WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Spirituality the constant factor

Eddie Condra

The spirit of change entered the’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†Church after the Second Vatican Council like a huge spring tide.’≈°√É‚Äû’¬† In the face of this tide the Catholic community ran before it in search of high ground – ground that would be safe from the tide of change. For example, when we saw them change the language of the Mass, we consoled ourselves by saying, ‘but the Mass will always be the same’. Yet, today, we see that the Mass is radically different’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†from what it was 30 years ago. When we think about it those of us who have been in the church long enough to do so, see that nothing escapes the spirit of change.

This has been a disconcerting age, particularly for those who have been brought up in the belief that some things will never change.’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†When we look at the past we see that much of what we believed has evaporated and is no more. And when we look to the future we may well shudder at how unclear our picture is, or at the depth’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†of our uncertainty about the shape of the Church in the new millennium.

In the face of this change and uncertainty’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†it is important to seek some constant, some thread which is present and capable of snaking its way through all the change. That constant for which we search is SPIRITUALITY.’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†It is the thread which allows us to give meaning to change, to live at peace in a changing Church.

Spirituality is our core as human beings, a complex inner dynamic reality perpetually in a state of becoming.’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†It is our hunger for love and belonging – our search for’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†truth, meaning and purpose. Spirituality is our view of the world, life and all its mysteries. It is our deepest fears, beliefs, yearnings and understandings. It is shaped by our personalities, age, gender, culture and life’s experiences and, in turn, shapes every aspect of our lives.’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†My spirituality is’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†Me, the human being. Spirituality is what Scripture calls the’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†The Heart, the old catechism called The’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†Soul’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†and spiritual writers refer to as’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†The Interior Life.

Religious Spirituality’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†

All religions attempt to give shape and form to’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†a spirituality.’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†Their rites, creeds, dogmas, laws, assemblies, special days and significant seasons are all attempts to give concrete expression to a core spirituality.

However, all systems carry a ‘use-by’ date. Sooner or later they fray at the edges.’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†Not only do they become obsolete, but they can in time become counter-productive if we cling to the system as though it were an end in itself.’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†This process of decay is clearly seen in the exchanges between Jesus and the Pharisees.’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†In these encounters Jesus confronts people for whom the system has become more important than its purpose and function.’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†

Traditionally we have denigrated the Pharisees and we probably wouldn’t invite them to tea or want to have them counted among our friends. Alas, their story is ours. We tend, all too often, to prefer to maintain and uphold systems rather than face the hard yakker of changing and realigning them with the ways of the Spirit. The season is upon us when we’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†must ask some hard questions about our present expression of spirituality.’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†Have we not as a church-going people, created a spirituality which reflects a God who values nice behaviour’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†more than honest communication, who applauds order and control while shunning the creative chaos which lies at the heart of life, a God who is so good, so holy and so nice that She/He has become irrelevant? Could it be that we have buried our God’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†under layers of complex rituals, mountains of religious and biblical gobbledegook and in so doing hidden the source and conclusion of the search of the human heart?’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†Have we created a religious culture so difficult to pierce that we have deflected people’s hunger for God into different areas? Can it be that our spirituality is so religiously blinkered that we do not recognise, in what we have called a non-religious secular society the deep hunger for God?

Spirituality is a state of being fully alive, open to the moment and includes a sense of belonging and having a place in the universe; a deep appreciation of the natural world, an openness’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†for surprise and a gratefulness for the gratuity of everything.’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†Joy and wonderment are all part of spirituality. Spiritual growth is a type of healing from which most of us could benefit.’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†

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Preparing for the future

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*’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†Spirituality is our view of the world.

* Our spirituality reflects our values, beliefs, meanings’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†

‘≈°√É‚Äû’¬†’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†understandings.

*’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†Everyone has a spirituality.

*’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†Our spirituality is shaped by life’s experiences and life’s

‘≈°√É‚Äû’¬†’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†’≈°√É‚Äû’¬† experiences shape our spirituality.

*’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†Believers and so-called non-believers have a spirituality.

*’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†Spirituality is not the sole domain of religious people.

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Spirituality calls us to:

Live fully; take responsibility, celebrate, mourn

value times of darkness, celebrate growth and enlightenment;

face the monsters;

move out of our safe oasis and risk;

enter the cave of creative confusion;

enter the process of life;

warns us not to be seduced by ready-made answers;

to be concerned and not to worry all in the same breath: to enter fully into those moments which shatter all that is sacred.’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†

Christian Spirituality begins with the Word becoming flesh and continues with the flesh becoming word.

Prayer’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†

Our prayer adds nothing to God but makes us grow in love.

‘≈°√É‚Äû’¬†They shall be my people and I will be their’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†God; for they will

return to me with all their heart.’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†[Jer: 24:7]

‘≈°√É‚Äû’¬†I will give them a single heart and I will put a new spirit in them … I will give them a heart of flesh.’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†[Esek: 11:19]

‘≈°√É‚Äû’¬†For where your treasure is, there will your heart be.

[Mt 6:21].’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†’≈°√É‚Äû’¬† ‘≈°√É‚Äû’¬†’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†’≈°√É‚Äû’¬† ‘≈°√É‚Äû’¬†’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†’≈°√É‚Äû’¬† ‘≈°√É‚Äû’¬†’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†