Can a spiritual life be reduced to any one theme? This question is the same as wondering if human beings are really one-dimensional people. In truth, human beings are complicated beings and thus, we can assume that spirituality is rich in its depth and complexity.
As an example, how can I be “fed” in my parish? One way, and the principal way, is by partaking in the sacramental life of the parish. It’s important that I nourish this participation. I can read the Scriptures of the day on my own and do my own reflections. This way, the scripture readings will become able to offer to me a depth not normally experienced by me.
I can take the time to be silent before Mass and pray. I can ensure to pray after communion, and then just before I leave. In this way, I am keeping that Mass hour holy and sacred. In this sacred space, the experience of Holy Communion will take on a vibrancy that I did not know was possible prior to my engaging in this type of experience. In a real way, I am allowing myself to experience a “breakthrough” moment where insights, and a deeper awareness of God in my life, can manifest.
Perhaps now we can say just from the recommendations above that the more I do, the more I am fed. And I see that it is really my choice as to whether I am indeed fed. But it doesn’t end here. There is more.
Repetition is important in any learning, if I am sincere about learning whatever subject matter is before me. If I want to learn a language, for example, I cannot sit down once, say a foreign word to myself, and then say that I know the language. That is absurd. There are too many pseudo experts running around the world as it is. To not become one myself, I must engage my subject material in a rather disciplined, committed manner. Language-wise, I must practice my new language as much as possible and in many ways.
It is the same in the spiritual life. I should attend Mass faithfully, and frequently. I should participate in all the sacraments with the same dedication. And I should pray as much as possible on my own. All this effort prepares me to practice my faith. I do this by choosing to forgive others. I should pray for others. I should be willing to find those paths in my life whereby healing now easily manifests. I can do this now because of my life of prayer. It strengthens me precisely to be a Christ for others.
Now at this point the reader might notice a paradox making itself evident. To be “fed” initially looks like only taking. Feeding as a word typically refers to eating. I open my mouth and place good food in it. I swallow it and then take another bite. But “feeding” in a spiritual sense goes beyond that definition and understanding. With this expanded definition, I am being fed when I “give,” as much as when I “take.” Now I am with other people learning the Bible and the Catholic religion. I participate actively in the parish and its life and mission. I take to be “fed,” (and there is much to offer you in this parish!) and I give to be “fed.”
Peace! Fr. Walter