WHAT IS CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY?
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Of the many definitions of spirituality, Sandra Schneiders provides one of the most
encompassing:Spirituality is “the experience of consciously striving to
integrate one’s life in terms not of isolation and self-absorption but of self-transcendence toward the
ultimate value one perceives”.
Christians, the ultimate concern is God revealed in Jesus Christ, and experienced through the gift of the Holy
Spirit. Self-transcendence moves one out of compulsive, addictive, obsessive patterns of behavior toward more
healthy relationships with oneself, other persons, and God.
In short, Christian spirituality is the
conscious human response to God that is both personal and ecclesial – it is life in the Spirit.
This article covers ten aspects of Christian
spirituality as follows:
1. Immanence of
relation to creation
Totality of Christian experience
Contemplation in action
Christian spirituality (the spiritual life) is at the same time experiential, apostolic, sacramental,
incarnational, Trinitarian, christological, ecclesial, and ecumenical.
challenge is to maintain a balanced Christian spirituality that has a proper sense of the transcendence of God.
humanity has a profound and authentic desire for wholeness in the midst of fragmentation, for community in the
face of isolation and loneliness, for liberating transcendence, for meaning in life, and for values that endure.
beings are spirit in the world and it is through an integral
Christian spirituality that their “hungering and thirsting” can
be satisfied and quenched.
Sandra Schneiders, “Spirituality in the Academy”, Theological Studies 50 (1989): 684.
“Spirituality, Spiritual Development and Holiness”, Review for Religious 51, no. 5 (1992): 648.
Philip Sheldrake, Spirituality and History: Questions of Interpretation and Method (London: SPCK,
James Bacik, “Contemporary
Spirituality”, in The New Dictionary of
Catholic Spirituality, ed. Michael Downey (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1993), 220.
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