes a change from little or no prayer to a determined practice of christic meditation leading eventually to contemplative intimacy, “pondering the word day and night”, leading to a sublime “gazing on the beauty of the Lord” with all its varying depths and intensities (Ps 1:1-2; 27:4). (p. 14). 

Egocentrism is probably the main root of human conflicts. Hence, Jesus is saying “love truth, the way things objectively are; do not cling to your preferences when they clash with reality.” (p. 23). 

The person is living a life of love pure and simple (2 Jn 6). Or as Saint John of the Cross charmingly describes a person in the transforming union: walking lovesick for God. (p. 34). 

The best way to see how contemplative intimacy and love are the same reality is to look at the radiant image of the Father, Jesus himself (Heb 1:3). He habitually spent hours “long before dawn” deeply absorbed in the Father, and even on occasion it was the whole night in this profound communion (Mk 1:35; Lk 5:16; 6:12). He obviously was totally in love with his Father, for the Father was always present to him (Jn 16:32). Indeed his deepest love was coterminous with his deepest prayer. 

Both testaments of Scripture take it for granted that deep love and deep prayer are to be found in everyone’s life. The one thing we ask, the one thing we seek is to gaze on the beauty of the Lord (Ps 27:4); that is, the most important of all human activities is to be immersed in contemplative intimacy with God. What else could this be but a divinely profound love? We are to taste and see for ourselves, to experience a deep delight in this interpersonal closeness, a union that makes us radiant with joy (Ps 34:5, 8). So absorbing does this communion become that one’s awareness, the eyes of one’s mind, are always on the Lord (Ps 25:15). Not surprisingly, this love communion sparks an amazing thirsting for the living God as a deer longs for the flowing waters. One sings to the Beloved through the night, pining for him as a parched desert thirsts for the refreshing rain (Ps 42:1-2; 63:1). This intimacy brings with it a joy so great that it cannot be described (1 Pet 1:8), and it transforms the person from one glory to another (2 Cor 3:18). It can grow to a point where it fills a person “with the utter fullness of God” (Eph 3:19 JB), a staggering statement when one reflects on it for a few minutes. (pp. 72-73).

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