|Aspect of a Sculpture, Park, Mullingar, April, 2011|
Systematic practice of and reflection on a prayerful, devout and disciplined Christian life. In its practice Christian spirituality has always called for an ascetical and prayerful life in which a spiritual guide and the light of the Holy spirit help discern the direction in which individuals and communities are being led... As a field of study, spirituality involves theological (including liturgical), scriptural, historical, psychological and social elements (Op. cit., p. 228)I remember writing the following definition myself in the first chapter of my S.T.L. thesis:
Spirituality describes the inner movement of the human spirit towards the transcendent or the divine. In the Christian context this is essentially the journey of the pilgrim soul to God, renewed and nourished on the way through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who has wrought our salvation. Faith and Theological Method in the Works of John Henry Newman, Quinlan T., unpublished S.T. L. Thesis, Milltown, 1994, p. 6)I have come a long way in my personal journey since then. At the time I was a practising and believing Catholic of 36 years of age. That I firmly believed the above at the time is firmly without doubt. That what is outlined above is an honest and good definition of spirituality is also a given. However, as I have stated in my opening few lines - there are literally as many definitions of spirituality as there are those who attempt to write about it, though some will be obviously more orthodox and religious while others will be highly unorthodox and some even extremely woolly, to say the least.
|Detail, same piece of sculpture|
Such questions saw me move beyond religion into a more spiritual phase in my life where I sought to understand what I was about in a more existential and meaningful way. I read voluminously in psychology and psychiatry and in spirituality. At this stage, spirituality had become a more "real" and more existentially-meaningful phenomenon in my life. It was now becoming a way of making or forging connections. For me, then, spirituality became a way of forging connections between the disparate parts of my self - in other words unifying and integrating ( Jungian terms here and terms also borrowed from the great psychoanalyst and psychiatrist Dr Anthony Storr) all the sub-personalities within my psyche, all the archetypes and most especially the Shadow that lurks in all our unconscious. Spirituality is definitely about two things and possibly, though not especially about a third: (i) about connecting with the Real Self (ii) with others and (iii) with the source of that thrust-to-connect in God or some Ultimate Being or some inert, impersonal force behind the Universe.
|Another detail, same sculptural piece|
To be continued.