Spirituality Informed by Faith
Osamu Takeuchi, S.J.
A Japanese doctor bows before entering the sickroom to see his patient. In this way, he shows respect or honor to his patient. What makes him to do that—good will or conscience?
Jen (humanity/benevolence) is at the heart of Confucius’ thought. However, he does not define it precisely, but tells what kind of person one becomes by acquiring jen.
Zeng zi explains jen as chung-shu (integrity and altruism). Chung is sincerity to oneself and shu is that to others. As Chung brings contentment to oneself and shu brings it to others, jen is love of others.
Spirituality to live out life
Chung-shu has an intimate relation to spirituality. To understand spirituality, we have to examine what a person we should be. We can see spirituality from the perspective of the Bible.
Human beings are created by God—this is the starting point of Scripture. As creatures, human beings are limited and accidental. They live only as long as God gives them life. A person is made of the following three elements: spirit (pneuma), soul (psychē), and body (sōma). The spirit is central to human life in the Old Testament (cf. Gen 2:7).
Prayer as a disposition of spirituality
St. Paul calls a person who is integrated in spirit, soul, and body a spiritual person as opposed to a natural person (cf. I Cor 2:14-15). Spirituality embodies the richest form of life for a person—prayer.
Prayer is nothing but the concrete embodiment of spirituality. However, the initiative comes from the Spirit. The Spirit dwells in the depths of a person (cf. Rom 8:9, 11; 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19; 2 Tim 1:14) and is the origin of prayer. Therefore, even if “we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings” (Rom 8:26).
St. Paul says the Holy Spirit is pure love (Rom 5:5), so prayer is intimately related to love and the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love itself (Gal 5:22). Through this love, we are able to live out a true spirituality.
Spirituality grows as prayer does. It requires “discernment of the spirit.” St. Ignatius of Loyola had a deep experience of it and brought others to do the same. Discernment comes at several levels. To lead to growth, it requires indifference, detachment, and purity of heart. According to him, not all discernment of the spirit shows the will of God.
Becoming a holy person
The goal of “spirituality” is to become a holy person. The holy person is nothing but one who is made to live by participating in the life of God. According to St. Paul, the “pneumatic” or spiritual person is the person whose entire being and life are ordered, directed, and influenced by the “Pneuma Theou” (1 Cor 2:12, 14).
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock” (Rev 3:20).