As in anything, sports, fashion, language, there are fads in spirituality. How many times have the weight loss companies changed their “method” or nutrition information? Remember the “Love Dr.,” Leo Buscaglia of the 1970s and 80s, Dr. Wayne Dwyer, and Deepak Chopra?
I don’t want to knock these crazes because they often give rise to an interest in spirituality, prayer, becoming a better person. What I want to ask is, “Is this new spiritual diet pill the one for you?”
Many times, people approach spirituality as an exercise plan that has goals of how many pounds they are going to lose over the course of a year. “If I pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, say the Jesus Prayer a thousand times a day with my kombuschini, pray a certain way, then I will have the holiness that I have always wanted.” One time, I heard a woman say, “If you go to Eucharistic Adoration nine first Fridays, then God will give you whatever you want.” Wait, what if what I want isn’t good for me?
In Ephesians 2, St. Paul tells us that we did things that were wrong before and God loves us and forgives us. “It is by grace you have been saved,” says Paul. Then, in verse 10 he puts the whole idea of fads to get God to give us what we want on its head. He says that God forgiving us is the platform for “good works that God had planned before hand for you to do.” In short, good works and spiritual exercises are what we do in response to a loving Father, not to make us good enough to get God’s attention.
So, before you pick up the latest book with the secret to all things spiritual, ask yourself a few questions. First, does this latest spiritual exercise express what your heart wants to tell the Spirit? Second, does this latest spiritual exercise cause you to look at yourself honestly? Third, does this latest spiritual exercise make room to hear what God has to say about your life? Fourth, does this latest spiritual exercise move you away from thinking about you and cause you to think about others?
Remember, God is love. God is Spirit. Spirituality begins and ends with a loving God who invites us to enjoy life, creation, and the universe, in an exciting adventure of life that connects us more deeply with each other, creation, and Himself. Does your new spiritual exercise do that? If not, then get rid of it now.
Mark Kurowski, M. Div. is a graduate of Duke Divinity School and Mundelein Seminary, Mundelein, IL. He can be reached at [email protected]
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian