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Themes in Christian Spirituality IV: On Spiritual Yearning.

Updated: Jan 11


The Signs Of Spiritual Yearning


Since the Age of Enlightenment (approximately between 1650-1804) there has been a "turn to the self" within the human mindset. We have become self-absorbed in our personal lives. For example, to some people, career is more important than anything else. It defines who they are and how they deal with the rest of humanity.


For others, it's their hobbies that keep them occupied in a world that has become more technical and at times very impersonal. People spend their lives running to or from something, to get somewhere... anywhere. After a while, purpose seems less important than achievement or acquisition.


However, there is a point in each of our lives that the "turn to the self" bears out an awful truth. We realize that our life, when void of purpose, is empty. The question is how do we react to this revelation? Some people will despair in their emptiness and become paralyzed in any effort to change their life. They'll return to self-interest and judge any motivation on the basis of what is good for them at all times.


Still others will begin an incredible journey of feeding their spiritual hunger by living the Law of God; which is to love both God and Neighbour. It is the self-giving that begins the spiritual journey. In essence, we must first free ourselves of ourselves. Fulfillment is achieved when we have actualized purpose, love, knowledge and peace in our lives. All these things are attainable when we come into Communion with those who are also facing life's challenges.


In Christian Spirituality, we become Stewards of a world that has the ability to stop the exchange between the Creator and the created. Christian Spirituality brings about, through the Person of Jesus Christ, our movement from selfishness to discipleship and emptiness to fulfillment.


Clues Of a Spiritual Yearning


I live in a part of Canada where the real unemployment rate is at about 40% and the standard of living, by Canadian standards, is comparatively low. When I was employed, I was never fulfilled with the work I was doing. On a number of occasions, I attempted to go back to University, but for some reason or another it just never happened.


However, things broke for me in the fall of 1992. I attended Adult Religious Education classes, took Undergraduate Religious Studies courses, and for the first time I began Parish Ministry; which included liturgical, pastoral and educational areas. Prior to this period, I experienced a real yearning to find a purpose in my life. I had prayed for it. With my decision to go in a religious direction, I found the purpose I was seeking. It felt like I was called to do this. I knew with confidence that I had begun my Spiritual Journey.


I enjoyed the Adult Religious Education classes and once an average student, my University marks were high. Each day I was nourished in my Spiritual Life. I had been given purpose by following this particular direction. I thirsted for knowledge and I believe that the Spiritual Journey I had embarked upon fulfilled such a craving.

Spirituality Is....


I would define Christian Spirituality as an intimate personal relationship to the Creator, and the creations of the Creator. For example, for some people, the beauty of the world can be experienced as a joyful walk through the woods; which is a special encounter with the natural environment. The union between nature and humanity that transcends reality is experienced in real time. We engage with something present, yet only visible through a secondary source; whether it is in the woods, the ocean or on the face of a new born baby. Beneath the physical experience, there is a deeper personal encounter. For many people, this very intimate contact is in reality an authentic Encounter with God, Who is the creative force of all things.


Christian Spirituality offers Hope to the seeker. It is a reminder, encounter and experience of the One True God. Nothing is more intimate than this. We must all arrive at this moment of encounter with the help of friends and mentors. If God is the Creator and Creation in one, then we are part of the Creation and the Creator. It is Christian Spirituality that allows us to re(unite) with the rest of God's Creation. Christian Spirituality empowers us, through the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ , to reunite with God. Because of Christian Spiritualty, we are able to do it at a moments notice, in the woods, on the ocean and even in a newborns face.


So, how can we be re-united with God? How do we remedy this Spiritual Yearning? Well, Jesus Christ's own Spirit, the Holy Spirit, is the Christians guide through the inner life of the Creator. Christian Spirituality, with the help of the Holy Spirit, has opened us up to abandoning our harmful self-centeredness, teaching us to both Know and Love God, and thereby freeing us to know and love others.


End.


Originally entitled On Spirituality submitted to the Rev. Tom Maddix as a Master of Theological Studies course requirement 554v - Taking a Chance on God - Major Themes In Christian Spirituality

St. Stephen's Theological College University of Alberta

Published on April 24th, 1997

{Revised November 2nd, 2023}


© Dr. Charles Warner 2023


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