Spirituality, the Radical Notion

Mary Magdala Community

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.

One Response

  1. 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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