Godtalk: Spirituality

POST BY PKnott

Spirituality word cloud
Spirituality word cloud

We often talk about spirituality. How do you speak about something being spiritual?  The word is usually taken as something ethereal, out of this world:  in fact it has very earthly effects, it touches on everyday life.

There are many definitions of spiritual, but the one that appeals to me rests on St Paul’s list of the effects of the Spirit: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. You find it in his letter to the Galatians (Galatians 5:22)

That list is not meant to be exhaustive. St Paul adds elsewhere, humility and forgiveness, whatever is excellent, honourable and worthy of praise. So wherever I find evidence of charity, kindness, patience and so on I am looking at the Holy Spirit at work.

Yet the simplest way of speaking about spirituality perhaps is expressed in the Eucharistic Prayer for Children, ‘Help all who follow Jesus to work for peace and bring happiness to others.’  Peace, that is, in the sense of harmony, creating harmony at home, at work, at leisure, wherever we may be.  

Harmony doesn’t just happen. It needs a lot of time and effort. This is the peace Jesus leaves us. ‘My peace I give you, my peace I leave you,’ said Jesus ‘not peace as the world gives.’

So, ‘Help all who follow Jesus to work for peace – and bring happiness to others.’  Happiness cannot be demanded, cannot be bought, can only be found through our kindness and concern for others. 

It’s all summed up in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats.  ‘As you did it, or failed to do it to the least of these,’ said Jesus, ‘you did it to me.’   You can’t get more spiritual than that!We often talk about spirituality. How do you speak about something being spiritual?  The word is usually taken as something ethereal, out of this world:  in fact it has very earthly effects, it touches on everyday life.  

Peter Knott SJ