On September six, the Episcopal Commission for the Doctrine of the Faith in Spain released a document entitled My Soul Thirsts for God, for the Living God: Doctrinal Orientations on Christian Prayer. It echoes the 1989 document from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (in Rome), On Some Elements of Christian Meditation. Each documents speak eloquently about the foundations of Christian prayer, although also cautioning against Eastern meditation procedures. More than the subsequent various columns, we’ll study My Soul Thirsts in detail. The English translation is curtesy of Veronica Salazar.
The document starts with a survey of the present climate relating to prayer in Spain. It could equally apply to the US or most western nations. Spain’s bishops create that the human heart is restless for God, but our culture “generates emptiness,” rather than fulfillment (no. 1). Persons are hence browsing for spiritual fulfillment, which can lead to their taking up problematic practices.
“[M]any people—even these who grew up in a Christian environment—resort to meditation, prayer procedures and procedures that have their origin in religious traditions outdoors Christianity and the wealthy spiritual heritage of the Church. In some situations, this is accompanied by the abandonment of the Catholic faith, even inadvertently. In other situations, men and women attempt to incorporate these procedures as a ‘supplement’ of their faith to obtain a far more intense expertise of it. This assimilation is often completed with no right discernment about its compatibility with the Christian faith, the anthropology that derives from it and with the Christian message of salvation” (no. two).
The initially issue we study, then, is that when contemplating procedures of prayer or meditation that originated outdoors the Judeo-Christian tradition, we will have to be cautious and discerning. These procedures may well not normally be appropriate for Catholics. Often, practicing them could bring confusion relating to human nature and our have to have for salvation. Such practices have even led some to absolutely abandon the Christian faith.
The bishops of Spain note that we are living in a post-Christian culture. In Christian cultures, they say, teaching the faithful really should be focused on theology and morality. But in a globe that is no longer Christian, we have no generally held faith to create upon. “[I]n this cultural context, in which so numerous reside outdoors the faith, the basic challenge is to ‘show’ males the beauty of the face of God manifested in Christ Jesus so that they really feel attracted to Him. If we want every person to know and appreciate Jesus Christ and, by way of Him, to have a individual encounter with God, the Church can not be perceived only as a moral educator or defender of truths, but above all as a teacher of spirituality and the spot exactly where to have a profoundly human expertise of the living God” (no. five).
Several men and women who grew up nominally Christian have no information of the vast spiritual tradition inside their native faith. They mistakenly believe that they know what Christianity has to provide, and that it is lacking. Well known fads, like the present fad of mindfulness that has swept by way of the West, appear to provide a spirituality that can satisfy their thirst.
How can we bring such men and women back to the faith? We will have to enable them to encounter Jesus. By teaching them about the richness of Christian prayer and how it can lead to intimate union with God, we can direct their thirst toward the only One particular who can definitely satisfy them. The document then goes on to achieve just that, as we will see in future columns.
Image Credit:Angelica Kauffman [Public domain], by means of Wikimedia Commons