by Catherine Michaud, CSJ.

Preparing for my January 9 program at Loyola titled, “Faith Stages and the Spiritual Life,” I discovered SPIRAL DYNAMICS®, a program that provides a framework for understanding the “process of human emergence and how living systems evolve, grow and change” ( It provides a means for “tracking the evolution of worldviews and a scaffold on which to stand while analyzing situations and planning the most appropriate actions. It allows us both to differentiate the things that make us diverse and to integrate the things which draw us together, thereby creating a fuller picture of who we, Homo sapiens, are as active participants in our world.” I learned from Richard Rohr that “United States diplomats are given an intense course in Spiral Dynamics before they are sent to other countries, because they need to have some empathy for the levels of development they are likely to find there.”

James Fowler contributed to the understanding of life unfolding in stages with his study of faith development in the 1970s. He opened the door to reflection on the spiritualities that nurture a person’s soul at each stage. He calls the earliest stage “undifferentiated” because the infant’s “world view” is total unity of self with the one who gives and sustains life. In Jungian terms it is the pre-ego “dawn state.”

Earlier this week another of my dearest uncles, my mother’s brother, passed away. I have observed how my mother and these old gentlemen of deep faith gradually withdrew from this world into another realm—into the “twilight” where the ego is no more. Have they returned to that original state of total union? Or, is theirs a newer, richer Union? I am in wonder at the mystery they have entered. How can one prepare for this?

Catherine is a spiritual director at Loyola. Read her bio here.