Thursday, January 04, 2007Different Spiritualities
Something that is so extraordinary about our Catholic faith is the way that virtually every person can find his or her own niche in the way we worship. Granted our THEOLOGY is the same and our doctrines don't waver... but there is so much room within the Church to really express our beliefs in our own lifestyles.
I look particularly at the various saints throughout time. Many of them had extremely different spiritual paths. What worked for Ignatius of Loyola was very different from Thérese of Liseux. I have spent a lot of time over the years reading various saint books, wanting to imitate their directives for life. I honestly failed at most of them. The Spiritual Exercises of Loyola seemed too intense for my weaklingness. St. Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle was mostly over my head. Then I moved on to St. Francis de Sales Introduction to the Devout Life which was good reading, but didn't really resonate with me. I had read the works of St. Thérese, the Little Flower long ago and again more recently, and while I enjoyed the reading, I still didn't quite fit that noble calling. Close, but not quite. I've also gotten into the prayers of St. Bridget of Sweden and read a little of St. Augustine. Again, good stuff... but I wasn't quite up to par.
Finally, just recently, I've discoved a saint whose spirituality I can make my own too... St. Peter Julian Eymard and his devotions which are primarily geared toward the Blessed Sacrament. Reading his works makes me want to dig inside to find the very best of who I am... who I am called to be and live it fully and with joy and humility and honor.
Some people in our church are called to a path similar to the apostles and their evangelization or defense of the faith. Some are called to a St. Michael type of spirituality... one that isn't talked about much, but is lived with a fierce, quiet love in their work. Some may be asked to be the socially unaccepted and simple lovers of God like St. Francis. Still others are called to find holiness not in the limelight, but in the shadows of the Cross as victim souls... lives filled with suffering and a path scattered with thorns.
I have been to and experienced churches where in some cases, it seems that if one does not fit the cookie cutter of what a "good Christian" is supposed to look, act, and talk like, then something must be deficient in their walk with God. Members of these churches might be confronted by people who try to get them to the "right way" by attending the prayer groups or singing louder in the worship music or by going door to door as missionaries or by publicly discussing their relationship with God. These things can be good for some... but they are not for all. It's tragic if people are made to feel inferior for not expressing their faith in the sociallly correct way for that church.
I praise Him that He is big enough to accomodate for all kinds of characters and understandings and ways to worship Him! All while staying comfortably covered by the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apolstolic umbrella.