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'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Living Faith

Group of Christians spontaneously perform outside movie theater to inspire 'War Room' viewers Watch

Image of A group gathers to join in the worship at North Carolina's Concord Mills movie theater.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

One Christian leader group was so inspired by the release of the movie War Room that they decided to flood the atrium of a local mall in Charlotte, North Carolina with Christian music and a lively performance. MUNTINLUPA CITY, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - War Room, ... continue reading


Pilgrimage with Pope Francis - FOURTH STATION - St. Anne, patron of grandparents and single women

Image of Saint Anne, pray for us!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Welcome to the fourth station on our virtual pilgrimage to Philadelphia with Pope Francis ahead of the World Meeting of Families. Let us pray! About St. AnneSaint Anne is the grandmother of Jesus Christ and mother to the Virgin Mary. Very little is known about her, but ... continue reading


'I hope the Pope can sing along!' Washington D.C. choir looks forward to Pope's U.S. visit Watch

Image of

By Adelaide Mena, CNA/EWTN News

Choir members from around the Washington, D.C. archdiocese chosen to sing for Pope Francis during his visit later this month hope to stir the soul of the pontiff - and maybe even inspire him to sing along. Washington D.C. (CNA/EWTN News) - "Our purpose is to ... continue reading


Pope Francis beseeches world to give thanks and protect all life on Day of Creation Watch

Image of Pope Francis had announced last month that the Catholic Church would join the Orthodox Church in marking the prayer day September 1 each year.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

During an evening celebration of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Pope Francis prayed that God would "enlighten the lords of power and money so they would not fall into indifference, but would love the common good, encourage the weak and care ... continue reading


SSPX confessions valid during Jubilee, Pope Francis declares - many pray schism will end Watch

Image of Pope Francis has extended an olive branch to the SSPX. Will our brothers and sisters accept it, or will they perceive it as a slight?

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Absolutions granted by priests of the Fraternity of St. Pius X (SSPX) will have the full support of the Pope Francis and the Church during the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. The notice was given by Pope Francis in a special letter in which he announced the ... continue reading


POPE FRANCIS ISSUES EXTRAORDINARY INDULGENCE - Here's how you and others can obtain it Watch

Image of Pope Francis has issued an extraordinary indulgence for all who seek to reconcile with God.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis is issuing a Jubilee Indulgence that he hopes will allow people to experience God's mercy and grace. In preparation for the coming Jubilee, Pope Francis has published a letter to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, who heads his council for the promotion of the ... continue reading


Priest asks, what would St. Francis of Assisi do if he were alive today? Watch

Image of Although Pope Francis presided over the celebration, Fr. Cantalamessa (who has been preacher to the Papal Household since St. John Paul II appointed him in 1980) gave the homily.

By Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News

On the first World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, the preacher to the papal household said that St. Francis of Assisi is a key model in showing the link between faith in God and care for our common home. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - Saint Francis "is ... continue reading


No school days for working children

Image of

By Tony Magliano

It's that time again when adults take off to celebrate Labor Day, and kids head back to the adventures a new school year. But for millions of children worldwide the adventures of a new school year remain but a dream. Sadly, these children will never learn to read or ... continue reading


Catholic lawmakers asked by Pope to rally for pro-life, immigrants and persecuted Christians Watch

Image of The Holy Father was presented with a document by lawmakers outlining their commitment to promoting life in their respective nations, especially in areas of abortion, Christian persecution, and migration.

By Ann Schneible, CNA/EWTN News

On Sunday, Pope Francis urged Catholic legislators to be protectors of human life, calling them to "be strong" against a throwaway culture marked by Christian persecution, and the rejection of the unborn and migrants. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - The pontiff ... continue reading


Will Pope Francis' visit end in disaster? Residents say organizers don't have their act together Watch

Image of Mayor Nutter unveils the 'I'll Be There' campaign to encourage shop owners to stay open during the papal visit.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Philadelphia residents are stressing over the upcoming Papal visit, and for good reason. Preparations for the visit appear ad hoc and are being poorly communicated to the community, according to locals. LOA ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Will Pope Francis' visit to ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Colossians 1:9-14
9 That is why, ever since the day he told us, we have ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 98:2-3, 3-4, 5-6
2 Yahweh has made known his saving power, revealed ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 5:1-11
1 Now it happened that he was standing one day by the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 3rd, 2015 Image

Pope Saint Gregory the Great
September 3: St. Gregory, born at Rome about the year 540, was the son of ... 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