What Is The Difference Between Religion and Spirituality?Posted by Father Justin on Feb 14, 2011 in Teachings | 0 comments
- Involve in God Talk: When someone mentions God favorably or respectfully in conversations. It means that person acknowledges preeminence of God and adores him in the depth of his or her heart.
- Worship: Beyond speaking favorably and respectfully about God, religious people express their faith in God through worship. It may be a personal prayer time in their homes. It may be attending Mass on Sunday or religious service in his or her Church or up on the Mountain or anywhere that the person finds suitable for a spiritual encounter with the divine.
- Receiving the sacraments: In an organized setting, the believer receives the blessings of faith according to the demands of his or her religious family. In the Catholic Church, we call it the sacraments.
- Adhering to religious doctrines or the teachings of the Church: More than worship, a religious person recognizes and conforms to the body of teachings or doctrines that the religious group places upon on her members.
- Promoting the wellbeing of the group: A religious person identifies with the values of his group and assists in promoting those values in different ways. It may be through volunteering in Church ministries such as becoming a catechist, lector, Extra-ordinary minister, usher, greeter, altar server, choir, sacristan, cleaner, etc. Whatever helps promote the faith.
- Belonging to religious societies and organizations – The believe joins societies and organizations in the Church such as: Men’s club, Altar societies, Knights as well as charitable and devotional groups.
- Good relationships: A spiritual person relates well with everyone whether individually or in a group. He is a person with team spirit and a spirit of collaboration.
- True holiness of life: A spiritual person manifests the kind of love that St Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 13:1-4-8.
- Christ-like attitude: A spiritual person is truly sincere and accommodating to others just like Christ. He does not discriminate or treat anyone unjustly. He is a friend to everyone no matter the social status or condition of life.
- Corporal and spiritual works of mercy: A spiritual person is seen in seen in the way he serves people and attend to their needs whether spiritual or material needs. He does it neither by force nor for vainglory.
- Prayerful: A spiritual person is not the one who prays only when he attends mass or Church service. He has his own prayer program by which he enters into a holy conversation with God and uplifts his spirit to continue living right.
SIMILARITIES AND RELATIONSHIP
- God oriented identity: The similarity is in the fact that in both religions and spirituality we acknowledge God and identify with him.
- Religion nurtures spirituality: They are both related because it is almost impossible if not altogether impossible to be a spiritual person without any religious basis. Religion is about believing in God while spirituality is having a relationship with God; and there is no way we relate with someone we do not know. So, religion nurtures spirituality by the fact that it is through religion that a person comes to know God in the first place.
- External expressions: Religion involves ‘Doing’ – a religious person basically fulfills the external demands of a religious group. It is about doing something for God. We know a religious person by the action that he performs.
- Quantitative: What a religious person does could be called quantifiable activities. They are very visible to the eyes, like, the number of ministries a person is involved in or masses he attends in a week.
- Easily judge-able: An example of this is what we see in 1 Sam. 16:4-7 when God sent Samuel to anoint a son of Jesse to be king in place of Saul. Samuel judged from physical appearance while God was looking for internal disposition. It is easy to know a religious person but it is difficult to know one who is spiritual.
- Internal convictions: Spirituality is about being. It is about the disposition of the heart. A spiritual person is not someone who merely ‘serving’ God but the one who is in relationship with God. While religion is about actions, spirituality is a way of life.
- Qualitative: Holiness is not quantifiable. Rather it is about the quality of life. Someone asked me sometime ago whether a particular person will go to heaven because of known circumstances of that person’s life. Well, I told him, that that is a question for God who sees into the soul of everyone. Only God knows the true quality of everyone’s life. We can only see some signs and make our conclusions on a person’s life.
- Not judge-able: This point flows from number two above. That is why Jesus tells us in Mt. 7:1-5 not to judge. It is because in our ignorance we can judge wrongly. We see this in the many time people are wrongly convicted and thrown into prison where they spend their lives for many years before it is discovered that they were innocent of the crime. As we say, “We cannot judge a book by its cover.”
The Christian call is for us to live a true religious and spiritual life in every way as children of God. Jesus sets the standard for us in the gospel.
- Mat.7:21-23 (cf James 4:22-26) We have to hear the word and do it
- Mat. 15:8-9 We have to honor the Lord not only with our lips (religion) but more importantly in our hearts (spirituality)
- Mat. 23:1-7 We have to avoid the Pharisaic practice of externals and pretence
- John 4:23-24 In our involvement with a Church group or ministries, we must ensure that we worshipping God in spirit and in truth
Obviously a lot people have been moving in the wrong direction, serving themselves and feeding their needs in the name of serving God. We can be very active physically in the Church without gaining God’s graces and blessings. That means we are only religious. We have to internalize our actions and go beyond performing a set of activities mechanically into entering into a real relationship with the Lord. This is what will bring us peace and lead us to salvation. In other words,
WE ARE CALLED TO BE AND FROM BEING WE DO!!!