Saturday, July 2, 2011

Understanding Spirituality

A priest, writing on spirituality for the Catholic Times, simplifies our understanding of spirituality by dividing it into four categories: basic, special, infused, and personal.

Basic spirituality, as the words imply, is foundational, dealing with the evangelical virtues of poverty,  purity and obedience; and with the supernatural virtues of  faith, hope and charity. This is the spirituality to be followed by Christians.

Special spirituality, however, is not for everybody. In the history of the Church, there have been many spiritual practices: Dominican, Jesuit, Franciscan, Benedictine, Legion of Mary, among others. It is the spirituality that attracts certain individuals, there being no obligation to follow this spirituality, thus the reason it's called special.

Infused spirituality involves contemplation, exemplified by Theresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. This spirituality is a gift of grace, the working of God in us. It may seem only for the few among us but our columnist says it is possible for all.

Speaking broadly. these three spiritual ways--basic, special and infused--are all directed to forming our own personal spirituality, the forth category. But what is important is not any particular spirituality but how they operate in us, how they affect our living.

Spirituality begins within the human condition. We were made with this spiritual possibility as the fulfillment of our humanity. Just as we can forget to be  thankful for the water and air needed for our physical well being, we can also forget our natural inclination for spirituality.Becoming intent only on our present reality and tending to see only the difficulties, we miss, the columnist says, the whole picture. The true meaning of life, the goal of all four spiritual practices is the  seeing, appreciating and living the ultimate reality.                                                                                           

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