Some Thoughts about the Integration of Spirituality and Religion

Here are some thoughts about the stance on being “Spiritual but not religious.” You may not necessarily agree with this but this stance is more or less a taste of what we, the Church, would like to convey.

The tendency of people who claim to be Spiritual but not religious is to treat faith as if it were a buffet: cherry-picking only the good parts and leaving the rest behind (as explained by the meme above). It’s convenient and satisfying but it doesn’t capture the essence of real faith.

To start-off, faith is a relationship. In our case, it’s a relationship with a deity called God. Just like any human reality, authentic relationships are not meant to be convenient; if they were, they become self-serving fantasies. It’s similar to a no-labels type of romantic relationship, which is fun but ultimately empty. Convenience, although a necessity in life, tends to create in us certain self-defeating fantasies. In connection to faith, when we simply pick out what is “good” in religion and mix them together like yang chow, we start to miss the point. Faith, just like any relationship, is designed to be inconvenient to help us grow. A faith that staunches growth should be abandoned. (On the side note: It makes us wonder, is self-autonomy a possible roadblock to growth? Is a faith-life unexamined by others really a faith that will help us live better?) Thus, faith is a relationship with a person; not with our self-serving, self-defeating fantasies. Faith is demands so that we can get more out of life.  A spirituality that does not lead to this understanding of faith is ultimately a cancer.

Lastly, Faith is a matter of reciprocity because it is a two-way street. Has it ever occurred to us that God did not treat us like a buffet: picking only what’s good and leaving behind the unwanted? Our Catholic faith insists and has good reason to believe that He didn’t come down to offer salvation (healing) to the able, but more importantly to the sick. He accepted us from head to toe and even wove each strand of our hair in our mother’s womb (Psalms). Thus, would it not be justice if we related with Him (through others and the world) in an inclusive manner?

In summary, if your aim is to develop a personal but life-giving spirituality, it needs a check-in balance system to make sure it does just that. This check-in balance is easily provided by organized religion. In other words, explore but eventually stick to one religion. Although God can be found everywhere, you need to start somewhere. And that somewhere is usually the first religion that you are introduced to.

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