Paulist Father Thomas Ryan brings insight to our blog today. Fr. Tom will be presenting a weekend retreat for us this July entitled, “Spiritual Freedom”. You can click here to read more about the retreat and about Fr. Tom’s experience, which includes a long ministry of international presentations and authoring many books. Let’s quiet ourselves and read this reflection…
When I was growing up, the geography of spirituality was the interior life, the “life of the soul”. Today, however, spirituality has expanded to encompass the full range of human experience. It is, in short, Christian life in the Spirit. It involves absolutely everything that makes up the Christian’s struggle to live in Jesus Christ by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
In other words, contemporary spirituality is more holistic. In this new territory we do not separate and make rivals of soul and body, spirit and flesh, church and world, sacred and profane. If something is good for my soul, then it is also ultimately good for my body; and if something is good for my body, then it is also good for my soul.
Today, we have a stronger appreciation for the seamless unity of our embodied spirits. And thus we bring into clearer view the “ordinary” and everyday opportunities which life offers to the baptized to be a gospel witness both in and to the world. A holistic spirituality is the human spirit being grasped, sustained, and transformed by the Holy Spirit through all the circumstances of our lives.
This holistic spirituality relates to our whole existence before God and amid the created world. As such, it can find expression in ways that are not strictly speaking “religious”. A good example of this is a recent video reflection by Dr. Emily Cash, a psychologist at St. Luke’s Institute in Boston. Each one of the attitudes and activities she mentions makes its own contribution to a genuinely holistic spirituality.