a. General: You’re entering this stage when your exploration has taken you into the territory of beginning to know and understand Jesus, what he stood for, how he lived his life, and what his vision of God’s Dream for humanity was about. We characterize this phase as “Interest.”
b. By this stage you are beginning to formulate some personal reflections about the traditional belief in God; you’re exploring your own experience and you’re sifting through the images and concepts you were handed down and dropping those that don’t fit with your experience and experimenting with new images to see if they help explain more of your world and life.
c. You have by now read enough about Jesus, and meditated on his life, that he comes to be seen as model for you and a paradigm of what true humanity is about.
d. Faith plays a larger role in your life. You are engaged in more intentional activity to get to know Jesus better through study, meditation, and group work.
e. Christian life takes on an intentional dimension; you find yourself seeking out workshops, reading, discussions about Scripture, Jesus, God. Interestingly, this phase may or may not include regular church service attendance, depending on whether you find the worship service helpful and beneficial to your own spiritual growth. You experience a growing attempt to model more and more of your life on the life of Jesus.
f. Personal and family resources continue to be considered an individual matter, but you find yourself making an effort to move towards “tithing.” At least, you’ve built in a budget line in your family budget and you treat your contributions as another necessary expenditure in your family life.
g. You find that you now intentionally budget time include time for involvement in spiritual activities; your priorities continue to be set, however, in terms of your personal agenda.
If you have been in this phase for some time and are trying to move on, consider opportunities for discipleship and discipline: you may consider a more rigorous form of daily meditation, known as “the Ignatian Exercises”; you could work through the 42 introductory exercises elsewhere on this website; you could contract with a spiritual director to engage in individual spiritual direction to help you with your journey; or you may take a silent retreat – 1, 3, 5, or 8 days – at Five Oaks, Loyola House, or other retreat centre. You might also consider joining Harcourt’s Spiritual Life Committee and share your experience with others.