Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr Dwight Longenecker

11/29/2012 (1 year 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 (1 year 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 August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Living Faith

What Pope Francis said to make millions think again about abortion Watch

Image of On Saturday, August 16, 2014, during the apostolic visit to Korea, Pope Francis made a loud statement. However, he did not use words. He did not have to. His prophetic action brought to mind a saying attributed to his namesake, Francis of Asisi - I preach the Gospel at all times, but sometimes I use words.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

When Francis began his service from the chair of Peter, much hoopla filled the media about some alleged softening in the opposition of the Catholic Church to what are dismissively referred to as complicated "moral issues" such as abortion. Sadly, even some in the ... continue reading


DEAR CATHOLIC ONLINE: Keep it free, keep it going

Image of Keep it free, keep it live.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online is heavily invested in bringing you world class news delivered from the Catholic perspective. This service is provided for free and we intend for it to remain free for the foreseeable future. However, it comes at a cost and right now, we need each ... continue reading


You Go Into the Vineyard Too! Every Baptized Christian Has a Vocation and Mission Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Church is a seed, sign and beginning of the kingdom, making the kingdom present in a world which is wounded by the effects of sin but waiting to be born anew. The Lord continues His work through us. We are the workers in His vineyard. It matters little what ... continue reading


Friendly overtures to Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) met with mixed response Watch

Image of LCWR presidents welcome the approximately 750 members to the assembly.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, or LCWR is comprised of Catholic women religious who are leaders of their orders in the United States. The group represents about 80 percent of the 51,600 women religious in the U.S. However, relations between the ... continue reading


POPE: 'It is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor' Watch

Image of Pope Francis said that

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Answering a wide array of questions, which included the proper response to the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities by fundamentalists of the Islamic State in Iraq, Pope Francis said that "it is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor." ... continue reading


POPE IN SOUTH KOREA: 'Peace is not simply the absence of war, but the work of justice' Watch

Image of Pope Francis told 200 South Korean government officials that the two Koreas, halved between North and South since the end of the Korean War in 1953,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis, in his first trip to Asia, addressed South Korean political and civic leaders and encouraged them to stay on a steady course towards social justice and democracy. "Peace is not simply the absence of war, but the work of justice," the Pope said in ... continue reading


Will Suffering, Struggle, Failure and Pain Make us Bitter or Better? Watch

Image of Because of his close communion with Jesus Christ, the Risen One who had called him in the desert, Paul cultivated an interior strength which made it possible for him to walk through the pain, to even embrace the pain, and to experience failure itself as a path to the Cross where he found comfort in the wounded side of Jesus the Savior.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

St. Paul was an extraordinary man and an extraordinary Christian. An Apostle, raised up out of the ordinary course, he accomplished great things for the Lord as he eagerly responded to His calling to build the Church and, through her, to help change the world. A ... continue reading


The Assumption: The Virgin Mary goes before us in the Order of Grace Watch

Image of

By Deacon F. K. Bartels

What God has promised on the last day for those he loves, he has already accomplished in the Virgin Mary. Let us turn to Mary and love her as our spiritual Mother in the order of grace; let us open our hearts to her Immaculate Heart, that she may illuminate her ... continue reading


The Assumption or Dormition of the Mother of the Lord: What Does It Mean? Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

This event is a part of the naturally supernatural  progression in the life of the Blessed Virgin of Nazareth. Her Yes, her Fiat of surrendered love, brought heaven to earth. This exercise of her human freedom, responding to the invitation of God, as sent through ... continue reading


Making bad situations worse in the Middle East

Image of Only by following the non-violent Christ can our world that seems so steeped in violence be converted.

By Tony Magliano

The heart wrenching tragedies throughout the Middle East are not the United States' fault, that is, at least not entirely. The fact that many Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims distrust each other, that the Allies established artificial national boundaries to suite their ... 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, Ezekiel 43:1-7
1 He took me to the gate, the one facing ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
9 His saving help is near for those who fear him, his ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 23:1-12
1 Then addressing the crowds and his disciples Jesus ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 23rd, 2014 Image

St. Philip Benizi
August 23: Servite cardinal and preacher. Born in Florence, Italy, to a ... 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