Monday, August 8, 2011


A columnist in our Catholic newspaper, writing about spirituality, reminds us that we are all unique,  one of a kind, all in some way different. Uniqueness, putting aside the philosophical meanings of the word, is the basis, he says, for our spirituality. Each of us can rightfully assert that there never was anyone like me before or will be like me in the future.

When a married couple who are supposed to be one fight, it is because they are not one. You are you, and I am I. In the convents and monasteries, there are many who live in discord. Priests with their communities are often in conflict because of each one's  uniqueness.  Because of  uniqueness, it is not surprising to have dissension.  It is the natural results of living with others.

It is natural that each one expresses his spirituality uniquely. Each one lives his faith, his love, his prayer life, the experience of grace in many ways.The prayer of a grandfather and a young  theologian are different. A person can have satisfaction in prayer by reciting the 'Our Father,'  while another may meet God in contemplation.There are those that find inspiration on visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and those that are fascinated by spiritual reading, and those that find their satisfaction by going on a meditative mountain-climb.

Consequently, a parish of 4000 can have 4000 different ways of expressing spirituality. Just looking at the virtue of poverty we see what this may mean. It  doesn't make any difference how much money one has; the one with money may have a greater sense of the virtue of poverty than the one with no money.

God is leading us as individuals and we try to be open to the movements of the Spirit. But it should be clear that no  individual  should attempt to make his or her  spirituality substitute  for the individual spirituality of those in the   community.

We cannot then speak about the collective spirituality of a community. No director should move the community in this or that way. The director tries to give the Church's teachings on the basics of spirituality to the community, which then waits for the Spirit to move each one uniquely. It does not mean that the community is unimportant, but that the community is to help the individual grow in spirituality and not interfere with the growth. The columnist reminds us that when we forget this principle, we become 'secularized,' forgetting the will of God and making our own will supreme.

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