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What is the Spiritual Life?

All spiritualities have three components: a theology of God, a psychology of persons, and a methodology for deepening this human-divine relationship. In the 20th Century, we have seen changes in all three components. Our concept of God has shifted from a divine being facing us from beyond history, an outsider God, to a God who dwells within persons, an insider God, who from within reveals us to ourselves, calls us to growth and gives of Himself

This concept of God changes our concept of the human person. The human person is never exclusively human. God’s revelatory presence, self-gift and call operate within each situation and experience of our daily life. So, to deepen our spiritual life, our relationship with God’s Spirit, we must expand our faith that God’s Spirit is deeply involved in our daily experiences; and we must expand our openness to the Spirit’s presence in our lives.

However, before we can readily respond to the Spirit, we need to work on our attitude toward ourselves. First, by admitting that we are not yet what we want to be. Second, by recognizing that we have an eros or thrust at the core of our being to become more truly ourselves through our actions and choices. And third, by nourishing that eros. Above all, we must believe that we are in the process of becoming; and we must be open to the process. This openness makes room for the Spirit!

The Spirit is dynamically present in our growth process. An attitude of openness opens the door to the Spirit. In his book, Man Becoming, Gregory Baum states that if we look upon ourselves as static, changeless, complete human beings, we lock out the Spirit from our lives. Yet, our relationship with God is a growth relationship. God continues to create us. We must believe that the Spirit is deeply involved in the process of our becoming ourselves, and we must be open to the stirrings of the Spirit in our daily lives.

The Spirit is present in the deep movements of our hearts. SinceVatican ll, the influence of the unconscious on our behavior has been accented. Spiritual Director John English, SJ says that the Spirit reveals Himself more in our deepest, positive feelings than He does in clear and distinct ideas. Much of what we do is by subconscious motivation without stopping to reflect on the feeling that is moving us. If we want to find God most intimately, we must believe that the Spirit nudges us at the core of our being and we must be open to the feelings operating there as the Spirit’s prompts. Of course, our wounded hearts also register at the level of our feelings; so discernment is required.

The Spirit is present in our life events. We marry. We have children. We change jobs. We move. We experience many major and minor events in our lives. We must believe that our life events are Spirit-laden, and we must be open to their sacredness.

The Spirit is present in the crosses in our lives. We must believe that the Spirit is always present in the many deaths in life we all experience and that the Spirit will always create the conditions for us to become more human and the conditions for the Spirit to summon us to wholeness. And we must be open to these signs of the Spirit.

The Spirit is present in our encounters with others. Baum says that wherever people are, something happens. People are not simply left to their destructive inclinations; the Spirit is operative in their lives, calling them to self-knowledge and freeing them to leave their destructive past behind them and enter into new life. We must believe this and be open to the workings of the Spirit in our relationships.

The Spirit is dynamically present in every aspect of our lives. We must believe that all in our lives is sacred. We must be open to all as sacramental. We must live with the expectancy that we will discover the divine in the human.