What is Spirituality?

The Life of the Holy Spirit within Us?/
A "Master Plan" for Salvation?/
A "Roadmap" to Heaven?/
Our own personal ascetical system?/
Spiritual discipline/ inner coherence?

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The Holy Spirit (depicted in the window of the apsis) dominates the Throne of Saint Peter -
by BERNINI, Gian Lorenzo, from San Pietro, Rome

 

Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do at all -
do it for the glory of God
   (
Corinthians 10:31).

 

What is Spirituality?

from various sources

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The "concept" of Christian Spirituality has not been defined in a precise and univocal way. It is commonly accepted that this "concept" denotes the Christian life of individuals and of communities in a variety of particular expressions in history. These have been based on the teaching of Christ and have been given their form under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The "concept" applies both to the interior development of the spiritual life of the faithful and to the projection of that life in the works they perform. 

 

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes)Teachings of Jesus Christ
                 +
yellowdot.gif (100 bytes)Guidance of the Holy Spirit

}

arrow002.gif (3348 bytes)   "Concept" 

arrow002.gif (3348 bytes)  "Master Plan" 

arrow002.gif (3348 bytes)  "Road Map"

 

Though Christian Spirituality is basically ONE, since it is based on the Gospel, nevertheless it has shown great variations in the ways it has been realized throughout history. These variations derive from the different emphases placed on the many aspects of the Christian life. Thus, for example, the spirituality of the early Christians was notably different from the spirituality of Christians in our time; the spirituality of the Laity differs from that of the Clergy and of the Religious; the spirituality of the Monastic Orders (Benedict, Basil, Gregory) differs from that of the Religious Congregations (Redemptorists, Dominicans, Jesuits) and from that of the Secular Institutes.

Obviously the spirituality of those in religious institutes is determined principally by the spirituality of the founders of those Institutes. But not exclusively: it is determined also by the spirituality of eminent personalities and communities which not infrequently change or modify the spirituality of their predecessors. Other forces which may influence a particular spirituality are the external milieu and the historical processes at work both inside and outside Christianity.

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Spirituality

As said before, this concerns the spiritual life, the life of the Holy Spirit within us. The Spirit of the Living God comes to dwell within us and to lead us to God. Here we have a vertical line constantly coming down to arouse our response to return to Him.

 

History of Spirituality

Here we have a convergence of the two lines, horizontal and vertical. More exactly, the horizontal line of history is brought to life at every moment by the movement of the living God Who comes to live among men and women ("to play with the sons of men" as the Book of Proverbs has it). To this movement of God there corresponds a free movement of men and women who can respond to Him in two ways:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)In setting oneself free from everything which could be an obstacle to the work of God, renouncing the evil forces capable of limiting or annihilating this divine action. It is a combat, a struggle (ascesis) leading to purification.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)In letting oneself be caught up in this movement of return to God, giving oneself to His action through availability, surrender, prayer. This is contemplation.

Ascesis and contemplation are two movements linked together which we will come across constantly.

Asceticism is nothing else than an enlightened method adopted in the observance of the law of God through all the various degrees of service, from the obedience of the ordinary believer to the absorbing devotion of the greatest saint, guiding each in accordance with the measure of grace imparted by the Spirit of Light and Truth. (From the Catholic Encyclopedia)

To study the history of spirituality is then to try to understand the movement of God towards men and women (Alphonsus Liguori, Bernard of Clairvaux, Francis de Sales) and their response to God in the course of history, particularly through the texts which have been handed down to us, texts written by people who have spent their lives close to God or who have written about it. There is no history without texts, and these have been selectively converted to Web Pages herein. These texts will draw for us the moral and spiritual profile of each of these witnesses to God, their response to the action of God, their way of going to God. We are not dealing with something dead as in history pure and simple, but with something very much alive.

All the more alive as the same Spirit Who has fashioned the different spiritual characters of the men and women whom we shall meet, is also within us to help us understand their teaching, the breath of life with which He has endowed them and their writings will transform us with a life-giving touch. It is the Holy Spirit Who will bring us into contact, and even into friendship with these men and women who are always present among us through their writings.

 

angel_01.gif (2832 bytes) Aiming for the Summit in the Spiritual Life

angel_02.gif (2330 bytes) The Call to Sanctity/Holiness/Perfection

angel_01.gif (2832 bytes) The Call to Holiness

angel_02.gif (2330 bytes) The Eucharist - Source and Summit of Christian Spirituality

angel_01.gif (2832 bytes) Salesian Spirituality

angel_02.gif (2330 bytes) Redemptorist Spirituality

angel_01.gif (2832 bytes) Writings of Saint Alphonsus Liguori

angel_02.gif (2330 bytes) Benedictine Spirituality

angel_01.gif (2832 bytes) Ignatian Spirituality

angel_02.gif (2330 bytes) Carmelite Spirituality

angel_01.gif (2832 bytes) Dominican Spirituality

angel_02.gif (2330 bytes) Spiritual Aridity

angel_01.gif (2832 bytes) Spiritual Desolation

angel_02.gif (2330 bytes) The Spiritual Combat

The Spiritual Combat is a famous classic on the strategy for achieving spiritual perfection and salvation. First published in 1589, it was the favorite book of the great Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622), Doctor of the Church and master of the spiritual life; he carried a copy in his pocket for 18 years, read from it every day and recommended it to everyone under his direction.

angel_01.gif (2832 bytes) Spiritual Warfare Prayer

angel_02.gif (2330 bytes) Perpetual Adoration

angel_01.gif (2832 bytes) Answer From the Other Side

angel_02.gif (2330 bytes) Asceticism and the Christian Life

angel_01.gif (2832 bytes) Vocations

angel_02.gif (2330 bytes) Worldliness

angel_01.gif (2832 bytes) Franciscan Reflections

angel_02.gif (2330 bytes) Meditation on the Name of God

angel_01.gif (2832 bytes) Tithing

angel_02.gif (2330 bytes) Giving Thanks - by Father Paul A. Duffner, O.P.

angel_01.gif (2832 bytes) Monica's Wayward Son

angel_02.gif (2330 bytes) Today's Crisis of Faith

angel_01.gif (2832 bytes) What has Become of Sin?

angel_02.gif (2330 bytes) Treatises - by Father John Corapi

angel_01.gif (2832 bytes) Index to Spiritual Warfare Pages