Thursday, May 24, 2007

Devotional Practices, Church Traditions, and More: What do YOU think?

There has been some rather heated discussion on phatmass lately about different devotions in the Church. Before I dive into the whole affair, I'll give you a brief overview of what exactly a devotion is. Via Wikipedia:
Catholic devotions are prayer forms which are not part of the official public liturgy of the Church but are part of the popular spiritual practices of Catholics. Many are officially sanctioned by the Church as profitable for spiritual growth but not necessary for salvation.
Now, to be clear, the practices which are currently being addressed, were at one time required by the Church of all Catholics. However, these particular practices were dropped in the 1969 revision of the Roman Calendar. I won't go into all the little details of this fuss (since you can read it all for yourself via the link provided) but it does raise an interesting point that I'd like to hear discussed further.

I've been trying to put together my thoughts on the matter for several days now but (as I've mentioned several times already) I have been quite busy. Here's my proposal though: YOU tell ME what you think about all of this. Where do you fall in the mix of opinions? If you have a blog and would rather post your thought(s) there, just drop me a link and let me know where to find it. Otherwise, drop a line in my comments. Is there even reason for a fuss?

Basically the way I see it is this: there are some customs and traditions which are very beautiful that are not required by the Church of all Catholics. To choose to practice them should be left to each individual person without a heaping of guilt from his or her neighbor. To encourage or promote a certain devotion is one thing. To say that someone is striving for the minimum in not practicing or observing every custom or tradition is just ridiculous. I make it a point never to belittle someone's spiritual life. I know not the state of their soul or the innermost intentions of their heart. God alone knows.

There are many people I know who do not 'bother with' an extraordinary amount of devotions simply because they feel it hinders them in their spiritual life more than it helps. They focus too much on how much they are doing and not enough on the meaning behind the things they are doing. They don't grow closer to God -- they grow further away. No good! These things should IMPROVE your relationship with God!

Sacrifice is great and I never said each practice needed to be gratifying. However, if you are focused on doing the action alone and not so much on growing in the action, you might as well not bother.

And some would probably argue that they are looking to grow more than I am because they practice more devotion than I do. But this is the way I see that: If you play five sports, you must practice five sports. It is likely that you will never be the best at any of them but only mediocre or perhaps good at them all. If I play one sport, however, while you play five, chances are higher that I am going to be the best at my one sport while you are just average at the others. I would rather work on one thing and commit to it with my whole self than to spread myself so thin that I'm not really benefiting to the fullest potential with any of them.

What do you think, dear reader? Do tell.


Blogger Julie D. said...

I agree with you. As a convert, I have been the target of people who were "shocked" that I didn't practice some devotion or other that was dear to their hearts. Personally, that is the thing I love about the Church. She treats us like adults, giving us a wide range of tools to use if we wish and lets us work our way toward what works best in getting ourselves close to God.

The reason so many mandated things were dropped is that they were being marked off a list as "done" by too many people in a Pharisee-ic (not a word, I know!) way without going to the "heart" of the matter.

Whatever happened to "judge not that you are not judged?" :-)

5/25/2007 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger Daughter of St. John said...

Hmmmm, food for thought. I will get on this!

6/01/2007 07:10:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home