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Holy Eros

Could it be that the saints and mystics encountered Jesus as Eros? The Holy Spirit as Eros? God as Eros? The spiritual life as an erotic affair? I think so, despite the fact that the Church’s toxic spirituality had denigrated eros almost from its inception.

What has been the effect of such negative spirituality? It has impacted the spirituality of married couples in particular, but also all seeking a spiritual life. For it has pitted soul against body, hiding the glory of our embodied personhood: we are incarnate spirit, a being who is body, soul and spirit. Further, it has fostered unhealthy spiritualities.

History of Eros. Ironically enough, the pagan, first-century author Plutarch appreciated the connection between eros and marital spirituality. In his “Dialogues of Love,” he wrote: “Physical pleasure with a spouse is the seed of friendship and the participation in great mysteries. Though the physical pleasure is brief, from it grows day by day respect and grace, affection and faithfulness.”

Contrast Plutarch’s insight with the Church’s long insistence that reproduction was the saving element in marriage. I believe that when the Church resolves its discomfort with eros in marital relationships, it will bless eros for all spiritualities. The result? A second Pentecost will dawn. The good news is that 2000 years later the Church is beginning to discover eros as an intrinsic characteristic of human psychology and healthy spirituality.

In his first encyclical letter, God Is Love, Pope Benedict XV1 rehabilitates the word “eros:” “…it is neither the spirit alone nor the body alone that loves: it is man, the person, a unified creature composed of body and soul, who loves. Only when both dimensions are truly united, does man attain his full stature. Only thus is love—eros—able to mature and attain its authentic grandeur.” Also, he states that God’s love “may certainly be called eros, yet it is also totally agape.”

Where does all this take us? I will propose a new, bold spirituality that will empower us to live a deeply spiritual, fully human life—based on a spirituality of eros. For starters, let us define spirituality as a theology of God, a psychology of human beings, and a methodology for bringing human beings into an ever deeper relationship with God.

Psychology of Eros. First, let us look at eros in human psychology. For the human being, eros is pleasure, is passion, is sexual, is our empowering life force. It is the total mind-body response. It embraces the power of our sexuality to empower our relating, our loving, our thinking, our creating.

In their book, Holy Eros, James D. Whitehead and Evelyn Eaton Whitehead, define eros: “Eros is the vital energy that courses through the world, animating every living thing. It is…the energy that stirs humans to be in touch, to reach out and link their lives in lasting ways….Eros is the force that quickens our hearts when we encounter suffering and moves us to help and heal. Sex, curiosity, compassion—Eros moves through our lives in delightful and bewildering ways.”

These definitions of eros sound very positive, but there is a terrible bias against the word itself built over many years. In his book, “Original Blessings,” Matthew Fox writes: “We have a word in our language for passionate celebration, but it has been co-opted by the multi-billion-dollar pornography industry…the reason the pornography industry has priority on the word “erotic” is that our spiritual traditions in the West have lost passion for passion and passion for eros.” Our first task is to regain our comfort with the word.

Eros in Spirituality. Eros is both our richest gift and a problem for us, warns Fr. Ronald Rolheiser in his book, “The Holy Longing.” He says that we are born with fire in our bellies—eros—that drives us to love, beauty and creativity, or to destructiveness. Ultimately, our spirituality is what we do with that energy. He gives three examples.  Eros drove Mother Teresa to heroic accomplishments for God and the poor. Eros drove the rock star Janis Joplin to death at an early age from an overdose of life. And eros drove Princess Diana both to a life of charity as well as to a life of the jet-setter.

Rolheiser concludes: “Spirituality is about finding the proper ways, disciplines, by which to both access that energy and contain it.” So, at the heart of living a spiritual life is a dialectic calling us to entertain opposing ideas and to seek to resolve their conflict. On the one hand, if our spiritual life is not an erotic affair with an Infinite Lover, it is not a spiritual life. It may be a pious or religious way of life, but it is not a spiritual life which seeks deeper union with God.

On the other hand, to access deliberately eros has its challenges. But, ultimately, we must befriend our eros and not look upon our erotic feelings “like potential terrorists threatening to hijack the ship of self and steer it uncontrollably into dangerous waters” in the words of Wilkie Au, spiritual director and writer. What’s the solution?

Spirituality of Eros. We need a bold, new spirituality to resolve this dialectic related to eros. We can’t just focus on embracing eros. We can’t just zero in on containing eros which has been our principal strategy for years. We need a spirituality of eros that gives us a methodology that enables us to access eros in our life experiences, engage it and befriend it, allowing eros to become a natural part of our lives.

Most importantly, such a spirituality must provide us with a theology of God that cultivates a passion for living the spiritual life erotically. Our understanding of the Christian Vision must provide us with a supportive environment for living with eros as a natural part of our lives. Like Jesus’ garment which was one piece, so our methodology and theology must be one piece. At the same time, this spirituality must provide us with a discipline to defend us against the potential excesses of eros. Together these elements comprise the proposed spirituality of eros.

Methodology for Eros. How would one live such a spirituality? The clue is in the articles I have written on the spirituality of compassion. I have shared the various discoveries I have made about that spirituality since I first experienced it in 1988 at the Louvre Museum. This reflection has forced me to make still another discovery—that I have been living a spirituality of eros all these years because the spirituality of compassion is essentially a spirituality of eros.

Recall that the spirituality of compassion directs us to be fully present to the object of our encounter with a caring heart and an attentive mind. Whatever we are encountering, we must gift ourselves to the other to receive its gift. We must yield or surrender ourselves to the other whether it be art, music, dance, nature, other people, God. So it impacts the whole spectrum of our lives. Note: our efforts will not always produce the desired disposition, but God appreciates earnest effort. The rest is up to the Spirit.

At first, I had thought that the practice of compassion was simply a technique for concentrating the full energies of our mind and heart on the object of our encounter. A form of centering our minds and hearts. Then I realized that this practice was the way to spiritual union. Now I discover that it is the way to awaken my eros in order to gift, yield, surrender myself to the object of my encounter. The spirituality of compassion is indeed a spirituality of eros. This practice gives us a methodology to access eros in our life experiences, engage it and befriend it, allowing eros to become a natural part of our lives.

Containing Eros. The practice of compassion also eliminates the surprise of the pornographic in our lives. If we see all of life through the eyes of eros, we weaken its force. When the pornographic is the only source of eros, it has a more powerful effect. It causes us to focus on it and make a monster of it. Further, the fact that the pornographic offends the gestalt—the whole, integrated configuration—of our spirituality of eros makes us uncomfortable with it. We don’t want sensationalism; we want the joy of spirituality. Thus, we are more able to contain its power.

In addition, the above mindset disposes us spontaneously to draw upon the practice of discipline as described in Article 8. Briefly, this virtue has two facets—attentiveness and inattentiveness. We practice attentiveness to the interior landscape of our spirits to determine what directions our heart wishes are driving us. We practice inattentiveness to enable us to watch our compulsive needs wilt away.

Theology of Eros. Thus far, we have said that psychologically the human person is essentially an erotic being, and that the practice of the spirituality of compassion gives us a methodology for both accessing and containing eros. Note also that this spirituality leads us naturally to a theology of eros.

Now let us look at such a theology. For if the human person is an erotic being, then God must be perceived in erotic terms to be relevant. In an interview of Rubem Alves, Brazilian theologian and social scientist that appeared in Cross Currents, he states: “…a theology based on epistemology, no matter how fierce, doesn’t move people. We are not constructed in a Cartesian [philosophical] way. We are erotically constructed.” Here is a sketch of a theology of eros:

  • God as Eros—God is a passionate God. God did not want to remain totally Mystery, the Cloud of Unknowing. The Ultimate Source of Being, the Ultimate Source of Beatitude wanted an incarnate union with humankind. God is Eros. Further, this erotic God dwells at the core of our beings, recreating us from the inside out. Also, this erotic God permeates all creation. When we contemplate the incredible beauty of creation, we can only conclude that God is Eros Who wants to win our hearts.
  • Jesus as Eros—When we perceive the life events and words of the historical Jesus as contained in the Risen Christ, we discover the Jesus Process—a power source from which we receive the gifts of the Spirit. Then we can pray: “Risen Christ, set in motion the Jesus Process in our lives and pour into our hearts Jesus’ life energies, the love force that Jesus was and is now in the present moment.” The historical Jesus was Eros 2000 years ago and Jesus is Eros today.
  • Spirit as Eros—It is through the Spirit that the Infinite Lover issues Lover’s invitations, awakening us to the possibilities of love each day, calling us out of our tombs daily to experience new life like Lazarus. As Eros, the Spirit takes initiatives in our lives, stirring the movements of our hearts to inspire us and invite us to greater love, hope and faith.

How ironic! Eros, the life force rejected by the Church for so long has become the cornerstone of a spirituality that empowers us to live a deeply spiritual, fully human life. Further, I can trust a God Who is Eros, for He wants union with me, as I want union with Him. I can trust a God Who is Eros to take me home when my days on earth are completed.

 

Encountering Infinite Lover

We have said elsewhere that through deep contemplative prayer inspired by the Holy Spirit, Jesus discovered God the Father as Compassion Who loved all beings and all creation with unconditional love. In other words, Jesus discovered God as the Infinite Lover at the very core of his being and all beings. This discovery transformed Jesus into a radical lover of God and all humanity.

What are the implications of Jesus’ experience for our spiritual life? Should not our spiritual life reflect Jesus’ experience? Should we not be attempting to encounter God as Infinite Lover as Jesus did? Should not Jesus’ vision of God as Infinite Lover be the overriding thrust of our spiritual practices? Here are three practices to deepen our encounter with God as Infinite Lover.

See Possibilities. See the possibilities of love for an Infinite Lover. Where? In the articles of our faith. We must view them, not just as articles of faith, but as the outpourings of love of an Infinite Lover. God assuming humanity in Jesus’ Incarnation. Jesus living our human life and dying our human death, and that a horrendous one. God gifting us with his Holy Spirit as our Higher Power and intimate guide. We being incorporated into the Body of Christ and empowered with Jesus’ powers. All are incarnate realizations of the infinite love of the Infinite Lover!

Not only must we see these articles of faith as actualized possibilities of Infinite Love, but we must also attempt to grow in our response to these love possibilities of the Infinite Lover. We cannot allow ourselves to acknowledge them only in our minds as infinite possibilities. We must seek to enter into their depth with our entire personhood.

These actualized possibilities of Infinite Love are the facts of our salvation history, but for our spiritual life the degree of our wonder at them must deepen, for it is wonder that will open us up to our encounter with the Infinite Lover.

Appreciate Abundance. Appreciate the abundance that God has lavished upon us. God as Infinite Lover possesses infinite abundance, and he shares that abundance with us. We see that abundance manifested in our salvation history, and everywhere we look—in the countless flowers and trees, in the mountains and the oceans. God creating and sustaining the universe and everything in it, and all manifesting his presence, beauty, wisdom, love and attention.

Had God created just one flower or one tree, pilgrims would flock to admire them. Instead, he has lavished his abundance upon us, and we tend to ignore it. Creation must be an intrinsic part of our spirituality. The degree of our appreciation for creation must deepen, for it is appreciation that will open us up to our encounter with the Infinite Lover.

Dance the Divine Dance. Dance the dance of the Infinite Lover. Divine Love dances us in three movements—Love Radiating Out, Love Inviting, and Love Taking Charge—over and over again. I will describe each of these movements separately, but there is a dynamic flow here. In fact, we must learn to move with the movements of the dance. It is like a ballerina dancing with three partners, each handing her off to the next. The degree of our engagement in this dance must deepen, for it is engagement that will open us up to our encounter with the Infinite Lover:

  • Love Radiating Out is the Infinite Lover at the center of our being radiating out love beams through our minds, hearts and wills so that we see all—people, ourselves, creation, events—through the eyes of love. However, it takes two to tango. For the first movement of the dance to begin, we must prepare ourselves through centering: the practice of firing up our hearts, focusing our attention and entering fully into the present moment to connect with the center of our being. And we must pray that our hearts be opened to the Infinite Lover’s outpouring of Divine Love.
  • Love Inviting, the second movement of the dance, is the Infinite Lover taking action in our spiritual lives, inviting us to break out of our comfort zones and take risks at greater love of the Infinite Lover and others. The first movement, Love Radiating Out, can be so heart-warming and joyous that we are tempted to rest in that experience. But divine consolation is divine invitation. Love Inviting wants more for us. To prepare ourselves we must grow in awareness of the Infinite Lover’s invitations and live in expectancy of them.
  • Love Taking Charge, the third movement of the dance, is the Infinite Lover taking over our lives. Here the Infinite Lover drives us to act beyond ourselves, beyond our normal responses to people and events. We feel Divine Love taking charge of us and moving us beyond our capabilities. And with such ease that we don’t mind the push. Then we understand what St. Paul meant when he said: “Now not I, but Christ lives in me.” With Love Taking Charge, the dance has been completed. However, it is up to us to initiate the dance over and over again through our practice of centering.

No one can ever fathom the love of the Infinite Lover. We can only reach out to the Infinite Lover. But our hearts have been created to pursue the Infinite Lover. And there is great joy in the reaching out–experiencing ever greater wonder at the possibilities of love as demonstrated by God’s actions in our salvation history, experiencing ever greater thankfulness for God’s abundance shared with us, experiencing ever greater engagement in the dance of the Infinite Lover, attempting to dance us into a deeper, more intimate relationship.

 

 

Resurrection Mindset

As St. Augustine said, “We are Resurrection People.” So, we must have a Resurrection Mindset. In our series of articles on the Resurrection, we have looked at our spirituality through a Resurrection Mindset, seeing all facets of our faith and spiritual practice through the lens of the Resurrection: How the historical Jesus is the dynamic catalyst of the Jesus Process leading us to the Risen Jesus and the Spirit’s powers. How the Resurrection affects our prayer life, how it affects the way we pray the Mass, how it affects our reading the Gospels. How we cope with life’s death experiences. How we view Christian community as the source of Spirit-empowerment.

All these outcomes of the Resurrection flow from Jesus’ death and Resurrection. The great Christian paradox: out of death comes life. Yet, how many practicing Catholics cling exclusively to the historical Jesus? They are happy to draw inspiration and wisdom from the earthy Jesus, but dismiss the “mystical” stuff. They accuse the Church of mythologizing Jesus with its talk of the Risen Jesus and the Holy Spirit. These people must die to their too great comfort with the historical Jesus in order to grow into the Christian Vision.

Evolutionary Mindset. Now we want to consider how a Resurrection Mindset impacts the process of our spiritual development. Here is what Maryknoll spiritual writer Fr. John Walsh, M.M. says about the necessity of a growth-oriented mindset: “People cannot evolve without an evolutionary mindset. Unfortunately most cultural Christians (those born into the Faith) still live in a static universe.”

Our Resurrection Mindset is just such an evolutionary mindset. It is a process mindset because Jesus is the dynamic process, the catalyst of the Jesus Process, the driver of the Resurrection Process, constantly calling us from death to life.

Let’s further define a Resurrection Mindset. It is comprised of two elements, a lively faith vision, and a realization that only by dying to oneself can we experience new life. First, our faith vision assures us that Jesus is dynamically alive and calls us out of our tombs, as he called Lazarus, to partake more deeply of life. As Resurrection People, we will experience death many times as we move to new life, new periods of growth.

Second, we must constantly ask ourselves: what must I die to in order to move to new life? What attitudes of my life vision require change? My attitude toward God, Jesus, Spirit, ourselves, others, life, reality? Wherever we are on our spiritual journey, we must look upon ourselves as ever evolving to new life, but always needing to die to grow.

Evolving Spirituality. In Evangelization and Justice, Fr. Walsh cites the stages of spiritual maturity. Given a transforming environment, such as a Cursillo Weekend, most active Christians will move out of the traditional stages of absorbing their faith from others and will make a conscious decision to take possession of their faith. But they will have to die to the comfort of letting others think for them. When this happens, they will grow up spiritually.

Unfortunately at this juncture, they will normally adopt one model of Christian living. Their spirituality will be predominantly either head-oriented or heart-oriented; group-oriented or individualistic; action-oriented or contemplative-oriented. But to continue their growth, they must die to what hinders their progress to move to the conflicting polarity. If they are predominately action-oriented, they must become more contemplative-oriented. Likewise, they must grow into the other opposing models, leading eventually to a richly integrated spiritual life. The final stage of growth is when we become Spirit-possessed and allow the Spirit to create prophets and mystics out of us.

Evolving Heart Wishes. What helps us to evolve our spirituality? Fr. Walsh responds that we must surface and expand our basic heart wishes to embrace all the models of Christian living. He enumerates these heart wishes as follows: 1. We want to love. 2. We want to be loved. 3. We want to share our experiences, and we want to enter into the experiences of others. Actually, we hunger for solidarity with God and others. 4. We want to grow our potentialities. We must be keenly aware of our heart wishes and attempt to discern these movements in our everyday lives, for it is the Spirit at work inviting us to come out of our tombs and grow our souls. We will have to sacrifice something to respond. What is it? Ultimately, we come to the realization that only by encountering fully God and our sisters and brothers that we attain our heart wishes.

Evolving Self-discovery. Besides having positive heart wishes, we also experience the shadow side of ourselves. Call them death wishes for they destroy or hinder our spiritual progress. Here too we must surface our feelings and discern our fears, hostilities, passivity, self-centeredness so that we can handle them at a conscious level, rather than allowing them to sabotage our relationships with God and our sisters and brothers.

So, in our spiritual lives we are faced with the challenging conflict of our positive heart wishes and our death wishes. Only Jesus through the Spirit’s powers can enable us to cope with this inner, never-ending conflict. But Jesus will lead us out of the darkness of our ignorance to reveal to us our human condition. The evolution here is one of continuing self-discovery and acceptance of reality, leading us to deeper dependency on the Spirit.

Ultimate Evolution. What is the ultimate evolution in our personal/spiritual development? Fr. Walsh responds: “It is ourselves with our resurrected bodies, alive in a radically changed universe that has become the site of these resurrected bodies…It is only when we pass through the evolutionary transition called death-unto resurrection that we can experience the fullness of evolution without extinguishing our individuality. In fact, just the opposite will happen: Through our ultimate encounter with Christ and others, our own personality will be enhanced beyond our wildest dreams.” We will be swept up into the inner love-life of the Trinity through the risen Christ. Until our personal resurrection, our personality, our true self is incomplete. Only then will our heart wishes be fulfilled in union with God and our sisters and brothers.

With a Resurrection Mindset, we will be sensitive to Jesus’ calling us constantly from death to life throughout our lives and into eternity. All life is Resurrection from the dead into new life!

 

 

 

End Plan

We commonly hear that the Eucharistic Meal, the Love Meal, is a memorial of Jesus and all that he has done for us. True, that is how the Eucharistic Meal began. After Jesus’ death, it became a way for his apostles and disciples to remember Jesus. That concept has prevailed. However, I believe that Jesus had a greater plan for the Eucharistic Meal that he instituted at the Last Supper.

The term “memorial” looks back at what Jesus did. It does not look forward to Jesus’ goal of creating community, the Beloved Community. The term does not highlight the notion of Jesus empowering us to become community, anointing us to become the Beloved Community, through our Eucharistic celebration.

God’s Plan. Permit me a moment of fanciful imagination. The scene is a brainstorming session among the Persons of the Trinity. It takes place before Jesus’ Incarnation.

Christ begins the discussion: “I understand that our plan for salvation calls for me to be incarnated, taking the form of a human being.”

“That’s right,” the Father replies. “You will enter into human history to demonstrate that Infinite Love exists at the heart of reality and that there is hope for all humanity.”

Christ continues, “I’ll spend some 30 years on earth teaching people how to live their lives and live a relationship of love with one another.”

The Spirit notes, “After you physically leave earth, I will be your continuous presence in the world and remind your followers of all that you have taught them. I will be enlightenment and inspiration for all.”

“But what is the end plan?” Christ asks. “I know that I will suffer a shameful death and rise in glory on the third day. But does the divine plan end there?” After a moment of reflection, Christ answers his own question:

“I will become the ultimate and eternal source of consecration, holiness and anointing for all humanity. Our glory will be all our people fully alive through me and united in me. Our glory will be the Beloved Community.”

On that note, the planning session ends.

Plan Accomplished. Although the above divine dialogue is a flight of fantasy about a great mystery, it helps us to envision the divine plan for salvation. Namely, that it would redefine God’s relationship with us and what would bring the fullest glory to God. There are hints of that in the Old Testament. God tells his people that he does not want their bloody sacrifices of animals to do him homage. Instead, God wants their hearts.

At the Last Supper, Jesus accomplished this new direction in God’s relationship with us through the institution of the Eucharistic Meal, the heart of the Mass. He threw out a 1,000-year-old tradition of animal sacrifice in the Temple at Jerusalem conducted by priests and levites. He replaced it with the Love Meal for a Eucharistic community to create the Beloved Community.

This Love Meal celebrated at Mass is more than a ritual. Through it, Jesus perpetuates his presence in the Eucharistic Community and perpetuates his empowerment of the Eucharistic Community to become the Beloved Community. It is not just an everlasting re-presentation of Jesus’ final hours, bringing Jesus’ sacrifice forever into the present moment at Mass. The Love Meal is Jesus’ end plan for which everything else preceded  it—Jesus becoming the ultimate and eternal source of consecration, holiness and anointing of the Eucharistic Community to become the Beloved Community.

To appreciate the Eucharistic Meal fully, we must see it as a part of the Paschal Mysteries which include Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and the sending of the Spirit at Pentecost. We will substitute the term “Jesus Process” for Paschal Mysteries because the Risen Christ transformed these individual historical events into a process. The term, the “Jesus Process,” captures that understanding.

What is the significance of the Jesus Process for us? The Risen Christ has preserved the historical Jesus’ life experiences, and has created through them a power source at the center of our personhood. It is from this inner power source that the Risen Christ gifts us with the Spirit’s gifts. The Jesus Process is at the heart of the spiritual life.

Through the Jesus Process, the Risen Christ pours out the Spirit’s gifts for both our individual quest for spiritual growth and for the creation of Christian Community. In past articles on the Jesus Process, we have focused on its role in our individual quest. Of course, it is also the power source for the creation of Christian community. For wherever there are two or three gathered in Jesus’ name, he is present among them. Jesus’ presence in community means empowerment to grow our souls through one another with the help of the Spirit. How much more so is this true of Jesus at the Love Meal at Mass!

Plan Adrift. The history of the Eucharistic celebration reveals how we have drifted away from Jesus’ goal for creating the Beloved Community through the Eucharist. Right from the onset of Christianity, opposing views of the Eucharist took shape. One, emphasizing Jesus’ presence in the sacred elements; and the other, Jesus’ presence in community. By the Middle Ages, “the focus moved to perceiving Christ’s presence solely in the consecrated elements, and away from Christ’s presence ‘among us,’” according to Dr. Richard W. Scaine’s article entitled “The Eucharist in an Evolutionary Perspective.”

Michael Whelan in a Cross Currents article expressed it this way: “The Eucharistic host became an object of reverence, rather than the center of a communal performance. The emphasis was increasingly placed upon the miracle of transubstantiation in the priest’s blessing of the bread and wine, rather than the transformation of the community itself in its participation in the Eucharist.” Clearly, we have drifted from Jesus’ plan.

Plan Ahead. How do we restore the Eucharistic Celebration at Mass to Jesus’ intentions? Reform begins with each one of us. The Beloved Community cannot be mandated. We need a grassroots effort. We must transform our vision of the Eucharistic Meal, the Love Meal. We must refocus our minds and hearts, not on the sacred elements in themselves, but on what Jesus wants to accomplish through the Eucharistic Meal—the creation of the Beloved Community.

We must bring to bear our deepest spirituality to transform the ritual of the Mass into a deep encounter with Jesus who consecrates our offerings of bread and wine with his presence and who makes Eucharist of us all with him in this Love Meal. Jesus in the Eucharist consecrates us for union and anoints us, gives us his Spirit of Love, to unite us for life in the Beloved Community.

Finally, Jesus’ end plan will bring about God’s ultimate glory—all people (no exceptions) fully alive through Jesus and united in Jesus. This means that we must gain a global awareness of all our sisters and brothers, especially those suffering poverty, hunger and tyranny. The energy for this kind of global love will come from celebrating the Love Meal at Mass.

(See Hymn, Dance of the Mass, which focuses on Jesus’ Love Meal under Music on the masthead.)

Dependency on the Spirit

Theologians tell us that the main mission of Christ was to give us His Spirit. This means that the Spirit should be the focal point of our spiritual lives. The Spirit should be our mentor, our inner guide, the inner force in our lives, the power in our lives, the center of our personal energy. We have only to admit our powerlessness to live a fully human life, recognize that a Higher Power exists within us and turn our lives over to the Spirit.

When we are not sure what to do, we should pray to the Spirit for an intuition to enlighten us, relax for a while and wait for enlightenment. This spiritual exercise will help us to encounter the Spirit and develop the virtue of dependency on the Spirit.

Another spiritual exercise is the Jesuit practice of the Examen. It is not an examination of conscience. Its goal is to gain the enlightenment needed to cooperate with and respond to the presence of Christ’s Spirit in our lives. Here is how it works. Take 10 minutes each night to review the events of your day. Ask yourself: “Where was the Spirit in these events? How are these experiences leading me to God and others in love?” Pray for guidance.

What should our attitude be toward the Spirit? One of expectancy. If we expect the Spirit to work in our lives, the Spirit will. Expectancy is the mindset that prepares us to be open to the Spirit and to be aware of. our many encounters with the Spirit. The Spirit is alive and working in all the positive moments of our lives, in all our insights and understandings, in our feeling of strength and renewal, in all our caring and loving of others, in the beauty of nature, in the intimacy of prayer, in the sacraments. These are all Spirit moments. And in our bleakest moments, we are never alone.

Very simply, spirituality is a life lived with, in and through the Spirit. Present within us, the Spirit is always ready to burst into our consciousness, always ready to surprise us. The potential for Spirit empowerment is always present.

With this realization, we can encounter life more dramatically. We can ask ourselves: “Where will the Spirit burst out in my life? When will the Spirit surprise me today?” This mindset frees us. We are no longer event-dependent or circumstance-dependent for our experiences of joy or growth; we can take our lives into our own hands, aggressively seeking Spirit moments. When we are online and interactive with the Spirit, great and wonderful things can happen.

Thus far, we have considered the virtue of dependency on the Spirit as it affects our interior life. However, as Cursillistas we are called to be contemplatives in action. How does this virtue affect our life of evangelization?

The Fundamental Ideas of the Cursillo Movement states that there can be no evangelization without the cooperation of the Spirit. We are instruments in the hands of the Spirit. Cursillistas “should pray unceasingly to the Spirit and to submit themselves prudently to His guidance as the principal source of their plans, of their initiatives, and of their work in the field of evangelization.”

Why? Because it is the Spirit Who “acts through all evangelizers who allow themselves to be possessed and led by Him; who puts on their lips the words which of themselves they would never be able to find; who explains to the faithful the deep meaning of the teachings of Jesus and of His mystery; and who predisposes the minds of the hearers to be open and receptive to the Good News.”