Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mature Spirituality

Writing in Living with the Bible, a professor of spirituality at the Catholic University asks what is of a higher order, spirituality, devotional life, or the religious life? His answer: they are all the same.

Provided we go to church because we believe in Jesus, then all our  acts taken together are our faith life. However, many see these acts only as exterior acts and then judge hastily that they have no interiority or depth. That is why we have the ranking of the life of faith.

What we used to call the devout life is now called the spiritual life.The word 'spirituality' came into common use during the second half of the 20th century. And it is now not only used within the church but used in all areas of society. Spirituality has to do with what is considered unusual and special; it's therefore often thought to be, though incorrectly, of greater worth than the devout or religious life.

In our tradition, the professor reminds us. we used the words 'asceticism' and 'mysticism'. The spiritual writers of the past considered the desire to be one with God the mystical journey. These words, however, are better applied in explaining  the spiritual life. But because of the misunderstandings of the past, the church chooses to use the word 'spirituality,' which, unfortunately, has its own problems.

Some time ago a survey showed that 90 percent of our Catholics go to church for peace of mind. In our present Korean society, there is a  search for psychological peace, which has influenced all of society. Consequently, many see the interior life as simply an aspect of achieving a satisfying and healthy life. So the psychologists become the spokesmen for the spiritual life.

The professor says that though we have hundreds of religions in Korea, for the  most part we live peacefully together. The reason for this, he feels, is that when any religion comes here, it's influenced by the Shamanism permeating our culture, which means, he claims, that it has not always been a worthwhile collaboration.

He recalls the words of St. Paul (Cor. 1-13): "Has Christ, then, been divided into parts?" And the words of St. Matthew (5:48): Our spiritually is one. We are called to be holy like God is holy.... In a word, you must be made perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect....We are called to resemble Jesus." 

These words, says the professor, sums up the spiritual journey we are on. God gives us the graces, and we respond in the practice of the virtues: faith, hope, and charity, the evangelical counsels and all the other virtues, to partake in Christ's mystery, and through Christ  to arrive at God with a new life.

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