Friday, October 4, 2013

What is Spirituality?

A priest with a doctorate in spirituality from the Gregorian University in Rome, now teaching spirituality and its history, says we are all called to live the spiritual life. Writing in the Kyeongyang magazine, specifically about the layperson's spirituality, he does not like to see, he says, the word 'spirituality' discussed as if there were many types of spiritualities, as if it could be divided into a variety of technical subjects to be studied. 

We are called to follow the one way. God is holy and we are called to be holy.  "In a word, you must be made perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect " (Matt. 5:48).  


He does however admit as valid the division into clerical, religious and lay person's spirituality, as long as we remember this is not a theological division but one recorded in the history of the Church. In the beginning of the Church, there was no distinction in this call to holiness. During the middle ages, the religious began to take a leading role in the spreading of the good news, and spirituality came to be associated with the monastic tradition. In the article, he uses the Second Vatican Council and its documents to explain his understanding.

It is commonly understood, he says, that speaking about spirituality means discussing what's holy and what's worldly, holiness as being separate from worldly concerns. If we are tied to this kind of talk, he believes we will fail to understand the proper teaching on spirituality.

In the "Constitution of the Church," a document of the Second Vatican Council, in chapter four, it says: "The laity, by their very vocation, seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God....They are called there by God so that by exercising their proper function and being led by the spirit of the gospel, they can work for the sanctification of the world from within, in the manner of leaven. In this way they can make Christ known to others, especially by the testimony of a life resplendent in faith, hope and charity. The layperson is  closely involved in the temporal affairs of every sort " (#31).

This work of sanctification is accomplished wherever the layperson finds himself: in the family, in the work place, or anywhere else in society. The priest then spells out the threefold mission, received at baptism, of Prophet, Priest and King, that is, of teaching, offering sacrifice, and ruling, which in some manner, he reminds his readers, is the mission of all the baptized.

In the past, the layperson followed the spirituality either of the priest or the religious, or gave up the idea completely. Today, it is understood that it is precisely within the world that the laity are to work for their own  and the world's sanctification. The priest, religious, and laity are all called to travel the road of spirituality.

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