Sunday, July 3, 2011

Neither Spiritual Nor Religious


Isn't it interesting how some terms get so overused that they become jargon, devoid of any real meaning? In our society we tend to have a variety of meanings for "religious" and "spiritual."


What, specifically, constitutes religiosity? How often must one pray or attend a house of worship to be so labelled? Can a person be religious without entering a church, mosque or temple? Don't we say a person who's fanatical about a particular sports team treats it like a religion? 


What about being spiritual? Can a person be so in a house of worship, or is that somehow impossible? Is spiritual simply about us as individuals and how we feel? Because a man or woman dons the monastic habit, is he or she now "spiritual"? Or can only those who are not monks and nuns be spiritual in any real sense?


Much of what passes for spirituality today seems so much light and fairy dust. Much of what passes for true religion focuses too much on rigid adherence to following the rules and political games rather than walking with the Beloved. I can't stomach either approach.


So, I am neither spiritual nor religious, I simply try to walk with Jesus and be Christ to all whom I meet, whether in church or not, treating them as Christ, though failing often. This is a Way, not something to be compartmentalized and labelled. 


Quite simply, it's why many Religious prefer silence rather than jamming the air with words so easily misconstrued. It's about using words only if necessary to preach the Good News, as St. Francis reminds us. But we haven't cornered the market on it; we humbly try to serve as witnesses for all to live thus.


It is a journey on which the Bread of Life sustains. A lot of struggle, and, yes, joy; going within also brings us without, serving our brothers and sisters. We are called to wash each other's feet.

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