August 2006 - Volume 11, Issue 1

Connecting Spirituality And Holiness

By Rev. Mark Connolly

Photo of the sun in an orange skyI would like to share a few thoughts with you on one word and that word is spirituality. Ordinarily, when you talk on the subject of spirituality, it is directed toward the theme of sanctity and the theme of holiness. And spirituality and holiness should always be connected. The purpose of this article on spirituality is not for reasons of sanctity or holiness, but for reasons of sanity. If you look at all the sad statistics that clinical psychologists have to read about the mental health of our county, something has to change to lessen the tremendous increase in the emotional and mental habits of our country.

We can easily recite the fact that almost every other hospital bed is occupied by a person with an emotional or mental problem. There is no doubt that the tranquilizers, the antidepressants like Zoloft and Prozac are selling into the millions of prescriptions each year. Each one of us has to have a greater sense of control over our life. And if we lose that control we lose stability and eventually serenity. There are three norms I want to share with you today so that spirituality helps improve your sanity.

The first is your attitude about time. When you look at Jesus Christ teaching us centuries ago when he said, "sufficient for the day is the evil thereof", he was reminding us that all we have is 1440 minutes every day. As we know from the past, yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery and today is reality. Almost every other person you hear is talking about how time is going by so quickly. But when you recognize that we are allowing so many distractions in our life, that we are not utilizing the 24 hours each day that God has given us. In the Old Testament we have the beautiful quotation of Ecclesiastes where it says to "every season there is a time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant and a time to reap". That Old Testament reading is reminding us that each day, the now moment, we have at this moment will never come again. We increase our happiness or lessen our happiness depending on how we use each day. Think of this, when you analyze the average family watching between 25 hours and 30 hours of television per week, when you think the average child today spends more time watching the electronic classroom, namely television, then the time he spends in the real classroom, when you think of the fact that the average child or family member watches 300,000 commercials a year, it is a reminder that our time is being wasted, our time is being squandered and we are lessening our degree of sanity if we do not change.

The next attitude that has to be cultivated so that we increase our sanity level while we are developing our degree of spirituality, is the attitude about charity. If you read the beautiful line by Thomas Carlisle it goes something like this: "I shall only pass this way but once, any good that I can do let me do it know, for I shall not pass this way again".

If you read the poetry of Emily Dickinson, she has a beautiful line where she says, "if I can prevent one sparrow from falling, if I can ease one heart from breaking, I will not have lived in vain".

Photo of a flying sparrowIf you go back tot he teachings of Jesus Christ, he made it even more simplified when he said, "love one another as I have loved you". That means, in the 24 hours that God has given you, you have to find the opportunity for reaching to others the way Christ reached out to us. If there is a sick person whom you should call or visit, do it now. If there is a person whom you are carrying a grudge against, forgive them now. If there is a person in need of your consolation and your comfort, offer it now. This means we get absorbed in the lives of others by bringing the charity of Christ to them and in the process we increase our degree of sanity.

The third attitude that has to be cultivated if spirituality is to be active in our lives, is the attitude of the Eucharist. When you think of the fact that Jesus Christ on Holy Thursday gave us this divine gift that would help us through each day with our sanity and sanctity this is a gift we can never take for granted. When you receive Communion you can go back to your place in the church and you can say with St. Paul, "it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me". At that moment you are more Christ like than at any other movement in your life. At that moment you are having a private audience, not with the pope, but with Jesus Christ the son of God. At that moment you are anchored to God, grafted to Christ and the strength from that closeness enables you to cope with the problems of every passing day. Spirituality, for reasons of sanity, is summed up in three attitudes.

The attitude of how you use your time, your attitude about how you spread the charity of Christ and your attitude of how you deepen your relationship with Christ in the Eucharist. We have too many people now experiencing all sorts of emotional trauma because the unemployment problems, the terrorist problems, because of all the problems in the confines of their own home. If you develop those three attitudes you not only will grow in sanctity before God, you will develop a degree of sanity that will give you serenity and peace that will be based on the words of Christ when he said, "my peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you".