June 8, 2006

Spirituality

Paula has a great quote today on one of our most insidious spiritual pitfalls. It is entirely possible to seek God, to seek spirituality, even to seek perfection in the wrong way.

We live in a consumer culture. We are supposed to have all kinds of things: the right clothes, the right car, the right kind of security for the future. It's easy to think of God and spirituality in these terms; God becomes one more thing we are supposed to have and enjoy. And there are plenty of people who are prepared to sell you some spirituality as if it were a commodity to be enjoyed like beer or books.

God is not one more thing, one more good alongside the goods of the world! God is not in competition with the ordinary goods of human life! Anyone with any experience of the ascesis of prayer knows that God will not be possessed like money or things. As soon as we notice and think, "I am having a wonderful spiritual experience," it's gone.

Prayer and spirituality don't get us anything. They don't give us anything we can depend on for security or put on our resume to impress anybody. If anything, real prayer convinces us of our littleness, our insignificance, our natural call to humility. If we aren't greedy for faith or spiritual experiences, we can accept this gratefully because we only need God to be good. We're on our way to learning something about holy poverty.

2 comments:

Paula said...

thanks for your support, Brother Charles.Your comment is in the spirit of the book from where the quote is.:-)

Anonymous said...

Brother:

Your comments about the truth that will be revealed to us through prayer seem to me to be the key insight of many of the saints, and especially Saint Francis. As many saints became holy and more prayerful, they did not become more complacent or confident in their own salvation but only more aware of their sinfulness and their lowliness. This is what attracted people to them.
In a culture where people do not believe that they are sinful, your insight is all the more important. We must focus on our own sinfulness and the many ways in which we displease God. Then and only then can we begin to see how truly sinful we really are. We cannot hope to change the world through our conversion but maybe, just maybe, we will affect someone else with our own ongoing conversion.