Archive for May 19th, 2023

Written by Margaret Guenther (1929-2016), an Episcopal priest, spiritual director, and author.  This is an excerpt from her book “The Practice of Prayer.”

Spirituality is in the air these days, all too often as something to be caught, achieved, or marketed. Certainly, “spirituality” is a difficult word with lots of baggage for many of us. It is a word that challenges us and sometimes makes us uneasy, for it is nebulous, elastic, and potentially dangerous. It is a word we often suspect of covering up loose thinking or of providing an avenue of private escape from engagement with the pain, need, and injustice in the world. Unfortunately, there is some truth in such assumptions, but it is only a partial truth. It is important to remember that we all – even the most ordinary and least holy among us – have a spirituality. It may be bland, rejecting risk and adventure in favor of the safe and predictable…Our spirituality can be selfish, destructive, or even daemonic…Whatever its characteristics, every one of us has a spirituality, what Augustine called an “ordo amoris,” an ordering of our loves.  What do we most cherish? What do we most desire? What is the treasure hidden in the core of our being? Our spirituality is not what we profess to believe, but how we order our loves. That ordering may be unarticulated, sometimes even unconscious, but the resulting spirituality pervades our whole life and involves our whole person. Our stewardship of time, energy, material things, and relationships to our fellow creatures reflects the way we express that ordering of our loves…I have used “spirituality” as a broad neutral term thus far, not necessarily Christian or even religious. The spirituality of consumerism, for example, is all around us…Similarly, our culture offers a spirituality based on the avoidance of pain; we have myriad ways of dulling the sharpness of physical, emotional, and spiritual experience…Then there is the spirituality of violence, endemic in the American soul, although most of us would be ashamed to acknowledge it….These are just a few of our modern secular spiritualities and they are all rooted in idolatry. They have their own gods and their own liturgies…For Christians, however, “spirituality” is not a neutral term. No matter how far we might stray and how confused we might become, the order of our loves is ultimately clear: if we clear away the extraneous—even those things that are “good” – step by step and bit by bit, we know that ultimately what we want and what we love is God. We may not articulate this ultimate love easily; we may live for years, even decades, unaware of its source but deeply conscious of our love for the good things of God’s creation…As Christians, we know that our identity in Christ is our true identity. We know that the two Great Commandments shape and govern us: to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.


Today’s prayer is from the Saram Primer, a book of prayers and Christian worship resources for the 1500s, collected at the Salisbury Cathedral.


 Hear us, O Lord, and in our troubles, pity us. Give us spiritual gladness, and give us eternal peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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