Cleric’s Corner from March 19, 2017

Spirituality is not religion. And conversely religion is not spirituality. Perhaps there was a time in your life when someone asked you, “What religion are you?” And you replied, “I am Catholic.” But has anyone ever asked you about your spirituality?

Though separate the two get mixed.

Spirituality is essential to the human experience. It rises up naturally with awareness; awareness of something beyond. It’s a life force like breath; it’s something I notice first in someone else. Nevertheless if I give this something time . . . it comes to me, speaking and inspiring, bestowing gifts of honesty, forgiveness, gratitude. Our ancestors did not have difficulty acknowledging the spirit world. They in fact saw the entire world as spirit-filled, and immersed in mystery. What was true for them is also true for us today.

In this day and age mystery is difficult to embrace because in general people are not comfortable with stillness and with what cannot readily be grasped. It’s information and facts in a predictable setting that we want. Such an attitude feeds the need to act with power so as to control. Such an attitude also victimizes spirituality; for life, after all, is rooted in uncertainty and not-knowing.

A.A.’s Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, comments on man’s desire to control and to play God. “First of all,” it declares, “we (who are in the program) had to quit playing God.” The next line that follows is noteworthy . . . (because) “It didn’t work.”

What does work to our advantage however — regardless of personal sin and felt lack — is the realization that in a time of need we are more open to the spirit world. For instance, when racked with feelings of abandonment, lostness, doubt, darkness, and strife of every kind we cry out; sometimes we scream.

Feelings of powerlessness are also a power that births the need to journey in search of God, and when God is found to then realize that He has been seeking me too. Ah, suffering. An experience we are always trying to avoid can now be seen as an entrance way for God. For woundedness is a way that takes me beyond the ordinary, into the extraordinary.

Children in their innocence approach spirituality differently. Namely, by way of wonderment. Parents and teachers of religion who seriously take time to teach children, in great part, by sharing their own spirit-filled life automatically stir up wonder in a child.

Wonder is instinctual; it’s easily aroused by stories and sharing. Wonder never really goes away though. Sadly as life advances and becomes more complex wonder is constantly ambushed or covered over with other things. Causing that initial excitement of journeying into the spirit world to be lost in consciousness.

During this Third Week in Lent think about the necessity of working for spiritual awareness so as to gift our Catholic community with ongoing life and uniqueness. Conversely mull over the ways our Catholic faith stimulates and encourages spiritual growth particularly in the worshiping assembly (Mass). For the adventuresome there is the challenge to rediscover spiritual wonder. This entails sitting still and allowing wonder to come to you to so that it can find itself in you . . . because wonder never leaves you.

God bless you. Fr. Jerry

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