My understanding of Christian Spirituality based on the reading of “Guiding principles for a Christian Spirituality” by Michael Downey.

I understand Spirituality as a human quest to discover where we, human beings, are from, where we are going, our connection with each other, and in a large extent, our relationship with a Higher Power greater than ourselves.

Therefore, Christian Spirituality is the global experience through time and space of this quest for meaning to those who accept to follow and believe Jesus-Christ as the One who models this Higher Power perfectly.

Reading the handout “Guiding principles for a Christian Spirituality” by theologian Michael Downey helps me to focus on the concept of “Christian Spirituality” as both a universal lived experience and an academic discipline.

This experience and knowledge are oriented towards the ultimate values and highest ideals perceived and pursued in the mystery of Jesus Christ.

In those 15 paragraphs, Downey specifies some key principles to promote the concrete experience of searching for God through specific guidelines.

I retain the 6 following elements as the main essential points of Downey’s thought in this context :

  1. The Christian life as an experience, and a story
  2. The Christian life as communion
  3. A life of prayer
  4. A life of growth, development, and maturation.
  5. A life of solidarity
  6. A life of stewardship

Each of this point has broadened my understanding of the concept of “Christian Spirituality” as I will develop in the following paragraphs.

  1. The Christian life as an experience, and a story

Christian Spirituality is an experience, and a story to be told. It involves us with God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and others with inner and outer events. God uses human works, images, stories to accomplish His people. His revelation is ongoing. Experience is the source of all meaning. Each individual shapes his or her experiences in a unique way. Sharing stories lead us to spread, the message and style of Jesus are truly life-giving. Our telling stories keep traditions alive and meaningful. This is the base of the experience of the human relationship, and any relationship between human beings and God. (1)

  1. The Christian Life as communion

Christian Spirituality invites us to participate in God’s life through communion. communion is more than a memorial. This symbolic ceremony molds us with the Incarnate Word by the power of the Holy Spirit. Communion is not an individualistic matter; it is a body matter. It leads us to better relationship with God and with others. (2)

  1. A life of prayer

Prayer is the ongoing relation with God. it is one of the greatest gift our Lord has given us outside of salvation. Prayer is the pipeline of communication between God and His people, between God and those who love Him. Prayer engages God, enables God’s people, and enlarges His kingdom.

  1. A life of growth, development, and maturation.

Human growth and maturation are prerequisites for growing and maturing in the spiritual life. Our growth as human beings can often be a measure of our spiritual maturity. Spirituality itself can be defined as a “ fully human phenomenon, and it is a phenomenon of the fully human.” Human development is also applicable in regard to ones relationship with God. (3)

  1. A life of solidarity

Our light is to be shared with others. We are entailed to live in rightly ordered relationship with ourselves, other human beings, and God. The very heart and soul of the Christian Spiritual life is in solidarity with others above with the least disadvantaged, the disenfranchised. It is expressed through communion with the Incarnate Word of the Holy Spirit. The Christian spiritual life is reserved for an elite group usually vowed religious and clergy. All the baptized are called to the fullness of life in the Spirit.

  1. A life stewardship

Christian Spirituality is to be in service to others for the goods of creation. We also develop relationship between human and nonhuman life. We can use our God given gifts and talents to throw our lights on current issues such as global warming, war, human justice.

In Conclusion, this text on Christian Spirituality has helped me to better understand this concept on its aspect of a global experience with God. It has broadened my understanding on the connections between systematic theology and spirituality.  As Christians, we are followers of Christ, and with those guiding principles, we are better equipped to have dialogue and conversations with others based on our faith, and our personal development

Bibliography

“Guiding Principles for a Christian Spirituality” by Michael Downey. Understanding Christian Spirituality. Paulist Press, 1997; 146-150.

(1) Tad Dunne

(Published in The New Dictionary of Catholic Spirituality, ed. Michael Downey, Liturgical Press, 1993). http://users.wowway.com/~tdunne5273/Expernc.pdf

(2) Mark M. Mattison

The meaning of Communion

http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/openhse/communion.html

(3) Reflection on Psycho-Spiritual Development   – John Friel C.P.

http://daneoservices.weebly.com/refection-on-psycho-spiritual-development-john-friel-cp.html

 

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