Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Searching for Wholeness

A priest takes as his subject, in a recent issue of the Kyeongyang magazine, the healing of the whole person. With extensive experience in counseling, he is now helping those in need at a retreat center. The aim of counseling, he says, is to encourage mental and spiritual healing.

Many advances have been made in the field of psychology, however,  clinical studies have not discovered any one particular method that is more successful than any other. The reason for this difficulty, he believes, is that from the beginning there was a failure in not seeing the troubled person as a whole person. From his perspective, he feels most counselors have left out the spiritual dimension.

The person, he reminds us, is made up of body, mind and spirit. Besides the psychological needs, there are spiritual needs and bodily needs--all of which must be considered. There is a mutual correspondence between the spiritual and the psychological. We need  psychological help to grow in  spiritual self-renunciation and in transcendence.

The first requirement, he says, is to discover who we are as persons. St. Paul tells the Christians "May the God of peace make you perfect in holiness. May he preserve you whole and entire: spirit , soul and body, irreproachable at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Thess. 5:23). Customarily, we are content to split a person into a soul and body dichotomy. What we see is the body, the external dimension, and what we don't see is the internal dimension, the soul. In a way, this view is correct, he says, but it is not what we learn from revelation: What makes us who we are and forms our personality are the body and the  mental faculties, our feelings, thoughts, judgments, reasoning, and will. The spiritual dimension allows us to know God, to become intimate with him, and to have life in him.

The maturity of a human being relies on the development of the whole person. "Grace builds on nature" is a maxim that comes down to us from the  Scholastic period. God meets us according to where we are in our present mental and spiritual maturity, meaning our natural and psychological  dimensions. The Holy Spirit works in harmony with our human development, whatever that development might be, in giving us his graces. This does not rule out a person having a distorted type of spirituality: cliquish and divisive, or with a fundamentalist and fanatical attitude, which are signs of immaturity.

A person with a mature Christian spirituality discovers in God who they are, and through the self discovers God. In the Scriptures we are told what a mature spirituality is "...till we become one in faith and, in the knowledge of God's Son, form that  perfect man who is Christ come in full stature" (Eph. 4:13).
Truth is achieved through body, mind and spirit. A Christian does not separate these three. We work to unite the three in a harmonious whole. However, growth in one area does not mean we will necessarily have growth in the other. We will never be satisfied in our spiritual growth.

How does God draw us to him? And how does he love us? are questions we will continue to ask ourselves. But when we realize that God is always working with his Spirit in our lives, we will have an integral  appreciation  of our reality. We then will have the right holistic relationship with our psychological make up, with our work, with others, with our material existence, and with all of existence. Spirituality includes all of this, and not only during our time in prayer, worship and religious exercises.  God works in all that we do.

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