What direction should a spiritual life take? An article in Bible & Life magazine, by a priest-professor of spirituality, begins by telling us that he used the short Apostle's Creed at Mass but changed recently to the longer Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.
he says, for a Christian not to have a personal imagining of
God according to ones likes or dislikes; doing so, a correct faith life
will not follow.
History has shown us that those who have followed their personal
preferences have gone far afield. Consequently, one needs to have the
understanding of Jesus if one is going to have a healthy spirituality.
For a Catholic, the two sources of our faith life are the Scriptures
Tradition, the truths of the gospel that were kept alive orally and
finally written down in the Scriptures. From the beginning there was
always a tension
between our spirituality and the Scriptures.
disciples used the Old Testament as their text in sermons. The Church
Fathers spent a great deal of time commenting on the Scriptures. This was
the way they understood the revealed message and the identity of Jesus.
It was not an intellectual and speculative study of the Scriptures. It
was the foundation of their spirituality, as it was of the Desert Fathers, who spent much
time reading the Scriptures to map out their spiritual journey.
religious of the middle ages worked with Lectio Divina (Divine
Reading) to develop their spirituality: reading the Scriptures,
meditating, praying and contemplating on what was read, which gave a
structure to the
'Divine Reading'. But unfortunately, at the same time, universities
appearing, and with the beginning of systematic theology there was a
separation of spirituality from Scripture. There were a few religious
groups who had difficulty accepting this new trend, but the majority
went along with
this speculative and intellectual approach to the spiritual life, which
gave a false understanding to the spiritual life, according to the
the beginning of modern times, there has been a return to volition and
feelings as a foundation for the spiritual life as presented in the
Scriptures. The attempt was to get closer to the words of
Scripture, in meditating on the humanity of Jesus and his
public life. During the middle of the modern era, however, there was a
return to the intellectual pursuit of knowledge, which again influenced
Church. This was the period of enlightenment, positivism (scientific
knowledge) and historicism (a theory that events are
determined or influenced by conditions and inherent processes beyond the
control of humans). Many feared that if they did not
participate in this intellectual pursuit they would be left behind
and, consequently, meditating on the Scriptures was not considered important.
Biblical criticism became the highest form of study of the Scriptures in
the eyes of many.
conclusion, the writer stressed that our
spiritual life has to begin with the
Scriptures. Only through the Scriptures will we get to know Jesus. When
the study of Scripture becomes an
exercise in intellectual curiosity, then we are bound to block the real
message of Scripture from affecting the full flowering of our spiritual
life. We have to meet Jesus in the
Scriptures. When reading the words of Scripture and are genuinely moved
by the love of Jesus, we will be filled with his grace and feel a
oneness with him. Christian prayer without this basic understanding of
Scripture, not only lacks Christian meaning but
can lead us in a wrong direction.