Espiritualidade (também) em saída


When Jesus inhabits a person’s heart, they will necessarily seek the presence of others, as if infected by the light of the Good News, doing everything to make it shine even brighter. Every seed tends to germinate and expand, either creating roots downwards, diving into the dark and moist soil of the earth, or upwards, being reborn into leaves, flowers and fruits. Drunk, she thirsts for fresh air, the sun’s rays and the blue sky. In the same way, when Jesus inhabits the heart of a family or community, they will necessarily seek coexistence with others, always expanding the field of their relationships and the same light of the Good News. From a ghetto, bubble or closed hiding place, the family/community becomes an environment open to encounter and confrontation, dialogue and solidarity.

Here lies the core of all spirituality that draws from Christian sources. The spiritual journey is not isolated, but, like the bud that turns into a flower, it blooms and shares its beauty with the greatest number of people, families or communities. True spirituality is necessarily centrifugal. From the central mystery, it radiates its brilliance in all directions, in a spiral network that expands to the exact extent that it creates and recreates new nuclei, ready in turn to spread the original luminosity indefinitely. In other words, if it is true that every mythical path contains its moments of silence and secrecy, it is also true that this hidden treasure tends to be “proclaimed from the rooftops”. Silence and secrecy are fertile ground for the living and active word.

It will not be difficult to understand this when you read the writings of Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Ávila, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, Saint Ignatius of Loyola… and many other mystics. The centripetal movement of deep intimacy with the supernatural, centered on the pilgrim’s own encounter with God, a moment of prayer, meditation and contemplation, is complemented by the centrifugal movement of joy and irradiation. In fact, “you cannot light a lamp and place it under a bushel, but rather in a high place where everyone can see it and be illuminated by it”. This joy that emanates from the depths of the soul, and cannot be confused with ephemeral, momentary and superficial contentment, becomes the cement of any family, community or association. Without it, the group very often falls apart, pulverizes itself, and reduces itself to ashes.

It would not be wrong to talk about the inner world and the outer world. It is known and notorious that the latter in contemporary times is characterized by increasingly appealing and strident marketing. Market and fashion govern everything, command everything. The scheme of production, trade and consumption, driven by ever-increasing profits and the accumulation of capital, has acquired such a dizzying speed that it is compromising the rhythm of nature itself. Human beings are valuable as workers and consumers. Off the field, they become disposable. Advertising and publicity, in turn, are responsible for covering products with a veneer of such seduction that it fascinates everyone. In shopping center stores, everything is offered under a profusely attractive and illuminated setting. Anxiety and frenzy convert citizens into consumers. Having and/or appearing depletes each individual’s energy.

From this hallucinated dispersion comes the need to create an inner world. Socrates’ “know thyself”, on the one hand, and Jesus’ visits to the mountain, on the other, gain extreme relevance. Intimacy with oneself, when sincere and transparent, will sooner or later discover the presence of the Spirit of God that lives in the depths of each person. The spiritual exercise of pruning and grafting then begins. Prune the weeds that inhabit the most hidden recesses of our bowels. Management and control of immediate instincts and impulses, egocentric and selfish passions and interests. The exercise of grafting, in turn, as the verb denotes, is about preparing the ground to graft onto the “old man/woman” the feelings and actions of Jesus of Nazareth himself. Love, kindness, forgiveness, compassion and mercy are taking the place of harmful herbs. Step by step, “the chaff gives way to the wheat”. The spiritual path is not linear. In addition to being slow and laborious, it usually involves advances and retreats. Travel through arduous shortcuts, stumble upon dark nights and infertile deserts. The good news is that, in this task of recreating the “new man/woman”, with a single ray of light the inner world illuminates the outer world. What goes through the heart and soul shines through in the face, in the eyes, in the words, in the gestures and in the actions, in short, in the presence itself.

Father Alfredo J. Gonçalves, cs, SPM advisor – São Paulo, 12/03/2023

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