Brief Book Review: Turn to the Lord

Turn to the Lord: Forming Disciples for Lifelong Conversion
By Leonard J. DeLorenzo

Who’s it for? Faith formation leaders (especially Confirmation and RCIA): DREs, catechists, and accompanying individuals (parents, sponsors, spouses).

Who should read this? There are two versions of the book. The short version, best for accompanying individuals, presents material for twenty-five formation sessions. The long version, best for catechists, also includes formation session plans, including teaching notes and journal prompts.

What’s the main point? First – sacramental preparation ought to be concerned with faith formation rather than the accumulation of catechetical knowledge.  Second, the entire Christian life is one of ongoing conversion.

Why is this book important? DeLorenzo asks us to take sacramental preparation out of the classroom and into more intimate and personal faith formation groups.  He proposes a method of formation that corresponds with the kind of life of faith that all Christians should be living.

What intrigued me the most? Most significant is the emphasis on ongoing conversion and his foregrounding of the conversion of Saul/Paul. This seems the most necessary dimension of faith formation, especially in the face of the lingering perception (model?) that confirmation is like graduation.

Where would I push back? DeLorenzo is quick to overtly identify how Christians should strive to be like Paul (after his conversion, of course!), Mary, and should even try to learn to listen and see as God does. But while I could logically infer it, I did not see clear reference to trying to be more like Jesus.

Quibbles. DeLorenzo’s focus on conversion is terrific – in doing so, he highlights one of the most central themes for initiation (he treats this with regard to infant baptism, but it is even more clear within adult initiation!). Focusing first on the conversion of Saul offers him a terrific scriptural source for examination, particularly because of the extent of conversion – from persecutor to apostle. More might have been done from the outset, however, to draw out how conversion is necessary even for more ordinary individuals, who breathe less obviously “murderous threats” than Saul.

Kudos. It seemed to me that DeLorenzo’s format is well-suited to use within the liturgical year. The only season that is formally treated is Advent in sessions 11 and 12 (which could reasonably line up around November/December if one is using this method within a typical school-year calendar). When formation sessions begin anew after a Christmas break, he provides sessions relating to a Christian anthropology in weeks 14-15 (connecting nicely to the Christmas emphasis on incarnation), sin and conversion in the Lenten weeks 16-20. The format concludes with discipleship and the sacraments, which amplify some of the most important aspects of the Easter season. And all the way throughout, the scriptural examples that DeLorenzo relies upon are those that are particularly relevant throughout the liturgical year.

DeLorenzo, Leonard J. Turn to the Lord: Forming Disciples for Lifelong Conversion.  Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2021. xv + 296 pages. $29.95. ISBN: 9780814665640. Shorter version: Turn to the Lord: An Invitation to Lifelong Conversion. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2021. xiii + 154 pages. $14.95. ISBN: 9780814667378.

REVIEWER: David A. Pitt
David Pitt is Associate Professor of Theology at Loras College, Dubuque, Iowa.

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