Engaging in Spiritual Conversations

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As an introvert, I have a hard time making small talk. In fact, I often joke that people are hesitant to have lunch alone with me, because before long, the conversation will be deep—not heavy or controversial, but just meaningful. During the past month alone, three such conversations resulted in tears (a mixture of sad/joyful tears) being shared.

I consider these meaningful conversations to be spiritual conversations, or conversations that touch the heart. In fact, spiritual conversations do not need to mention God explicitly, nor are they designed to convert people to “my way of thinking” or to my religion. In a great article, 10 Prompts for Spiritual Conversations, wife, mother, and Ignatian Associate Lisa Kelly explains that such conversations are characterized by “real depth and meaning” and leave the participants with a broader worldview, a stronger heart, and a lighter step.

Such meaningful, spiritual conversations are an important tool in evangelizing catechesis. This is especially true in catechumenal and adult faith settings, in which catechists are often engaging people who are inquiring about the Catholic faith. Rather than delving immediately into doctrinal topics, we engage them in meaningful conversations that invite them to pay more attention to the spiritual dimension of their everyday lives. This is no less important for catechists who work with children in traditional faith formation programs; we need to equip them with the tools needed to pay attention to the spiritual stirrings of the heart.

To help in this endeavor, Lisa’s 10 prompts for spiritual conversations encourage us to listen rather than persuade or convince people of anything. Of the tips she offers, my favorite is “tell me your story,” which is the prompt that a priest friend of mine says he now uses when he meets with couples who want to get married or have a child baptized. This is instead of asking them why they want to get married in the Church or have their child baptized. The former approach invites a conversation of the heart, while the latter is seeking a “correct” answer. Keep that prompt in mind when meeting families who wish to register their children in your faith formation program. I guarantee you will see a difference!

In what situations do you find yourself initiating meaningful, spiritual conversations? How do you integrate such conversations in the catechetical setting?

About Joe Paprocki 2748 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

2 Comments on Engaging in Spiritual Conversations

  1. I love the prompt, would you share with me your story because I am really interested in hearing the response. However, how do you suggest we reply, if the person says “what do mean?”.

    • Hi Janet and thanks for your comment and question. When sharing your story with someone, you don’t have to work to hard to offer “proof” of your experience with God. Just emphasize that, to you, the experience was very real and that, as a result of the experience, you were drawn closer to God and inspired to love others as he loves us.

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