100 Catholics were asked at the end of Mass: What do you understand spirituality to be? More than half of them hesitated and couldn't give an answer. A columnist, discussing this situation in the Catholic Times, asserts that most of the others who answered would probably find it difficult to speak about spirituality for 10 minutes. This would also be true, he says, for those who have lived the Christian life for many years.
Though we often hear the word 'spirituality' mentioned when the topic of religion is brought up, its meaning is not easily understood; it's often shrouded in mystery, says the columnist. Partly because, he suggests, there are different kinds of spiritualities such as a martyr's spirituality, a layperson's spirituality, ecological spirituality, and so on, which makes for confusion.
The absence of spirituality, the columnist says, is a shadow hanging over the Korean Church. We speak often of the crisis of faith, he says, but it is more often a lack of spirituality. The spirituality that the Holy Spirit fosters in us gives us a way of seeing God, providing us with a world view, an ethical vision, and life values--all included in the word spirituality, enabling us to love God, neighbor, ourselves and creation, for we all participate in the priesthood of Jesus.
One seminary professor saw spirituality as the strength that Jesus gives us enabling us to live wisely in society, without which we would not have the dynamic will to live correctly, and doing it with happiness and meaningfulness. Spirituality gives us a deep insight into the workings of our society.
Another priest made a study of the secularization of the Korean Catholic Church for his master's decree. Referring to the 1984 Gallup survey, he noted that 37 percent of Catholics were looking for well-being from their religious life; in 2004, the percentage was 74 percent. Goals of eternal life and meaningfulness were extremely low in comparison to achieving well-being. We can see from this statistic, he says, that the psychological motivation of Catholics mirrors the crisis that the Church in Korea faces today.
Spirituality is not something that comes down from heaven that miraculously changes us, but something we personally have to make part of our life. if not, we are living without a compass and trying to make sense of our life without having a competent guide. Living without a compass may be quick and easy, but it is a dangerous way to live, he says, for we are separating ourselves from Christ.
The purpose of all this, no matter the kind of words we put together, is to live in the way Christ showed us, and to live with the strength that he continues to give us. This is the kind of spirituality that we as Christians must aspire to.