Spirituality, the Radical Notion

Spiritualiity, the Radical Notion ©

by Rev. Jim Ryan,  jimryan6885@gmail.com

Community blog:  https://maryofmagdala-mke.org/blog

This past weekend marked a moment for our Mary of Magdala community.  The moment was about sharing and storytelling and spirituality.  The moment lasted two days beginning with Saturday morning’s community meeting and flowing into Sunday’s Eucharist.   Pastor Alice, who facilitated Saturday’s meeting and presided at Sunday’s liturgical gathering, encouraged us to join fully into this moment.  Each individual’s sharing broadened, deepened, and heightened our communal sense of gratitude for the Spirit’s gifts.

How full of grace we are because of the presence of all that is Holy among us.  I write this not for puffing ourselves up, but rather for calling attention to the place of humility in our community.  How good God is, and how wonderfully the spiritual gifts accumulate for the good of all.

We heard this weekend of the many spiritualities which enliven our personal commitments to service, to prayer, to exploration, to presence, to authenticity, to mutual comfort, to freedom, to love.  The wide open reality of the Spirit in our hearts occurs through each one’s sense of the divine presence.

Which brings me to radical spirituality.  Now, I don’t do social media – probably should, at least a little, but I don’t.  However, I’ve heard that “radical” is – or maybe, not too long ago was – a term of choice.  I think the choice was meant to mean something completely different, out of the ordinary.  How unfortunate it is to have the word used for that purpose.

Remember when radical wasn’t about difference?  Rather, it was about roots and a return to foundations.  In a conversation following this morning’s Eucharist with J&M (you know who you are) radical reared its head in a light-hearted moment.  Well, here’s my take on this notion (tip o’ the hat to Bernard Lonergan, SJ).

The notion of radical when it comes to spirituality is to remove us from the structures of contents, the doctrines and the definitions, even the reflections on experiences.  A radical spirituality is about freedom.  Where is the Holy Spirit moving you on your journey?  How is the Spirit guiding you in response to the impacts of life that stay with you?  Which choices are there for you to explore?  Can you live integrally with the notion of matching yourself with these leads?  And if you sense being led why wouldn’t you follow?

Not following the leading of the Holy Spirit, particularly in matters of one’s relationship to/with the divine is to deny oneself freedom’s path for one’s future.

How ironic that the institutionalized version of the Spirit’s gifts – read, organized religion – can be the obstacle in the path.  Just when you welcome all paths that lead to celebrating union – “Church” says No.  These days who actually listens to such negativity?  Aren’t we all human?  Don’t we all eat?  Wasn’t Jesus’ invitation to the table universal?  After all, his sharing at that meal included the man whom he knew had betrayed him.

Yes, the notion of radical spirituality is about freedom.  How could it be any less since God’s plan is to unite with us.  It’s called incarnation.

In our time (which would be the overlap of the 20th and 21st centuries) we experienced this radical freedom in the life and the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  He preached freedom.  He lived freedom.  He died for freedom.

How simple a notion – freedom unites us as sisters and brothers who are on the same path originating from the same root.  How radical a notion – God chooses freely to unite us as humans just as together we are mere particles of stardust in an ever expanding cosmos.

And yes, it is timely when sharing our spiritual paths to sing on the journey,

“Free at last!  Free at last!  Thank God Almighty, we’re free at last!”

A Prayer    by Jim Ryan

We gather this winter morning to hear your Word that proclaims a message of confidence and encouragement.   The story of your Son is our story too – one of trust and of promise.

Bless each one here with gifts that come at no cost other than to give our lives in service.

Bless this community also with the gifts of openness and of hospitality.

Bless, in a special way, all those whose life on earth is ending with a graceful passage to never ending life.

We pray in Jesus’ Name.   Amen.

2 thoughts on “Spirituality, the Radical Notion

  1. How I miss all of you especially after reading about your wonderful “radical weekend”. Down here in warm (questionable at this point) Florida I have been attending the Benedictine Abbey at St Leo. It is a beautiful church which feeds my Spirit. The Mass is old -incense and responses sung in Latin- but the Spirituality imparted is new. Amid the smell of incense the presider (Father Abbott) raises his hands to us instead of raising the Book after the Gospel and proceeds to emphatically tell us that he does this because ” you are the Gospel-yes you. Every man women and child in this room. Not just me, or the monks. ALL of us are equal in God’s eyes and we are all charged with living the Spirituality we were given to the fullest thereby to spread God’s love wherever we are.” I thought that was pretty radical given the Latin and the incense☺. ALLELLUIA What I want you to know is that radical is catching on even where it’s least expected. It is my privilege to study and walk with the oblates and friends of the Abbey weekly. Abbott Isaac teaches us once monthly and always includes the new spirituality which puts laity equal to vowed in the depth of their faith walk. As he says” we are all children of God , committed to God. We just choose to live our committment out in different ways”. These radical ideas are new to many of them and Abbott Isaac encourages me to “ease them along”. I’ve shared the story of our Community with him (no names of course) and he is excited to know it exists. After sharing with Abbott Isaac I believe he is on a journey, a radical journey of his own. He has asked us to pray for him. I believe God put me here, now, as part of my journey. I am so encouraged to see changes in most unlikely places. It is good for all of us to know we are definitely not alone on this journey of the radical.
    Peace and blessings to all.

  2. Yes, we are radical. Sunday morning, since I was not attending M of M service, I chose to open the website. I opened the link to 9 phases of meditation (youtub.be/jscuH1TaU3M?t=254). I was at first puzzled to see an unfamiliar icon and words I did not understand. I wondered if we are still Christian or are we Budist. Then I took the time to view the video. O my . When I saw the icon of complete union with the Buda, I had to view the rest of the video. The icon, which I will not describe, since it is impossible for me to word how the picture moved me. It depicts our union with God, our being one with the Christ to be with God. This represents the final stage of complete union. Then stages of meditation are presented with icons, very demonstrative of what one goes through on the road of meditation. It’s like these different icons and stages guide the journey on the Path to the Union, which ultimately is like Marty said the Abbot reminds us – We Are the Gospel.

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