Father Kevin’s Reflection – August 16, 2015 – Taking 125th Anniversary to the Next Step … the Next Generation
This week, if we are open to what is being experienced, will find true spirituality is nothing other than a dimension of Christian faith and life and that apart from Christ and His Church there is no possibility of genuine spirituality. Now I’d like to review some of the many kinds of spirituality that are found among Catholics and the features that are common to them all.
Perhaps the most obvious sources of “spiritualities” in the plural are the great religious orders of the Church: the Benedictines, the Dominicans, the Franciscans, the Carmelites, the Jesuits, etc. Each of the main families of consecrated men and women has a distinct charism (or spiritual gift) that comes from the Holy Spirit through the founder of the movement, and that charism will then shape the practical ways in which the members of each Order seek to follow the Lord Jesus:
– Praying the Divine Office and meditating on Holy Scripture in “lectio divina”, for example, are closely associated with the Benedictines.
– Deeply studying sacred theology in the service of effective preaching of the Gospel is the special gift of the Dominicans.
– Radical simplicity of life and care of the poor are central to the Franciscan charism.
– Or, mystical union with God through self-denial and ceaseless contemplation is prominent in the way of Carmel.
Though different from each other, all of these spiritualities or approaches to God complement (rather than compete with) the others; and, the Church embraces all of these and many more as treasures given to her by the Jesus through the Holy Spirit. While it is true that the Jesus is the only Way to the Father…it is also true that there are as many ways to the Him as there are human persons, and each person should seek his or her unique combination of methods of prayer, forms of discipline, and the proper balance of worship, study, fellowship, and service. But, while each person may have a unique combination of the parts that together constitute a spirituality, there are several features that must be present to all spiritualities in order to be genuine paths to union with Christ.
Every authentic spirituality must be Christocentric (centered on Christ), Ecclesial (lived in union with the Church and obedience to her pastors), Scriptural (founded upon the revealed and inerrant Word of God), and Sacramental (receiving God’s grace through the ordinary means given to us). The place where all four of these qualities converge most fully is in the Eucharist. In the Mass, Christ gives us not a thing but the gift of Himself, and He does so only in and through His Church.
By Word and Sacrament, Jesus reveals and makes present to us in every Mass the saving events of His Paschal Mystery, and in so doing, He draws us into full communion with His Body, the Church. For these reasons, every Christian spirituality is necessarily a Eucharistic spirituality; and the Church therefore, exhorts us with urgent love to share in the Eucharist every Sunday (even every day when possible!) and to adore Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.