Spirituality and the Spiritually Mature Person
If the faith of a child does not develop into the faith of an adult, it can result in a view of religion that is childish, outmoded, and of no influence in adult life. We see this today in people who bring to their individual lives, work, businesses, professions, and politics, a faith they learned as a child. In every sense, it’s a mismatch. Bernard Lonergan, S. J
Spirituality is our personal experience of God in our every life. It is living everyday
in an ever growing consciousness of the presence of Sacred Oneness-in-Love throughout the world.
Spirituality differs from our dogmatic maturity as we deepen our belief in the teachings of the Church, and from our moral maturity as we obey the moral laws of the church.
To begin, it is important to understand God 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.
God 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. Teilhard de Chardin said, we live in a “divine milieu.”
Finally and of greatest importance, God is INFINITE OVERFLOWING LOVE. The universe, the world, and we are filled, with l love. All without exception are the beloved of God. Spirituality sees everyone as brothers and sisters, arising from one universal, overflowing Love.
OVERFLOWING LOVE is Threefold: it is CREATIVE, (Father) HEALING AND REDEEMING, (Son/Christ), WORLD TRANSFORMING AND EVOLVING (Holy Spirit.
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. Every one is made of love. Everything is made of love. God hates only that which contradicts love.
ACTIVE, PRACTICAL SPIRITUALITY
Spirituality is active and practical. It is the way we live our daily lives, as we work to fulfill Jesus’ prayer, “Thy kingdom come…on earth.” Spirituality moves and guides us toward creating a world of ever greater wholeness in love.
The secular world is God’s created world of space/time. Contrary to popular belief it is sacred. Everything and everything is sacred. The opposite of secular is not sacred, it is profane, i.e., an abuse of the sacred. By our egotism, greed, wars, etc., we make our abuse our sacred world and make it profane.
We are called and empowered to lovingly build up up this world, i.e., ourselves, families, communities, education, politics, economics, sciences, arts, etc., aiming to make them ever more loving, just, peaceful, joyful, etc., in sum, making them more luminously human in the grace of Christ. (Cf. the page,”The Spiritual Disciplines” in this blog.) This call and empowerment is our vocation.
The Kingdom of God on earth will never be fully achieved. The weeds will always grow alongside the wheat. Our focus is to “grow the wheat” as well as we can, and leave the results to God.
EVERYDAY MYSTICS AND PROPHETSSpirituality calls and empowers us to be:
a. Everyday Mystics:
A mystic is a person of faith who can see what is hidden from atheists and agnostics, We can discern God’s presence and intentions within ourselves, and within today’s society and culture, i.e., we can spiritually “read signs of the times” and discern how God’s wants us to work to build God’s Kingdom on Earth in and for today’s society and culture.
Our individual discernment of God’s presence and intentions determines our personal vocation. We also discern our vocations in terms of our age, gender, race, national origin, culture, personality, history, talents, opportunities, etc. All of these are parts of our call from God.
We discern our individual vocations within the one Catholic Faith. We must be wary of people who claim to have private, exclusive vocations that call them to act in an improper or dangerous way.
A prophet is someone who proclaimsand applieswhat he/she discerns.
As everyday prophets, we humbly, peacefully and lovingly work to elevateourselves and our society and culture, in order to make ourselves and our culture more luminously human and loving in the grace of Christ.
c. Sharers in Christ’s royal office,
We also are called and empowered to humbly, peacefully and lovingly work to correct and heal ourselves, our society and culture in Christ’s self-giving, healing and saving grace.
Since we can easily mistake our own cultural or personal preferences for God’s intentions, we cannot walk our spiritual journey alone. We walk together with all the other members of our faith, and with all people of good will.
Besides growing spiritually by following the Spiritual Disciplines, we mature even more by following the Beatitudes, i.e., Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, he merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted for the sake of righteousness. (Mt. 5:3-10.)
THE SPIRITUALLY MATURE PERSON
We are spiritually mature in community
Here we have to be very conscious of our cultural preference for individuality. Yes, we are individual, even unique persons. But we are individual, unique persons within the human community. We cannot separate ourselves from the community–family, local, national, world, nature–without contradicting our very humanity.
It is impossible to understand a person who is not deeply related to all other people, and to animals, plants, the soil, sky, climate, etc.
While it is possible to walk our spiritual way alone, it is better to walk our way with a companion or companions.
God calls us to our fulfillment not from the past from from the future into the future. We don’t forget the past but build on it as we work to transcend our present self–no matter how old we are–and work to evolve into an ever new self of deeper meaning, justice, peace, joy of life, and overall wholeness in love.
Spiritually mature persons see beyond themselves and see and live within the big picture, the whole picture. They see with a lively consciousness of the whole, which is love. They take an active, respectful part in the local community, national community, world community, ecological community, and universal community. (Think of narrow minded politicians who put their jobs, or their party, over the good of the community they represent.)
Spiritually mature persons fulfill themselves and their own individual fullness and integrity by reaching beyond their own limitations and views and considering the views and needs of others. They work to fit everyone and everything into the picture in justice, peace and love, respecting each individual within the universal picture, and paying special attention to the poor, sick, vulnerable and outcast.
Spiritually mature persons know that the ultimate source and goal of unity and wholeness in love is God, who is present and active within the entire evolving community of the world, calling the world forward from the future.
The spiritual mature person is not naive. We will never achieve heaven on earth. the wheat and the weeds will grow side by side until the end of our space/time existence.
Spiritually Mature Persons Live with a Spirit of Detachment
Spiritually mature persons live in deep, active engagement with others and nature,along with the ability to let go when necessary.
Jesus told the rich young man to sell all his goods and give the money to the poor (Mt. 19) because he saw that the young man was attached to his wealth. He was identifying himself by his wealth. If he asked himself, “Who am I?” he would respond, “I am a rich young man.” Jesus wanted him to detach himself from such a false and harmful self-identification and find his true self, which he could find only by letting go of his attachment and identifying himself as a child and image of God, and following Jesus–thus finding his true self.
It is morally acceptable–and necessary–to have money as long as we are not attached to it and to the things it can brings.
Spiritually mature persons also work to help people detach themselves from harmful, disintegrating communities, e.g., racist or sexist communities, destructive political communities, militant communities, communities of the rich against the poor, etc.
Spiritually Mature Persons Accept the Inevitable Suffering
We Christians are not masochists. We do not seek suffering and death, but seek relief, solace or medical treatment when we need them.
Spiritually mature persons accept life’s inevitable losses, setbacks, sickness, growing old, and death. They let unavoidable pain be pain, and they evolve and mature spiritually–not despite the pain and suffering that come into every life, but in and through their inevitable pain and suffering. Thus they are able to gain strength and new life from their suffering, just as Jesus gave us new life through his suffering and death.
Spiritually Mature Persons Use Their Imagination
Spiritual transformation and advancement begins with imagination. Spiritually mature persons imagine new ways to transcend their present selves and find new ways to help our world evolve into new levels of love as we help move the world toward wholeness in love.
Imagination leads to intention.
Spiritually Mature Persons Activate Their Power of IntentionIntention may be described as a purposeful plan to perform an action, which will lead to a desired outcome. (Author, Lynn McTaggart) Intention strengthens our coherence with one another. Intention must come from our deepest self, where we are one in love with everyone and everything. Intention is the fruit of contemplation and does not come merely from the ego. Intention leads to commitment and to action.
Spiritually Mature Persons are Persons of Commitment and Action
Spiritually mature persons are “everyday prophets,” i. e., they act on what God leads them to discern, and then they knowledgeably, peacefully and lovingly work to elevate our society and culture. Where necessary, they also knowledgeably, peacefully, humbly and lovingly act to correct our society and culture, to make us all more luminously human and loving in the creative, healing and world-transforming love and grace of Christ.
They actively live the Spiritual Disciplines. (See the “Spiritual Disciplines” page on this blog.)
Spiritually Mature Persons are Persons of Prayer, Mediation and Contemplation
Prayer, Meditation and Contemplation are discussed on their own page of this blog.
by Anthony T. Massimini, Ph.D. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org