Expression of spirituality

Expression of spirituality

There are many different expressions of Catholic spirituality that have developed over the past two thousand years. Many of these reflect the particular charism of founders of religious orders who developed their own unique way of approaching God in prayer and formed a unique way of living out the Gospel.

Some of these spiritualities include:

  • Desert – is characterised by prayer in solitude, asceticism and a life of sacrifice. St Anthony of Egypt (251-356) lived a desert spirituality, which includes centering prayer and Christian meditation, a form of meditation on a single, sacred word that draws one closer to God. More information about Christian meditation.
  • Benedictine – is characterised by life in community, order and obedience to superiors. St Benedict (480-550) is considered to be the father of western monasticism. Lectio Divina, is a Benedictine prayer form based on reflection on the Word of God. More about Benedictine spirituality.
  • Franciscan – is characterised by a life of poverty, love of nature and giving charity to those in need. St Francis (1182-1226) rejected all of his possessions and founded a community of friars who lived in poverty and helped the poor. Franciscan prayer rejoices in God’s presence in the wonder of creation. More about Franciscan spirituality.
  • Dominican – is characterised by poverty, preaching and devotion to truth. St. Dominic (1170-1221) founded the Order of Preachers to help others to deepen their relationship with Christ. The Rosary is an example of Dominican spirituality since it focuses on the mysteries of Christ’s life and is a simple way of proclaiming the truths of the faith. More about Dominican spirituality.
  • Ignatian – is characterised by examination of one’s life, discerning the will of God and living the Resurrection. St Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) founded the Society of Jesus to teach the Gospel message. The Spiritual Exercises are the Ignatian prayer form that focuses on this examination of conscience and the discernment of God’s action in one’s life. More about Ignatian spirituality.
  • Carmelite – is characterised by interior detachment, silence, solitude and mystical experience. St John of the Cross (1542-1591) and St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) were Carmelite mystics whose writings illuminate this spiritual pathway. The Dark Night of the Soul describes the need for the soul to be purified before entering into divine union with God. More about Carmelite spirituality.
  • Josephite – is characterised by simplicity, perseverance and care for the poor. Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop (1842-1909) developed a deep dependence and trust in God to carry out her many works of charity against great odds. Josephite prayer reflects this utter trust in God’s provision for what is needed to care for those in need. More about Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop.

See our section on prayer, renewal movements and faith groups for information on joining a contemporary faith group.

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