Thursday, June 09, 2005

What is Spirituality?

“In terms typical of Giussani’s thought, “spirituality” can be defined as a relation with Mystery that is perceived by the religious sense as totally transcendent and yet at the origin and as fulfillment of those defining human experiences that he calls the “original” desires of the heart. Giussani also uses the expression “original experiences of the heart,” which is similar to term John Paul II’s concept of “primordial experiences” in the “Wednesday Catechesis on Human Love” where he uses this concept to construct what he calls an adequate “anthropology.” The point of departure for both, therefore, is the experience of being human, of being a person, of being someone unique and unrepeatable. The word “heart” is a metaphor for the subject, the acting agent, the “I,” or self that engages with reality. In this engagement with a reality that is not created by the self, the subject experiences its own originality. The experience is the point of departure for “spirituality.

It is important to note, therefore, that for Giussani spirituality is a response to a presence: spirituality is the response of the self to the encounter with reality as other. It is the response to an event, to the experience of an event. Its defining characteristic “wonder” (stupore) at Being. It is a going out of the self before it is a going within. The capacity for this experience is what Giussani calls the religious sense. It is what defines the human being as such. This is why the real point of departure for Giussani’s vision is not the religious sense as a human capacity but the event that awakens it. Applied to Christian spirituality, this vision means that the starting point is the encounter with Jesus Christ, the Incarnation of the Transcendent Mystery perceived by the religious sense”

- From the essay, "The Spirituality of Luigi Giussani," by Lorenzo Albacete, in the book, A Regenerative Thought, An Introduction to the Works of Luigi Giussani.

The late Fr. Luigi Giussani was the founder of the Catholic lay association, Communion and Liberation. Lorenzo Albacete is the North American spiritual director for Communion and Liberation. He is also a professor at the seminary for the Archdiocese of New York. He is also the author of God at the Ritz.