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Contemporary Catholic Belief and Action

 

The mission of ARCC is to bring about substantive structural change within the Catholic Church by seeking to institutionalize a collegial understanding of church where decision making is shared and accountability is realized among Catholics of every kind and conditio n.
 
Once people start to believe change is possible, 
the drive to achieve it accelerates. 
                                          -   Patrick Sullivan, ARCC President
 
 Spirituality
John A. Dick, PhD., S.T.D.
 
 
For many years, I have been actively involved in Catholic Church reform movements, advocating for a church that accepts men and women as equals, that is not run by an authoritarian old-boys club, and that is LGBT supportive. I write and lecture as well about the dangers of rigid fundamentalisms and advocate as well for an historical-critical understanding of Sacred Scripture.
 
That being said, my current focus is the need for a New Reformation. Not just in the Catholic Church but in all Christian traditions.
 
And central to the New Reformation is spirituality.
 
Some people equate spirituality with religion, but the two are different. Religion is the medium not the message. Healthy religion should promote spirituality; but it doesn't always happen. A lot of contemporary people, like the "nones," are, in fact, turned off by institutional religion and proclaim that they are "spiritual but not religious." People hungry and thirsty for spirituality are searching for satisfying and solid nourishment. Too often, in many churches, they are finding the cupboards bare or the food unsavory.
 
In Chapter 7 of John's Gospel, Jesus cries out: "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.'' (John 7:37-38) Jesus' call is significant. People do thirst for more. Thirst for justice, for truth, and for compassion. They thirst for the Divine.
 
Spirituality connects people to the Divine. To the depth of Reality. It provides peace and harmony in our lives. Spirituality goes to the very essence of what Christianity is all about. Spirituality is not something added on top of our Christian life.
 
Spirituality should be our way of life - in LIVED awareness of the Divine Presence, the Sacred, the Ground of Being, Emmanuel, God with us. There are many ways to describe the depth of Reality, just like there are many ways to describe what it means to love someone and to be loved. Some of the old images of God may no longer speak to contemporary people; but God has not abandoned us. And we should not abandon God. We simply need to reflect on better ways of conceptualizing and speaking about our experience of the Divine.
 
I still remember the comment from Dag Hammarskjold, former Secretary General of the UN: "God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder the source of which is beyond all reason."
 
Our communities of faith - like our schools, study groups, and our parishes - should be centers of excellence where people speak courageously about their awareness of the Divine Presence through personal shared faith stories, through drama, music and art. And through deep reflection. We should invite and welcome the questioners and the seekers. We need to listen to young people at the start of their adult lives and to older people, confronting their life transitions.
 
Regardless of our place in the human journey, The Gospels remind us that God lives and walks with all men and women: all races, all nationalities. God is not focused on gender or sexual orientation. Matthew 25 is very clear: "'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these, who are members of my family, you did it to me.'"
 
Christian spirituality is committed to the search for truth within a healthy multicultural and multi-religious pluralism.
 
Christian spirituality sees no conflict between faith and reason, between the heart and the intellect, between belief and knowledge.
 
Christian spirituality, of course, is the message of Advent and the Joy of Christmas!
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John A. Dick, Ph.D., S.T.D. (ARCC Vice President and Treasurer)  is a historical theologian - retired from the Catholic University of Leuven and the University of Ghent
 
 
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