Authentic Christian Spirituality to me is a daily practice of reading, prayer,
meditation and contemplation. Where your experiences are centered on God though his son
Jesus Christ. You need to learn about Jesus and his teachings, to participate on a daily basis
and to be conscience of the happenings and doings of Jesus. Once you learn this you need to
model your life after this knowledge that you have acquired. I see the Christian Spirituality
as a journey of life that will end with the unity of God. The book "Christian Spirituality" has
offered many suggestions for one to become in tune with his or her own spirituality. The book
educates you on the spiritual journey by calling your attention to people that are the hearers
and doers of the word, what the spiritual journey is, about prayer, meditation and
contemplation, asceticism, mysticism, solitude, friendship and the Eucharist.
Hearers and doers of the Word are those people that have written books or that have
lived the word of God. In a spiritual journey one should look at the works of these people in
order to gain insight an knowledge. There are the church fathers such as St. Augustine,
Aelred of Rievaulx, and Clement of Rome. There are also many spiritual writers that offer
insights such as John of the Cross, and Thomas Merton. There is also the Bible that will
offer insights into the teachings of Jesus. The hearers and doers of the Word can help to
develop a person's spirituality by allowing insight on what others have seen and done, more
like developing a discipleship to follow the word of God.
The spiritual journey can been seen in stages of a person's life through the sacraments:
baptism, confirmation, eucharist, reconciliation, and the anointing of the sick. Or as noted by
the Second Vatican Council the church is seen as a "pilgrim people". Meaning that we are
still learning on our journey to know Jesus. Whichever way you see the spiritual journey it is
important that you realize that the journey can be difficult at times or feel as thought it has
slowed down. Our experiences should teach us and make us look towards God. It is good to
know that we are not alone when we are making our journey. There are people/friends that
can help to encourage us, or an author's works which can enlighten us to keep up our journey
to a spiritual life.
Prayer is an important part in the road to a healthy spiritual life. I have learned that
prayer has meaning and is the connection to God. Prayer is the belief in faith.
There are many ways that you can pray. Praying with the Bible, making everyday life a
prayer, you can make meditation and prayer a daily activity, that involves quiet reflective
time. Prayer helps you to sense the presence of God, to call upon Him in a time a need, to
petition to Him, to thank Him, and to adore Him. Praying is also a time to listen to what
God may have to say to.
Meditation is where the mind is focused on a single point of reference. It is where you
are invoking the grace of God. It is a means of attaining a conscious union with God through
the use of a prayer. In a basic sense it is a time where you become quite and experience God's
presence. A time to bask in God's love or adoration, in other words contemplation.
Meditation and contemplation is the search for God.
Asceticism allows one to reach a higher spiritual state by using self-discipline and
self-denial. This is accomplished by doing certain practices such as fasting, voluntary
celibacy, praying or a life of charity to mention a few. These practices are the means to a
greater end. An example is prayer and fasting as a way to get rid of evil. Asceticism is seen
as a path or training so that the outcome equals a better Christian life. Asceticism also draws
into prayer, meditation and contemplation so that you hear God speaking to you, therefore
you become closer to God.
The mystical experience is an encounter with God. The book describes it as "an
embrace of one's humanity, a humanity that finds its fulfillment in living more consciously in
the presence of God."(pg. 124) Some mystics that may be of interest are
Bernard of Clairvaux, Hildegard and Julian Norwich. These authors have written of their
experiences with God and the transformations that they have gone through. The reading of
the mystics can help one to live in the presence of God.
Solitude is time for reflection. Solitude is a time to become in tune with yourself and
God. Once you have had this time of solitude you are more in tune to take back to
the community what you may have felt or learned. The book sums up the idea by saying
"Quiet times, some silence, some time alone is necessary for everyone who seeks sanity and
holiness. Moreover, the search for God and the discernment of important decisions in life
require reflection and prayer that only solitude makes possible."(pg. 160)
Friendship is important for a good life. Friendship allows a person to share ideas,
feelings and conversations. In brief friendship and friends, as stated by Aristotle is "needed
for happiness, and they help each other become virtuous" therefore, "virtue and happiness
make society a community, not a collection of individuals."(pg. 168) Friendships will help to
enlighten us as a person because of the sharing done between people.
Lastly, the Eucharist is the celebration of Christianity. The Eucharist is seen as the
necessary factor to bring the spiritual life to it's peak. The Eucharist is the worshipping of the
triune of God. It is a time to listen to the word of God, rejoice in the presence of God, to
accept and love thy neighbor, to accept the blood and body of Jesus Christ and then carry out
the message of the Holy Spirit.
In summary, you can see that the definition of spirituality is not one solid definition.
Spirituality has different meanings to everyone. Above only summarizes a small portion of
what encompasses the meaning of spirituality. With practice, devotion, and discovery one
can come to understand the meanings of spirituality and become closer to God by doing so.