Sunday, August 30, 2015
Growth in Spirituality
Scriptures and the Magisterium are the lifeblood of our spiritual development. A professor at the Catholic University in the field of spirituality shows us the reason we need rational knowledge of Christian spirituality. The object of spirituality is revelation and personal experience. Spirituality in its development from the beginning to end is not a subjective study but a rational attempt to understand systematically what is involved. The study is mainly one for theologians but the layperson also has the need to approach the study of spirituality to help in its development.
However, in visiting a Catholic book store and looking over the books in the spirituality section, many books deal with the authors' meditation on their personal emotional experiences of spirituality. Obviously reading these kinds of books is better than not reading any at all, but there is the danger that we come away thinking spirituality is all about emotions and sentiment.
One who is interested in a healthy spirituality needs to be familiar with the Scriptures. Not only have the writers being inspired by the Holy Spirit but the Church guarantees the contents of the Scriptures for our growth in spirituality. In the Old Testament, we have the stories of God's workers in their journeys, and in the Psalms, prayers that bring us closer to God. The New Testament gives us the teaching of Jesus and how this teaching was applied in the daily lives of the Apostle.
We also need to give ear to the teaching of the Church. In the beginning, we had the Creed and its teaching was central but with time the Church began to teach us with its documents and especially in these times of rapid change in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. In a person's religious experience, there are few things that should be remembered. In the 2000 years of church history, there have been many spiritual giants. They have passed on to others their experience of the spiritual life but also theologians have used their words and looked at them in an objective manner giving great help to the readers.
Individual personal experiences of the spiritual life are important in the development of spirituality. But when they are too subjective there is a danger of distortion. Necessary is to have a spiritual director to give an objective evaluation of what has transpired. God has made us all different, and we have different ways of growing spiritually, which is a great help in understanding the possibilities that we have.
In the development of a theology of spirituality, we see the tendency of using the human sciences. In the past we have seen certain saints use help from the sciences in their teaching and writing; however, it must be remembered that this knowledge from the human sciences can't replace spirituality. They help to see what is going on in an objective way in the spiritual life of an individual.
What happens in the spiritual life is an individual work, but it has to be looked at objectively if it is to be of help to others and oneself. The professor concludes the column by recommending that the readers spend time with a rational explanation of the spiritual life even though it may be a little difficult at the beginning, this academic approach systematically done will be of great help to the individual.