Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr Dwight Longenecker

11/29/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The faith does need to come alive and there's nothing wrong with seeking a true and living encounter with Christ

Why is it that among "conservative Catholics" there seems to be so little interest in spirituality? We're big on apologetics. We're big on dogma. We're big on the moral teaching of the church. We're big on the rules, the rubrics, the regulations and the routine.

Tree with roots

Tree with roots

Highlights

By Fr Dwight Longenecker

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/29/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: spirituality, religion, devotion, piety, renewal movement, prayer, meditation, dialogue, contemplation, Fr Dwight Longenecker


GREENVILLE, SC (Catholic Online) - Why is it that among "conservative Catholics" there seems to be so little interest in spirituality? We're big on apologetics. We're big on dogma. We're big on the moral teaching of the church. We're big on the rules, the rubrics, the regulations and the routine.

But I think we're a little bit scared of spirituality. If my hunch is right, then there are some good reasons for it. Over the last fifty years of the revolution in the Catholic Church 'spirituality' has developed a bad reputation. Catechesis which should have focused on doctrine focused on 'relationships' instead. People substituted sentimentality for spiritual direction and relativity for true religion.

Sister Sandals and Father Folkmass wanted to make the faith 'relevant' and so they began to explore Buddhism and labyrinths and "earth religions" and "feminist spiritualities". Spurred on by spurious psychologies they were all about "self discovery" and their favorite mantra became, "The kingdom of God is within you" which they interpreted as "You are the kingdom of God" or "Whatever turns you on baby. That is the kingdom of God."

This was a swing back. They were reacting to a pre-Vatican II Catholic religion that they had experienced as legalistic, harsh and rigid. They were reacting against a religion that seemed to be over sacramentalized and under evangelized. They were reacting against a religion that was highly institutionalized and formally structured. They wanted something good. They wanted their faith to be real and they wanted people to "have an encounter with Christ." They wanted the faith to "come alive"!

The problem is that they were not properly grounded and rooted in real Catholicism. They  went off on some New Age tangent and cut themselves off from the riches of the church. In their attempt to affirm they couldn't resist denying. They couldn't be content to snoop through other religions and spiritual traditions and perhaps glean something from them or allow the other perspective to lighten their way a little. In their enthusiasm they had to throw out what they had, and adopt something totally alien to the Catholic faith.

Consequently those who want to be faithful Catholics have swung back the other way. "Spirituality" is now associated with nuns dressed in overalls and priests in jeans either conducting workshops on "Channelling your Spirit Guide" or "the Wild Man's Journey"-- which means getting naked and howling at the moon in a sweat lodge.

At the same time the "charismatic renewal movement" took Catholics in yet another direction-one which was also subjective, sentimental and suspiciously un-Catholic. Catholics who were not taken over by New Age Nuns and Flakey Friars were captivated by "gifts in the Spirit", "healing ministries" and "signs and wonders".

Still others substituted social activism for spirituality. It was all about justice and peace and making the world a better place. The spirituality of social struggle became their prayer.

No wonder ordinary Catholic became suspicious, and for "spirituality" the conservative Catholic is more likely to resort to the tried and true classic Catholic spiritual writers and devotional practices.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not down on St Francis de Sales or St Louis de Montfort. I'm all for novenas and scapulars and all that good stuff. However, there is also room for a more creative spirituality-a truly Catholic spirituality that is rooted in Scripture, the magisterium and the lives of the saints, and yet is also creative, positive and which connects with ordinary people alive in our world today.

The religious climate being what it is, I suspect that anything new and creative will be met with suspicion by some conservative Catholics. That's okay.

But at the same time, we do need to be open to the Holy Spirit and seek new ways to share not only the apologetical arguments and doctrinal and moral teachings of the church, but also a spirituality that touches people's lives and deepens their commitment to Christ and his church.

The faith does need to come alive and there's nothing wrong with seeking a true and living encounter with Christ. The tragedy is, the more conservative Catholics retreat from this sort of religion and remain suspicious of it, the more we will find ordinary Catholics wandering off to find what they are searching for elsewhere.

Therefore we must help the faithful find that real religion by digging deep and discovering all the riches of the church. A true spirituality is found embedded within the riches of the church. True spirituality is not something we make up, or something we shop for at the spirituality supermarket. Instead we find it as we are immersed in the -the riches of theology, liturgy, music, art and architecture, literature, prayer and poetry, meditation, contemplation.

As we explore these spiritual riches the whole person comes alive in Christ--body, mind and spirit. To drink deep of the whole artistic, historical and learned tradition of the church is to bring refreshment to the deepest part of our being.

It brings our roots rain.

-----

Fr Dwight Longenecker is the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. His latest book is Catholicism Pure and Simple. Visit his blog called Standing on My Head and go to his website to browse his books and make contact.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.



Comments


More Living Faith

No one should be hungry during the Christmas season

Image of

By Tony Magliano

In early December, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) stopped feeding 1.7 million Syrian refugees. For two weeks these poor, battered fellow human beings who had fled the misery of civil war, and the barbarism of the "Islamic State," were told there is no ... continue reading


HAPPY BIRTHDAY POPE FRANCIS! Beloved Pontiff turns 78 today Watch

Image of Happy Birthday, Pope Francis!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY POPE FRANCIS! Today is Pope Francis' 78th birthday and well-wishers celebrated the day singing and dancing for the Holy Father in St. Peter's Square. VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Born on December 17, 1936, the man who would become Pope Francis has ... continue reading


Turned into the wild, Pope Francis offers hope to displaced faithful in Middle East Watch

Image of Patriarch Younan said a major focus of their synod was on priestly formation since their communities have faced so much upheaval.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Times are hard and arduous for those who practice their Catholic faith in the Middle East. In a special audience with Patriarch Ignatius Ephrem Joseph III Younan, along with about 350 of his faithful from the Syriac Catholic Church, Pope Francis offered words ... continue reading


Mary hailed as 'great missionary' who brought Gospel to Americas by Pope Francis Watch

Image of Pope Francis and the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis along with thousands of Catholics from across the Atlantic celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the Vatican. The Pope celebrated Mass to the sounds and rhythms of many of South America's indigenous peoples. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Your Friday Feel Good Story: Watch what happens when the mic goes out during the American National Anthem at a hockey game in Canada! Watch

Image of Ina  heartwarming gesture of respect, Canadians sing the Star Spangled Banner when the microphone game out before a game featuring a team from the USA.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Here's your Friday Feel Good story! Enjoy your Friday and don't forget to share! During a hockey game in Canada between American and Canadian players, the microphone failed, silencing the singer. Without audio, the Americans would be without their national anthem, but ... continue reading


Irenaeus of Lyon on Eve and Mary

Image of An Icon of Ireneaus of Lyon

By Ireneaus of Lyon

The Lord, coming into his own creation in visible form, was sustained by his own creation which he himself sustains in being. His obedience on the tree of the cross reversed the disobedience at the tree in Eden; the good news of the truth announced by an angel to ... continue reading


Taking the Kingdom by Force: Learning from John the Baptizer Watch

Image of The choice is ours. Just as it was with John the Baptizer. He shows us the way to give away our freedom in love - and then find it anew in the One who truly sets us free. (John 8:36). The kingdom of heaven is still being taken by force. The force of love. The Lord is seeking men and women in this hour who will take the kingdom by force like John the Baptizer.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

John the Baptizer was a man of Joy because he was a man of true humility! Humility is a powerful weapon when wielded by a soldier of love like John. He was a man who understood that life wasn't all about him. He emptied himself willingly and was thus able to ... continue reading


Faith restored in humanity! A random act of kindness changes a woman's life forever during the Christmas season Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While protests are wreaking havoc all around the world, wars are being fought, and people are being brutally killed, the warm sensation and fuzzy feeling of Christmas gets overshadowed. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Although good deeds and random acts of kindness ... continue reading


Do We Really Believe in the Resurrection of the Body and the Life of the World to Come? Watch

Image of Seated at the right hand of the Father, he works unceasingly in the world, to draw men into the Church and through it to join them more closely to himself.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord. His salvation is offered extended to all men and women. That salvation is not only about our souls, but about the whole human person. It will only be complete when we are raised from the dead and dwell in the kingdom to come. He ... continue reading


A Christmas gift for suffering South Sudan

Image of The people of South Sudan have the same feeling and love for one another we do. Now is the time for us to extend our arms in compassion.

By Tony Magliano

The world's newest nation is in big trouble. After more than 20 years of civil war between the southern and northern areas of Sudan, the southern part of that country on July 9, 2011, became the independent nation of the Republic of South Sudan.But the situation on the ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 18th, 2014 Image

St. Rufus
December 18: Rufus and Zosimus were citizens of Antioch (or perhaps Philippi) ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter