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Mission in Ministry 2021: A spiritual reflection from Knock Shrine-Ireland

Letting Our Virtues Evolve”

Much of our spirituality is hidden from ordinary people because it is cloaked in a language that is obscure. We could say that it was hijacked by theologians over many years. This development led to a language of spirituality that prevented the ordinary person from penetrating simple concepts, and of articulating their inner spiritual feelings of the spirituality of the everyday.

Spirituality is a patchwork of evolving ideas excavated from our human experiences. A spirituality that emerges from our ordinary human experiences becomes a living spirituality. It is a connected spirituality as opposed to a state of detachment. This connected spirituality has the smell of us the sheep.

Living spirituality goes beyond words to speak the language of the heart. It is the language of the soul. It is the language of human struggle. Spiritualty is not systematic. Rather, spirituality is a form of pilgrimage, a wandering. It is a journey that is not unlike a road that twists and turns like a knotted stick. As it struggles to find meaning, contradictions reveal themselves through ordinary events.

Jesus came to bring a new living ordinary spirituality. He asks us to embrace the great commandment of love by letting our virtues evolve. He seeks to create the possibility for each of us to fulfil his or her potential as a human being, created in the image and likeness of God.

Jesus encourages us to share the spiritual gifts that are inherent, like love, joy, kindness, goodness, charity, justice and mercy. These inner virtues are the bed rock of ordinary everyday spirituality. They are a natural part of our human nature as created by God.

When we live our inner virtues we create a spirituality that sustains us in our daily lives. This spirituality allows us to live our lives to the full as it emerges from the depths of our hearts and souls.

Love, goodness, truth, kindness, are manifestations of our ineffable spirituality. We recognise these intangible qualities. We can never grasp them and yet they exist. These qualities define the ideal of human existence. We do not define them, they define us. When we attempt the spiritual path we discover not its limits but our own. Jesus encourages us to let our inner light to shine as we journey through life.

We are living through a pandemic. New concepts such as social distancing, isolation, virtualism and other restrictive practices go against our human instincts. Can we make room to create a spiritual society based on our inherent spiritual gifts? The gifts of love, the gifts of kindness, the gifts of the heart and the gifts of the soul can articulate the inner feelings and emotions and help heal our human brokenness.

Is the pandemic an opportunity to practice simplicity?  Can we imitate the living faith of Saint Joseph and respond in simplicity as he did to the will of God? Should we allow the inherent gifts of love to guide and lead us?

Pilgrims who come to Knock Shrine recognise their human limitations and their dependence on God. They have the awareness that spirituality is always beyond our control. It is beyond our possession. It is beyond the ordinary and yet can only be found in the ordinary. It is a gift of our faith. The pilgrims who come to Knock Shrine realise that spirituality is beyond them and yet it is found in everything they do. Spirituality is in the ordinary of life as taught to us by Jesus. It is in the practice of the greatest commandment, that is, to love one another.

Let us remember that in weakness, strength is discovered; in wretchedness, joy; in the dark abyss of the nothing of nothingness, the fruit of grace. We need not escape ourselves to find peace or joy, mercy or kindness, justice or compassion, for while spirituality is always beyond, it is also within. The flowers of tomorrow come from the seeds of today.

Denis C Hartnett

Knock Shrine-Ireland

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