I was looking at some comments from newly created Cardinal Ferdinando Filoni. In reflecting on the mind of Pope Benedict, the Cardinal said that “the Church is not an end in herself, but that the Church has been willed by Jesus in order that men, knowing the Gospel, can know God.”
The Pope? DOWNPLAYING the role of the Church? How can this be?
Many people say they are interested in “spirituality but not religion.” But what KIND of spirituality? How do you define it? What’s its purpose in your life? What do you do when your spirituality doesn’t seem to be working? Should you just “get a new one” or should you stick out your current “spirituality” as you experience difficult times? How do you know if you’re “getting it right?” (my personal “biggie”).
There are those OUTSIDE of the Church building who criticize the Catholic Church as an institution which has lots of rules, way-to-long devotional practices, boring Masses, poor music, bad homilies, unfriendly people. Yup, we got all that too. And “we need to get better at that” (To quote Phila. Eagles coach, Andy Reid. Sorry, I’m from Philly). There are many voices INSIDE the Church building who wonder where the people, especially the younger people are. Many of the “insiders” see and admire the incredible spiritual interest and heroic public service performed my many of our young people (Just look at the amazing outreach by high school and college students to New Orleans and Mississippi post Katrina, some that is still going on today!)
Cardinal Filoni says, “Spirituality is central in Pope Benedict’s mission.” But spirituality alone doesn’t cut it.
Spirituality should lead to a personal “mission statement.”
The “mission statement” should lead to vocation and animate one’s life (job, hobbies, friendships, marriage partner, political involvement, use of money…)
If your “spirituality-lead-to-lifestyle” works, THEN your story needs to be told to others. (At the risk of sounding “religious,” we call that “proclaiming good news”)
Finally, Filoni says that “Proclamation (then) becomes charity.” As a consequence of my witness to others, I also must become responsible for their needs too.
It’s a matrix; a complex, mysterious, wonderful matrix. But to be effective, it needs to be integrated. A lifelong task.
Interested in spirituality? Fine, begin there. Frankly, that’s “a very good place to start” (To quote Julie Andrews).