Course: Developing Your Own Spirituality, Unit II
Crises & dimensions, thinking & willing
Starts Thursday 8 October
In Unit I we focused on some general principles underlying the development of a healthy spirituality. In Unit II we will focus more on particular concrete facets of spirituality. Walker Percy, the American essayist, wrote: “It is pilgrims we are, wayfarers on a journey, and not pigs, not angels.” (Walker Percy, Love in the Ruins: Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World, Avon Books, 1978, 104.)
Pilgrims frequently come to crossroads, choices must be made – sometimes without much knowledge of what the consequences might be. Commitment to the journey is more about departing than arriving. It is more a matter of grace than conquest. This is a hard-won realization.
Living is intimately linked with dying – daily. We live at different levels or dimensions – each of them is essential, none should be exclusive. Learning how to think well and choose wisely is a life-long process.
Participants will be given notes to read in preparation for each session. They will also be encouraged to do listening exercises to facilitate the integration of the material in the notes.
Facilitators/Presenters: Michael Whelan SM PhD and Marie Biddle RSJ MA MTh
Where: Aquinas Academy, Level 5, 141 Harrington Street, The Rocks, Sydney
When: Four Thursday evenings, 6pm - 8pm, 8, 15, 22, 29 October 2020
Cost: $150/person (including notes)
Please register before the course starts so that notes will be available. It helps a lot.
Policy concerning payment of fees: No one shall be excluded for inability to pay fees. Under these circumstances, a donation will be accepted without question.
Week 1: Living is a constant parting of the ways: The Greek verb krinein meaning decide and the connected word krineo meaning parting of the ways remind us of something that moves at the heart of the human journey: living is a never ending parting of the ways. The English word “crisis” comes from those Greek words – life is crisis! The Chinese character for “crisis” implies “danger” and “opportunity”. This inevitable process may be understood as an ongoing process of “dying”, “deciding” and “re-emerging”. Whether or not this inevitable process is more or less life-giving or more or less death-dealing depends on how we respond. It is the natural ground of the Paschal Mystery at work in our lives.
Week 2: Living is multi-dimensional: There is a way to help us think creatively about the self and the various dimensions evident in the way we relate with people, events and things. We can speak of four distinct though inseparable and interdependent dimensions – the social/historical, the bodily, the functional and the transcendent. Life formation must embrace and integrate all these dimensions together. One of the challenges of life formation is to assign the right objects to the right dimensions – for example, it is appropriate to assign the task of acquiring a skill to the functional dimension but it is not appropriate to assign the acquisition of virtue to this dimension, as virtue is more properly an object of transcendent aspiration and ultimately grace.
Week 3: The person as thinking: As thinking beings we are openness to both transcendent and functional possibilities. A healthy life formation process continually provides opportunities for, and integrated development of, both the transcendent and the functional possibilities. Excess of the functional – prevalent in Western culture – tends to engender rationalism and functionalism. Such lopsided thinking is not in our best interests.
Week 4: The person as willing: As willing beings we are openness to both transcendent and functional possibilities. A healthy life formation process continually provides opportunities for, and integrated development of, both the transcendent and the functional possibilities. Excess of the functional – prevalent in Western culture and Western Christianity – tends to engender willfulness. A willful approach to living is not in our best interests.