Religion as we know it is dying because technology and science are changing the world dramatically. We live in what is known as the Digital Age. For many, traditional religions no longer meet their spiritual needs. Because humans desire to have a purpose and meaning for living in the world, religion can provide a paradigm or blueprint for living and worshiping. However, religion can also be authoritarian, misogynistic, cultist, and steeped in traditions that may no longer relate to one’s society and life. Religion can also become an obstacle to one’s spiritual well-being. Concepts of worship, prayer, ritual, and morality are usually based on religious scriptures and theologies that can be stagnant, misinterpreted, and disconnected from the latest scholarship and experiences of most people in the 21st century.
For instance, descriptions of “God” as Theistic, Deistic, Pantheistic, Panentheistic, monotheistic, polytheistic, among others, can be dogmatic and unchangeable or can express evolving personal and communal beliefs as well.
A healthy religion leads to a healthy spirituality which nurtures the mind, heart, and soul and creates a life that is full of wonder, awe, and passion which leads to a productive human consciousness. Spirituality is your personal experience of the Sacred open to the Spirit. It exists in an ever growing consciousness of the community of Love throughout the world. Spirituality differs from belief in doctrines, creeds, and beliefs pertinent to any religion of religious cult. Our moral maturity is the result of reason, humanistic values, and spiritual well-being.
Religion and Spirituality
The word religion is a derivative from “religio, a bond or obligation, or “a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance”. So, family traditions, and rituals, artifacts, as well as your own hobbies, talents, and goals contribute to your personal religion. Maintaining the rituals, beliefs, and theology that were part of the positive development of your faith in the Sacred can certainly add to your personal religious identity.
Traditional or institutional religion, like Catholicism, may well need updating or more relevance to the the 21st century but a personal religion is your approach to life based on certain beliefs, values, and virtues which nourish your very being, soul. However, just as the body needs air to breath, our spirituality needs the Spirit of the Sacred. The Spirit causes, motivates, inspires, encourages, impels, triggers, stirs, provokes, stimulates, influences, or activates.
The word spirit is derived from the Hebrew “ruach” and the Greek “pneuma”. Both words signify breath, wind. Grace, or“charis”in Greek, is another word describing the activity of the Spirit. Grace affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech · good will, loving-kindness, Sacred favor.
The Spirit, or the energy and gist of the Sacred enables your human consciousness to journey toward and unite with the Sacred. I believe this was the impetus for Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed and others to preach and teach their insights and new found wisdom.
Journeying toward the Sacred
“It is important to understand the Sacred not as a Being, but as BEING ITSELF, not just as existing, but as EXISTENCE ITSELF. Every being in the universe, every atom, element, galaxy, planet, plant, animal, person, is a creation of EXISTENCE ITSELF. In sum, we exist because EXISTENCE exists.“
“The Sacred is everywhere in the universe because Existence is everywhere in the universe. If Existence was missing from a person or thing, the person or thing would not exist. The universe therefore, can be said to be “saturated” with “God” or the Sacred. Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit anthropologist and theologian said, we live in a “divine milieu.”
“The Sacred is INFINITE OVERFLOWING LOVE. The universe, the world, and we are filled with love. All without exception are the beloved of the Sacred. Spirituality allows you to see everyone as brothers and sisters, arising from one universal, overflowing Love.”
OVERFLOWING LOVE is Threefold: it is CREATIVE, HEALING AND TRANSFORMING.
“With our spiritual consciousness, we see that the universe is made of love. The earth is made of love. The world and everything in it is made of love. Everyone is made of love. Everything is made of love. What is not of LOVE, is not of Sacredness.” Dr. Anthony Massimini, Ph.D.
What about the religion of Catholicism?
You can sustain your Catholic Identity while at the same time dissenting from the hierarchy. This requires a Catholic-Christian approach to conscience, autonomy, freedom, and to community. Your personal religion takes the place of the organized or institutional religion that seems too traditional, stale, and not relevant to the modern world or to your lifestyle and values. Remember, the goal of your personal religion is journeying toward and uniting with the Sacred.
Organized religions are the result of others deciding what to believe and how to make decisions about how to live your life. Such religions are tribal or cults which means that membership requires some sort of acceptance, initiation and indoctrination.
You can heed the advice of Japanese poet Matsuo Basho, “Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought.” We must go beyond tribal or cult like religion toward spiritual well-being.
There is much on this site that may help you shape your own personal religion while keeping your Catholic identity. There is no need to “throw the baby out with the dirty bathwater”. Much about the religion of Catholicism can advance you spiritual well-being and much can be an obstacle to it.
Comments and opinions are welcome but ad hominem reactions and arguments will be deleted.