Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

Spirituality

“You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Definition

Spirituality is the human response to the restlessness that God has placed in the heart of each of us at creation. It describes the depth of the relationship a person has with God. Said another way, spirituality constitutes one’s life of faith.
  • Individual spirituality is the result of one’s efforts to channel this restlessness through the disciplines and habits we choose to live by. It is deepened when we strive to bring ourselves closer to God through conversation with God, and through a realization that God desires for us to be close to Him. Good things flow out from this to others in the form of community and a greater desire for peace and social justice.
  •  Spirituality is possible through the action of the spirit of God who dwells within all of us. That is why we speak of a spiritual journey which involves an inner movement followed by a reaching out to others in the community.
  • Lay Spirituality promotes in some the desire to participate in lay leadership and lay ministry through a commitment to dialog, prayer, and a desire to bring others closer to God. 

History

Since ancient times, human beings experienced an inner urge to converse with, and to listen to the “God” in their lives. Jesus, himself, entered into his Jewish culture’s spirituality and established a deep personal relationship with God, whom he called “Abba.”. We enter into a Judeo-Christian spirituality based on Jewish and Christian scripture and tradition. As Jesus said: “My mother and my brothers are those who ponder the word of God and act on it.” Luke 8:21.

Resources

     Books (listed alphabetically by title)
  • A Testament of Devotion by Thomas Kelly (HarperOne 1996)
    ​Since its first publication in 1941, A Testament of Devotion by the renowned Quaker teacher Thomas Kelly has been universally embraced as an enduring spiritual classic. Plainspoken and deeply inspirational, it gathers together five compelling essays that urge us to center our lives on God's presence, to find quiet and stillness within modern life, and to discover the deeply satisfying and lasting peace of the inner spiritual journey. to that highest of all human arts-the lifelong conversation between God and God’s creatures
  • Christian Spirituality--Themes from the Tradition by Lawrence S. Cunningham and Keith Egan (Paulist Press, 1996)
    Christian Spirituality is a concise and accessible overview of the ways Christians over the centuries have approached God in prayer and practice. In ten chapters, Lawrence Cunningham and Keith Egan explain the dynamics of spiritual life, each chapter exploring a single theme such as scripture, journeying, meditation & contemplation, asceticism, mysticism, solitude & community, friendship, and Eucharist.
  • Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor by L. Boff, (Orbis Books 1997)
    The volume represents Leonardo Boff's most systematic effort to date to link the spirit of liberation theology with the urgent challenge of ecology. Focusing on the threatened Amazon of his native Brazil, Boff traces the ties that bind the fate of the rain forests with the fate of the Indians and the poor of the land. In this book, readers will find the keys to a new, liberating faith.
  • Everyday Simplicity: a Practical Guide to Spiritual Growth by Robert Wicks (Sorin Books, 2000)
    Everyday Simplicity helps us better recognize the everyday gestures of God and discover an inner peace and joy we can share with others. Wicks describes a spiritual life readily accessible to everyone. It requires opening our eyes, appreciating our lives as they are now, and developing a true sense of ourselves in the image and likeness of God. Wicks provides a clear explanation of how to develop this deeply-anchored inner life through his "little rule of prayer" -- a set of practices that helps us broaden and deepen our spirituality.
  • Francis and Clare: The Complete Works by Regis Armstrong (Paulist Press 2002)
    Writing in the preface to this volume, John Vaughn, Minister General of the Friars minor, sums up the relevance of Francis's and Clare's vision for today: “[It] Calls us to revitalizes our lives and those of others, and indeed to renew the very life of the Church in these times of crisis.”
  • Joy Unspeakable; Contemplative Practice of the Black Church, by Barbara Holmes. 2nd Edition. (Augsburg Fortress Publishers 2017) 
    Joy Unspeakable focuses on the aspects of the black church that point beyond particular congregational gatherings toward a mystical and communal spirituality not within the exclusive domain of any denomination. This mystical aspect of the black church is deeply implicated in the well-being of African American people but is not the focus of their intentional reflection. Moreover, its traditions are deeply ensconced within the historical memory of the wider society and can be found in Coltrane's riffs, Malcolm's exhortations, the social activism of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama
  • Light from Light: An Anthology of Christian Mysticism by L. Dupre (Paulist Press 2001)
    In this revised edition of a longtime best selling anthology of Christian mysticism, editors Louis Dupré and James Wiseman bring together selections from the writings of 23 of the most important Christian mystics, from Origen of Alexandria in the third century to Thomas Merton in the twentieth.
  • Loaves and Fishes: The Inspiring Story of the Catholic Worker Movement by Dorothy Day (Orbis Books Reprint 1997) 
    Marking the centenary of Dorothy Day’s birth in 1897, this new edition of Loaves and Fishes makes a modern religious classic available to a new generation. A companion to her autobiography, The Long Loneliness, this is Day’s frank and compelling account of 30 years as leader of the Catholic Worker Movement and editor of its newspaper. Blending a journalist’s perceptions with emotional commitment and humor, she shares experiences amid the abandoned and impoverished, the hopeful and idealistic. In the process, she brings to life a host of remarkable personalities, and reveals a life of faith in action. A unique document of American social history, Loaves and Fishes offers powerful testimony to the faith of a woman dedicated to improving the lot of all people and creating a viable alternative to the growing ills of a chaotic world.
  • Meditations of the Heart by Howard Thurman (Beacon Press 2003)
    ​This is a beautiful collection of meditations and prayers by one of our greatest spiritual leaders. Howard Thurman, the great spiritualist and mystic, was renowned for the quiet beauty of his reflections on humanity and our relationship with God. The collection of 54 of his most well-known meditations features his thoughts on prayer, community, and the joys and rituals of life. Within this collection are words that sustain, elevate, and inspire. Thurman addresses those moments of trial and uncertainty and offers a message of hope and endurance for people of all faiths.
  • Memories of God: Theological Reflections on a Life by Roberta Bondi (Abingdon Press 1995) 
    Bondi discovered that what she had regarded as her personal, private stories were not really so private or idiosyncratic after all when seen in the intersection of her beliefs, family experience, and cultural expectations. We are drawn into theological reflection on the stories of one woman only to discover there our own stories, our own memories, all stored in the memory of God.
  • Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life by Henri Nouwen (Doubleday, 1986) 
    Nouwen views our spiritual "ascent" as evolving in three movements. The first, from loneliness to solitude, focuses on the spiritual life as it relates to the experience of our own selves. The second, from hostility to hospitality, deals with our spiritual life as a life for others. The final movement, from illusion to prayer, offers penetrating thoughts on the most mysterious relationship of all: our relationship to God.
  • Resting on the Future: Catholic Theology for an Unfinished Universe by John R. Haught (Bloomsbury Academic 2015) Science has now demonstrated that we live in an "unfinished universe.” Discoveries in geology, biology, cosmology, and other fields of scientific inquiry have shown that the cosmos has a narrative character and that the story is far from over. The sense of a universe that is still coming into being provides a fertile new framework for thinking about the relationship of faith to science. John F. Haught argues that if we take seriously the fact that the universe is a drama still unfolding, we can think new thoughts about God, and about all the perennial themes of theology.
  • Santo!: Varieties of Latina/o Spirituality by E.D. Aponte (Orbis Books 2012) 
    An overview of Latino/a spiritualities today—Protestant, Catholic, Pentecostal, and non-Christian—and the challenges they bring to Christian theology and ministry. Given the context of increasing religious pluralism and rising interest in religions, religiosity, and spirituality within the United States and the knowledge that by the mid-21st century an estimated 100 million Americans will claim Latin origin, an understanding of the varieties of Latino/a spirituality becomes essential.
  • Spirituality: A Brief History by P. Sheldrake (2nd edition) (Wiley-Blackwell 2010)
    Written by one of the world’s leading scholars in this field, this comprehensively revised edition tells the story of Christian spirituality from its origins in the New Testament up to the present day, showing how and why spirituality has changed and developed over the centuries.
  • The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks by Benedicta Ward (Revised edition (Penguin Classics 2003) 
    The Desert Fathers were the first Christian monks, living in solitude in the deserts of Egypt, Palestine, and Syria. In contrast to the formalized and official theology of the "founding fathers" of the Church, they were ordinary Christians who chose to renounce the world and live as celibates with fasting, vigil, prayer, and poverty as a direct and simple response to the gospel. First recorded in the fourth century, their Sayings—consisting of spiritual advice, anecdotes, parables, and reflections on life—influenced the rule of St. Benedict, set the pattern for Western monasticism, and inspired centuries of poetry, opera, and art.
  • The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality by Ronald Rolheiser (Doubleday 1999)
    In The Holy Longing, Ronald Rolheiser probes the question “What is spirituality?”—cutting through the misunderstanding and confusion that can often surround this subject with his trademark clarity. Using examples and stories relevant for today, and with great sensitivity to modern challenges to religious faith, he explains the essentials of spiritual life, including the importance of community worship, the imperatives surrounding social action, and the centrality of the Incarnation, to outline a Christian spirituality that reflects the yearning and search for meaning at the core of the human experience.
  • The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation by Thomas Merton (Harper One 2004)
    Never before published except as a series of articles (one per chapter) in an academic journal, this book on contemplation was revised by Merton shortly before his death. The material bridges Merton's early work on Catholic monasticism, mysticism, and contemplation with his later writing on Eastern (especially Buddhist) traditions of meditation and spirituality. The book thus provides a comprehensive understanding of contemplation that draws on the best of Western and Eastern traditions.
  • The Place of the Heart: An Introduction to Orthodox Spirituality by S. Benedict & P. Books (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press 2011) 
    This book becomes a meeting with contemporary West since so many of the spiritual masters referred to are jointly venerated by both east and West. There are meetings, exchanges and points of convergence here with the West, after a thousand-year estrangement. Orthodox spirituality is presented as a dynamic process, rather than one only of historical expression. It provides the hope of a true and durable meeting of separated Christians.

  • The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love by Ilia Delio (Orbis Books 2013) 
    The award-winning author of Christ in Evolution and The Emergent Christ breaks new ground with this capstone in a trilogy that opens our eyes to the everywhere active, all powerful, all intelligent Love that guides and directs our awareness of interrelatedness and interbeing.

  • What a Friend We Have in Jesus: The Evangelical Tradition by Ian Randall. (Orbis Books 2005) 
    Evangelical spirituality, with roots in the revivals of the 18th century, is not confined to a simple church or denomination. Its overriding theme, as reflected in the hymn cited above, is the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus. Yet this personal experience has had broad implications for service and action in the world.     

     Websites
  • The mission of the Center for Action and Contemplation is to open the door for a critical mass of spiritual seekers to experience the transformative wisdom of the Christian contemplative tradition and nurture its emergence in service to the healing of our world.
  • Spirituality and Practice are the two places where all the world's religions and spiritual paths come together. While respecting the differences among traditions, we celebrate what they share in common. We affirm interconnectedness and oneness as the true nature of reality. We acknowledge the active presence of Spirit in all aspects of everyday life.
  • IgnatianSpirituality.com is a service of Loyola Press, a ministry of the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). It offers information on and experiences of Ignatian spirituality from Jesuit and Ignatian sources around the world. IgnatianSpirituality.com serves all audiences—the curious, the knowledgeable, and the expert.
  • Contemplative Outreach is a spiritual network of individuals and small faith communities committed to living the contemplative dimension of the Gospel. The common desire for Divine transformation, primarily expressed through a commitment to a daily Centering Prayer practice, unites our international, interdenominational community.

    Nurturing Spirituality

    Consider reading scripture and reflecting on it daily. Seek out Adult Spiritual Formation groups, or local Retreat House offerings through your local parish. Share your experiences with other VOTF members through our blog.