Today Christmas has become a commercial celebration, whose bright lights hide the mystery of God’s humility, which in turn calls us to humility and simplicity. Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light
Spirituality is a word often tossed around. “I am spiritual but not religious.” “I prefer spirituality.” “She’s just so spiritual.” Shoot, it has even made its way into a recent Supreme Court decision.
The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality. This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation. – Justice Kennedy
Really? Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality [whatever that means] were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie. – Justice Scalia
Intimacy, if you do it right (or bad), can be spiritual.
I really like what Pope Benedict had to say to Deacons:
In the pastoral activity of parishes, remember that a healthy spirituality allows the Spirit of Christ to free the human person to act effectively in society1
In the same letter, he writes of the need of spirituality:
In order to arrive at genuine reconciliation and to live out the spirituality of communion that flows from it, the Church needs witnesses who are profoundly rooted in Christ and find nourishment in his word and the sacraments
He follows St. John Paul II in setting out standards for spirituality:
the ability to perceive the light of the mystery of the Trinity shining on the faces of brothers and sisters around us, to be attentive to “our brothers and sisters in faith within the profound unity of the Mystical Body, and therefore as ‘those who are a part of me’, in order to share their joys and sufferings, to sense their desires and attend to their needs, to offer them deep and genuine friendship”; the ability as well to recognize all that is positive in the other so as to welcome it and prize it as a gift that God gives me through that person, in a way that transcends by far the individual concerned, who thus becomes a channel of divine graces; and finally, the ability “to ‘make room’ for our brothers and sisters, bearing ‘each other’s burdens’ (Gal 6:2) and resisting the selfish temptations which constantly beset us and provoke competition, careerism, distrust and jealousy.”
That gives us a spirituality community, to be sure. And perhaps that is more important than individual spirituality.
But maybe not.
While spirituality, and whatever freedom is needed to either enjoy or express it, is often undefined, some connect it to psychology.
If it is connected in such a way, then it becomes rather individualized. And that is oftentimes, a good thing.
Some find spiritual solace in reading, or writing, or studying. I like my rosary. But, I also like my science. The more related it is to the the quantum side of things, the better. The deeper. I like hearing new theories on the origin of life in the universe. I enjoy reading stories about new planets, new understandings of the cosmos, and how transcendent all of that is.
It is humbling to know that the 70 or so years we spend on this planet is nothing in the scheme of things — of a 13 billion year old universe. And it is everything.
And no, spirituality is not limited strictly to “believers.”
Some find spirituality in other areas, more grounded areas. Some in areas far afield of my own cosmic stretch.
But, since it is all the rage now — just ask the hippie — where do you find yours? And, do you think that somehow those seeking spirituality are less reasoned than others?
By the way, I define spirituality as that which calls us away from our present reality to a larger, grander scheme of things even if such a scheme is rather simple. Spirituality, for me, keeps us humble, grounded, and reaching for that which next.
- Pope Benedict XVI, Africae Munus (Apostolic Exhortations; Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011). ↩
The Liturgy is at the same time the Kingdom of Heaven and our dwelling place, “a new Heaven and a new earth”, the point of convergence where all things find true meaning.
The Liturgy not only teaches us to broaden our horizon and our vision, to speak the language of love and communion, but also to learn how to live in love for one another, notwithstanding our differences and even our divisions.
The whole world is included in this great embrace, the communion of saints and all God’s creation. The entire universe becomes “Cosmic Liturgy”, to cite the teaching of St Maximus the Confessor. Such a Liturgy can never become old or antiquated. – Patriarch Bartholomew, 2006 (when Pope Benedict visited him).
God is—and the Christian faith adds: God is as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three and one. This is the very heart of Christianity, but it is so often shrouded in a silence born of perplexity. Has the Church perhaps gone one step too far here? Ought we not rather leave something so great and inaccessible as God in his inaccessibility? Can something like the Trinity have any real meaning for us? Well, it is certainly true that the proposition that “God is three and God is one” is and remains the expression of his otherness, which is infinitely greater than we and transcends all our thinking and our existence. But if this proposition had nothing to say to us, it would not have been revealed. And as a matter of fact, it could be clothed in human language only because it had already penetrated human thinking and living to some extent.
Joseph Ratzinger, The God of Jesus Christ: Meditations on the Triune God (trans. Brian McNeil; San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008), 29.
On Good Friday, I thought this quote from the Pope Emeritus’ book was fitting:
In all that we have said so far, it is clear that not only has a theological interpretation of the Cross has been given, together with an interpretation, based on the Cross, of the fundamental Christian sacraments and Christian worship, but also that existential dimension is involved: What does this mean for me? What does it mean for my path as a human being? The incarnate obedience of Christ is presented as an open space into which we are admitted and through which our lives find a new context. The mystery of the Cross does not simply confront us; rather, it draws us in and gives new value to our life.
This existential aspect of the new concept of worship and and sacrifice appears with particular clarity in the twelfth chapter of the Letter of the Romans: “I appeal to you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God, to present you bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual [word-like] worship” (v. 1) ….