What is Spirituality?
Spirituality is something intimate & personal. It usually comes to us through our families, traditions and experiences. It reflects our deepest beliefs and values. It affects our relationships with ourselves, other people, the natural world and God. Spirituality is a process of growth toward personal authenticity in relation to myself, others and God. Thus, it is trinitarian in nature.
Our spirituality is something we bring to our personal & professional lives including your work, the people we live with & the wider environment around us. Spirituality is how we live.
The spiritual life is not a life after or beyond our everyday existence. No, the spiritual life can only be real when it is lived in the midst of the pains, joys and boredom of the here-and-now world as we experience it.
“Authentic spirituality is verified by a down-to-earth love of neighbor.”
Theresa of Avila
Spirituality is wider than any one religion or belief system. It represents what is at the core of a reflective person’s life. Within the Christian context, there are traditions that can help us toward deepening our relationship with God, other people and ourselves. Some of these spiritual guides can be found in
- the Desert Fathers and Mothers
- the Benedictine tradition
- the Carmelite tradition especially in Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross
- the Jesuit Way of St. Ignatius Loyola
The Spirituality of St. Ignatius Loyola
The spiritual tradition of Ignatius Loyola – as expressed in his Spiritual Exercises – wants to help people to get to inner freedom so that they can choose their lives accordingly to God’s invitation and to service others. The Spiritual Exercises serves as a way for people to life more authentically in relationship to Jesus of Nazareth and to get rid of ways of thinking or behaviors that keep them in some form of bondage. Thus, the Ignatian tradition is placed in the context of one’s freedom to grow into a fuller human life that reflects the values of the Risen Jesus Christ.
The primary focus of the Ignatian tradition is one’s personal prayer experience and one’s relationship with God, others and one’s self. The main point for Ignatius is that God is active and available to people who develop the proper attitudes of self-awareness, ability to speak about their experience and a willingness to let God enter into their lives (Sp Ex. 15). Thru “four weeks” – actually four movements – Ignatius’ Exercises lead a person to own their human experience, develop a closer friendship with the Risen Christ, and are committed to living in ways that help the Kingdom of God become more real in everyday life. The end of the Exercises is a felt awareness that a man or woman is actively invited by God into God’s healing activity in the world.