Friday, May 09, 2014

Avoid the 'Spiritual'

I had a priest visit me who happened remark someone had said they were 'spritual  but not religious', he said he replied he was 'religious but not spiritual'.
I took up the theme today and said in my sermon this morning, we should be the enemies of the 'spiritual'.
The Fathers of the Church, those saintly bishops and monks would tear at the beards punch in the face those who claimed to be 'spiritual'. The 'spiritual' are our deadly foes.
We believe in Jesus Christ who did not abhor a Virgin's womb, indeed that was where he became flesh, flesh and blood. 
We believe in the flesh and blood resurrection of the flesh and blood enfleshed Word of God. Those who claim he rose 'spiritually' or somehow took on our humanity 'spiritually' are damnable heretics. 
Catholicism is about physical realities, yes we even believe, our Resurrection is physical, not 'spiritual', we believe 'in my flesh I shall see God'. 
In the Holy Eucharist we do not receive 'spiritual' food but the actual body and blood, the soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. 
We do not believe that the Church is merely the spiritual body of Jesus but is the real tangible reality of Christ's presence in the world. 
Even the Holy Spirit, the most 'spiritual' thing that we believe in, manifests itself in a real way, in the Incarnation, in the Resurrection of the Person of Christ, in the gathering of the Church, in transubstantiation of bread and wine, in the real sanctification of those who have received him. 
We are not called to 'spiritually' feed hungry but actually do it, we are not called to 'spiritually' instruct the ignorant but to actually do it, nor to be spiritually chaste but to actually be chaste. Indeed we are not called to have a 'spiritual life' but to have Life. The Holy Spirit always manifests itself in the flesh.
At all cost avoid those who speak of the 'spiritual' they are and have always been the enemies of real flesh and blood Christians!
Warning: There is a small degree of rhetorical  irony in this post


Anachronistic Autistic said...

Argh! The "spiritual but not religious" thing drives me nuts! I've come to associate it with the sort of people who like to wave a few Buddhist prayer flags and dabble with Ouija boards but then run off to the nearest priest for help when they get into trouble.

They are the one-night stands of belief: flitting from one appealing notion to another without ever making a commitment, and picking up and spreading lots of unpleasant things as they go.

JARay said...

I remember my "penny catechism" which said that we receive the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion.
Now the divinity of Jesus Christ is somewhat spiritual I would have thought!!
In other words, let us not overdo the "Down with the spiritual" stuff. I know what you are driving least, I think that I do. But I think that I can truly say that I really, really do hope to "see" God long before my soul is re-united with my flesh at the resurrection which will take place at some time in the future.

nickbris said...

It would make you want to give them a slap. Philosophical nonsense that could bring on a severe attack of Colitis.

Humanists are full of it

Fr Ray Blake said...

God is the absolute tangible Reality, nothing 'spritual' about God!

Flambeaux said...

Did you mean "did not abhor the Virgin's Womb"?

Anonymous said...


Cosmos said...

Avoid spiritualizing things; avoid reducing everything to matter!

Unknown said...

If there is nothing "spiritual" about God, then why do we call the third person of the Blessed Trinity the Holy "Spirit"?

TLMWx said...

What does the word spiritual mean? For instance I was talking to an Anglican about her belief in the Eucharist. She accepted Jesus's words in the Gospel regarding His body and blood, but rejected the literal interpretation and said that Jesus meant these words in a spiritual way. Now underlying her thinking was the assumption that the spiritual reality of the Eucharist is not a reality at all, therefore she considered Catholic adoration of the Eucharist to be misplaced on this basis. When Christ states that the host form is Himself, then it is. He simply says the word and the reality is as He says. This is my body... etc The Church possesses and administers spiritual goods. These are realities and they are spiritual. There are spiritual works of mercy. These works exist in reality. So I suppose this is a longwinded way of saying that spiritual realities are realities. Heretics/the faithless/ infidels of course think and treat them as nought because they have no supernatural faith. However I don't think we should relinquish the meaning of our words to their understanding. I think that is what you are doing so I would disagree.

Православный физик said...


JARay said...

I'm with Brother Gabriel and Ma Tucker.
Spiritual does not mean non existent. The Holy Spirit infuses the Church. He infuses us when we are in a State of Grace. The gift of Grace is a spiritual reality. I cannot touch it in a physical sense.
The penny catechism tells us that the things we must fight against are the world, the flesh and the devil and there's quite a bit of the physical about those things.

A.R. said...

I thought this was an interesting take on the "spiritual but not religious" problem from Silverstream priory:

Anonymous said...

"We believe in Jesus Christ who did abhor a Virgin's womb, indeed that was where he became flesh, flesh and blood."

Methinks you meant the opposite, Fr. Ray

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

I think this is why 'traditional' Catholics prefer Holy 'Ghost' to Holy 'Spirit'. A ghost is, after all a person, whereas a spirit might not be - and certainly these days, has come to mean a lot of things. the spirit of assisi, of vii, of modernism, of almost anything that is completely abstract, in fact almost anything BUT a Person.

Unknown said...

What a wonderful antidote to the homily I heard this morning, 'spiritual beings, we must change, and progress - or die'
N.B. No mention of where we were supposed to 'progress' to.

Jacobi said...


If only we had had a few sermons like this over the past fifty years, the Church wouldn’t be going down the plug hole, oh sorry, descending into confused relativism, the way it is today.

When religion declines, as it appears to be doing, it is not replaced with detached scientific-based reason, or with ”spirituality”, whatever that is, but with primitive paganism.

If I may paraphrase Churchill, the world might well will sink into a new Dark Age made all the more protracted by the lights of perverted science.

GOR said...

I hear you, Father.

The "I'm spiritual but not religious" is akin to that other excuse - for excuse it is - "I don't have to go to church to pray."

The Keeper said...

Are Catholics abandoning their belief in the spiritual? Of course not, we are just abandoning consistency and non-contradiction!

Think with mercy and love, not reason and logic!

Anita Moore said...

CSR said...Think with mercy and love, not reason and logic!

So much for Aquinas. Wasn't it Luther who said reason is the devil's whore?

Unknown said...

“At all cost avoid those who speak of the 'spiritual' they are and have always been the enemies of real flesh and blood Christians!”

Are we Christians to consider “enemies” the hundreds upon hundreds Fathers, saintly Bishops, Monks, venerable Saints, Doctors of the Church and holy spiritual writers throughout the 2000 year history of the Church, that have earnestly sought, through their insistence on experiencing a“genuine” spiritual life, growing ever closer in Grace toward its ultimate end - union in Love with the Absolute Reality - the “I Am”?

Of course not. Perhaps a better answer would be that we Catholics are BOTH a “religious” AND a “spiritual” people.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Do read the red writing at the bottom of the post!

Unknown said...

Well understood, Father. However, it seems that many of those responding to your article, might not fully appreciate or grasp your subtle literary technique to convey sarcasm or satire. So, I am just clarifying and expanding a simple truth, one that I know that we both hold to be true.

Anonymous said...

There is no love and mercy without reason.

epsilon said...

Dear Fr Blake
Please publicise this urgent petition even though it's 'the 11th hour' to stop the Harvard insanity:

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Unknown said...

I too never noticed the part about 'irony'. it may be ironic but there's more than a little truth in it. Perhaps it should be we are first religious and then spiritual. We can't have one without the other but it begins and end with the religious/physical.

Anonymous said...

Deo gratias.

And thank YOU, Father.

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