Traditional religion, as we know it, is dying because technology and science are changing the world dramatically. We live in what is known as the Digital Age. For many, traditional religions no longer meet their spiritual needs. Because humans desire to have a purpose and meaning for living in the world, religion can provide a paradigm or blueprint for living and worshiping. However, religion can also be tribal, authoritarian, misogynistic, cultist, and steeped in traditions that may no longer relate to one’s society and life. Religion can also become an obstacle to one’s spiritual well-being. Concepts of worship, prayer, ritual, and morality are usually based on religious scriptures and theologies that can be lifeless, misinterpreted, and disconnected from the latest Scriptural scholarship, theology, and experiences of most people in the 21st century.
For instance, descriptions of “God” as Theistic, Deistic, Pantheistic, Panentheistic, monotheistic, polytheistic, among others, can be dogmatic and unchangeable or can express evolving personal and communal beliefs as well.
A healthy religion leads to a healthy spirituality which nurtures the mind, heart, and soul and creates a life that is full of wonder, awe, and passion which leads to a productive human consciousness which results in service to others. Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do for me.’
Spirituality is your personal experience of the Sacred, open to the Spirit. It exists in an ever growing consciousness of the community, of Love throughout the world. Spirituality differs from belief in doctrines, creeds, and teachings pertinent to any religion. Our moral maturity is the result of a healthy religion, reason, humanistic values, and spiritual well-being.
Religion and Spirituality
The word religion is a derivative from “religio, a bond or obligation, or “a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance”. So, in addition to the Catholic religion, family traditions, and rituals, contribute to a personal religion. Maintaining the rituals, beliefs, and theology that are part of the positive development of faith in the Sacred can certainly add to a personal religious identity.
Traditional or institutional religion, like Catholicism, may well need updating or more relevance to the the 21st century. A personal religion changes as a person matures as does an approach to life based on certain beliefs, values, and virtues which nourish a person’s soul and spiritual well-being. However, just as the body needs air to breath, our spirituality needs the Spirit of the Sacred. The Spirit causes, motivates, inspires, encourages, impels, triggers, stirs, provokes, stimulates, and influences, or activates a person’s very existence.
The word spirit is derived from the Hebrew “ruach” and then the Greek “pneuma”. Both words signify breath or wind. Grace, or“charis”in Greek, is a word describing the activity of the Spirit. Grace affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness, grace of speech, good will, loving-kindness, and Sacred favor.
The Spirit, or the energy and gist of the Sacred enables your human consciousness to journey toward and unite with the Sacred. I believe this was the impetus for Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed and others to preach and teach their insights and new found wisdom.
Journeying toward the Sacred
“It is important to understand the Sacred not as a Being, but as BEING ITSELF, not just as existing, but as EXISTENCE ITSELF. Every being in the universe, every atom, element, galaxy, planet, plant, animal, person, is a creation of EXISTENCE ITSELF. In sum, we exist because EXISTENCE exists.“
“The Sacred is everywhere in the universe because Existence is everywhere in the universe. If Existence was missing from a person or thing, the person or thing would not exist. The universe therefore, can be said to be “saturated” with “God” or the Sacred. Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit paleontologist and theologian said that we live in a “divine milieu.”
“The Sacred is INFINITE OVERFLOWING LOVE. The universe, the world, and humans are filled with love. All without exception are the beloved of the Sacred. Spirituality allows you to see everyone as brothers and sisters, arising from one universal, overflowing Love.”
OVERFLOWING LOVE is Threefold: it is CREATIVE, HEALING AND TRANSFORMING.
“With our spiritual consciousness, we see that the universe is made of love. The earth is made of love. The world and everything in it is made of love. Everyone is made of love. Everything is made of love. What is not of LOVE, is not of Sacredness.” Dr. Anthony Massimini, Ph.D.
What about the religion of Catholicism?
A person can retain their Catholic Identity while at the same time challenging the hierarchy and questioning Catholic teachings, doctrines, and morality. This requires a Catholic-Christian approach to conscience, autonomy, freedom, and to community. Your personal religion takes place alongside the organized or institutional religion which can sometimes be less relevant to the modern world. Remember, the goal of your personal religion is journeying toward and uniting with the Sacred which expresses that unity in unconditional love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. Following Jesus is certainly a primary Catholic Christian path to the Sacred.
The advice of Japanese poet Matsuo Basho shares the following wisdom: “Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought.” We must go beyond tribal or cult-like religion toward spiritual well-being. Jesus said, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
There is much on this site that may help you shape your own personal religion while keeping your Catholic identity. Much about the religion of Catholicism can advance your spiritual well-being even though some of it may not be relevant to your particular situation or life.
If you are confused or discouraged about your adherence to a specific religion, such as Catholicism, you should search for more information and seek spiritual direction or consultation. Comments or questions can be directed to the Contact page above.