Saturday, January 14, 2012

Deepening our Spiritual Life

Spirituality is a vast subject and a columnist in the Catholic Times has worked with the subject for many months and now applies what has been learned to understanding the inclinations of the heart. Using the works of Adrian van Kaam and his perspective of seeing the heart as having four natural inclinations: congeniality, compassion, compatibility and competence, he proposes that following the movement of these inclinations will lead us to deepening our spiritual lives.  

By Congeniality is meant our  congruence to the  image of God within.  It is to look for the God within and to rest in him. It is finding out who I am, and what I am to do. We are to rest in God. And by remaining in God, van Kaam means that we are to keep on searching for him. We are continually in search of God's will. Continually in communication (prayer) with him. Until we come to an understanding of our ultimate mission in life, we will not be able to act correctly, he says. When we don't know the final goal, we lose our way and life becomes a maze.
Inclination to Compassion  means that though we are weak, incomplete, limited  human beings with many emotional scars, and because of the suffering, we can reach out sympathetically to others.  We  need to be healed. We must try to understand and forgive, and be understood and forgiven. As long as we are confined to our body and mental faculties, we will not be able to grow spiritually.
Compatibility allows us to make those we come in contact with feel comfortable, avoiding critical and judgmental words that will make others feel uncomfortable. When we are not in harmony with those we are living with, it is because, says our writer, of a failure to be at one with God's will and to consider his will in our lives. When we have congeniality, compassion compatibility guiding the movements of our hearts, then the fourth quality of Competence will appear in our lives, bringing harmony. An orchestra does not remain silent but gives us beautiful melodies; so also when we have the  harmony of these elements the music will resonate in our lives. 

These four inclinations of the heart are gifts, a grace. This way of living will not only melt the 108 troubles of life (a phrase from Buddhism) but will give us 108 answers in grace to  answer these  troubles of life. By developing these four qualities so they work together in ever greater harmony will help move us closer to living a more abundant spiritual life. 

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