Tag Archives: Christian

Christian Spirituality

24 Jul

    Every once in a while, someone will ask me if I consider myself a spiritual person. It is a strange and challenging question. I am a Christian. But am I spiritual? What does that even mean for a Christian? There are all kinds of spiritualities out there today, what is Christian spirituality?

Terence Sweeney - The Pentecost Sadeo Watanabe

The Pentecost Sadeo Watanabe

The general understanding of what it means to be a Christian is to be a follower of Christ. This is true (or at least should be true). There is another meaning to the word Christian. Christ means ‘the anointed;’ Jesus was the Christ because he was the anointed One. The Holy Spirit descended on him when he was baptized in the Jordan and anointed him the Christ. A few years later, the same Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and Mary on Pentecost, anointing them too.

This is all good and nice, but how does this relate to being spiritual? In baptism and confirmation, Christians are anointed with the Holy Spirit. We become christs. What does this mean? It means the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts. In calling ourselves Christians, we are not just saying we try to follow Christ, we mean we have been anointed as follower of and witness for Christ. For a Christian, to be spiritual primarily means that the Holy Spirit lives in our heart. The Spirit fills us to overflowing giving us the gifts we need to follow Jesus and to be christs to our brothers and sisters.

This is the heart of Christian spirituality. It isn’t something we do, it is something that God gives us and that we must be receptive to it. We must allow the Spirit to totally transform us as the Spirit transformed Jesus, the Son of God, from a carpenter to the Messiah. Of course, as our Christian and non-Christian readers will clearly recognize, many Christians are often not very Christ-like. We block the Holy Spirit’s actions in our hearts; we are not spiritual because we do not follow the Spirit. Nonetheless, to be a Christian is a calling from God which can only be fulfilled if we allow the Spirit to overflow out of us in acts of love.

Am I saying that only Christians are spiritual? You mean to tell me that a Buddhist monk spending years in meditation is not spiritual? No. The Holy Spirit moves where it wills. The Holy Spirit is alive in spiritualties that are oriented to the good. However, it is in and through baptism, confirmation, and the prayers of the Catholic Church, that the Spirit is especially at work. The Spirit is at work in the hearts of all people: leading all people to Christ; calling us into relationship with God; calling us into relationship with each other; calling us all into the spiritual communion of the Church. So let the Spirit fill her heart, let the Spirit draw you into the communion, into the Church whose very soul is the Holy Spirit.

– Terence Sweeney

The Gospel is Peace, and we are its Peacemakers

16 Jul Tim DeCelle

“Neither are any wars so furious and bloody, or of so long a continuance, as those occasioned by difference in opinion, especially if it be in things indifferent.” – Jonathan Swift

I have struggled of late to grasp, to strain, to keep what is mysterious and transcendent. I have a bad habit of reading too much. Not too much of just anything, but too much of the dour and polemical pieces that I find too often and easily published online. Such works bring me always crashing back down to earth, back to the cold and brute facts of human ego and violence. I am, unfortunately, thinking of some Christian and Catholic writers.

Peacemakers - Tim DeCelle

Certainly, this is not true of all or even most of those writing about their faith. But a vocal minority has made dominant an oppositional, warfare style of writing. It is all doom and gloom: we are living in perilous times, we must fight the enemy. I am incessantly reminded that we are in a culture war, that we must wage war and win.

   I thought I read something in the Gospels about peacemaking?

If you are reading this, I want to assure you: YOU are not the enemy. Whatever you might read about the battle for values or a clash of cultures, I assure you that you are not the barbarian at the gates of civilization. This kind of language always attempts to draw lines between people, an attempt that falsely divides what should be united.  In fact, the only battle that we should ever speak of is the battle between good and evil, between all of humanity and the forces of darkness. We must resist the temptation to see evil as somehow incarnated in another.

We are in this together. We are made to work together, to live in peace, and to be peacemakers. We are called to transcend the petty bickering and grandstanding about the “valueless” enemy. Before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed that all would be made “one.” This is a “one” united in and through Christ.

It is not a political unity. It is not a unity about who holds what ideology. Socialists and libertarians, liberals and conservatives and everyone in between and beyond—all will be made new in Christ, and not through ideology.

We have and will still have differences of opinions, of ideals, and yes, even values. We are not to abandon truth but rather to live in the image of Jesus is to live as a peacemaker. We are not called to fight for culture but for people. We are their defenders. Through this self-gift, the actual lives and souls of people will be transformed and, from it, the whole world.
– Tim DeCelle

A Whole New Meaning to “Taking a Knee”

16 Jan

A Whole New Meaning to "Take a Knee"

Tim Tebow lives! Even if he couldn’t lead his Broncos past the Patriots; he still led the Broncos on a great run. On top of that, he was voted America’s favorite athlete by the ESPN Sports Poll. What does it all mean? “It tells me they have a lot of crazy polls out there,” says Timmy himself. Touché. But it also means that America’s obsession with the charismatic quarterback continues for another chapter. What exactly is so fascinating about this devout dude.

After all, it’s not like we’ve never seen a comeback victory before and we’ve seen spiritual sports figures. We’ve certainly seen better quarterbacks. Hell, Tom Brady’s still probably better looking. Maybe it’s just the combination? Or is it something else?

It’s totally something else. How about this: when has the American public had a more authentically likeable, remarkably articulate, and socially compelling celebrity who was also unabashedly Christian, since… ever? Isn’t it ironic? A nation founded in part on Christian principles has never had a pop icon who was as Christian as he was relevant. And I’m not sure it’s ever really wanted one. This is also why Tebow might be as polarizing as he is popular.

It’s easy to see why; Americans like to keep their faith private. But Tebow likes to tell people about Jesus Christ. All the time. And yes, some people will say that it just seems a little over-the-top, and there might be some merit in that. But I’m not sure the volume of his Jesus references is what bothers and/or intrigues people the most.

As Christian as America is in a lot of ways, I’m not sure that most of these Christians really believe in Jesus Christ. Sure, they believe in God, and they like what Jesus stands for, but are they convinced that Jesus Christ is God? And are they prepared to take responsibility for what that reality entails?

Maybe not, but here’s why I think they are so fascinated by Tebow: they want to believe (even if they don’t necessarily want the responsibility!). They want a reason, and to them, Tebow is a reason. And not just because he’s winning in unlikely fashion, but because he is so absolute in his faith and yet at the same time so authentic.

That kind of absolute authenticity demands a response. And boy, is he getting one.

– Isaac Huss