FAUSTO GOMEZ OP
This writer cites a few of the many Christian authors that continue having a significant impact on him and on many others – for different reasons.
Among them are Simone Weil (1909-1943), Gravity and Grace (posthumously published in 1952); Thomas Merton (1915-1968), New Seeds of Contemplation; St. Teresa of Kolkata (1910-1997), Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta; Anthony de Mello (1921-1987), Sadhana: A Way to God; Henri Nouwen (1932-1996), The Return of the Prodigal Son; Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988), Prayer; C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Signature Classics; Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), The Cost of Discipleship; St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, OCD, earlier Edith Stein (1891-1942), Essential Writings; St. Elizabeth of the Trinity (1880-1906), Heaven on Earth (Retreat Notes); John G. Arintero (1860-1928), The Mystical Evolution in the Development and Vitality of the Church; Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), The Phenomenon of Man; Dorothy Day (1897-1980), The Long Loneliness; Gustavo Gutiérrez (b. 1928), We Drink from Our Own Wells: The Spiritual Journey of a People; and Rick Warren (b. in 1954), The Purpose-Driven Life.
The author also loves to read other Christians as well as non-Christian authors’ inspiring works. In a world often permeated by books, novels that are filled with violence, lust and despotic power, it is refreshing to read inspirational and spiritual books that highlight interiority, spirituality, harmony, and peace.
In this context, the writer of these notes remembers the little and meaty book Rumor of Angels: Modern Society and the Rediscovery of the Supernatural by sociologist Peter Berger (1929-2017). Many of the current books the author mentions in this final section are significant books – generally, best-sellers – for many people in our secularized world. These books, which help many enter the surprising world of the transcendent, mystical and mysterious, are like rumors of angels – soft inspirational voices of the supernatural in our generally secular, indifferent, materialistic and consumeristic societies.
______“You, Lord, have made us for yourself, and
our hearts are restless until they rest in you” _____
The writer has found joy and hope in the following books: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931), Gitanjali (Songs Offerings) by Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl (1905-1997), The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944), The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936), The Art of Happiness by the (14th) Dalai Lama (b. 1935), Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach (b. 1936), The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho (b. 1947), Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (b. 1958), etc.
People yearn for God with a longing that is a natural yearning, which can be covered or buried but not destroyed. All sources point out in various ways and languages to the search for the meaning of life, for happiness, hope, love, compassion, forgiveness. Consciously or unconsciously, individually or in a community, all persons are seekers looking for inner and outer peace – for God. St. Augustine said it well at the beginning of his Confessions: “You, Lord, have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
Spiritual theology or spirituality speaks of the experiences of God and its written testimonies. The goal of Christian spirituality or spiritual theology in the Christian perspective (both mean substantially the same) is not mainly knowledge on holiness but a holy life. Its ultimate goal is – as in the case of moral theology – the beatific vision of God, who is the Holy One, who keeps inviting women and men to share in His divine holiness – to make us holy. St. Bonaventure writes: “Theology exists to serve contemplation and to make us holy; however, its first purpose is to make us holy.” Theologian Torrell comments: “The practice of theology must cause the theologian to grow in holiness. Not only theologians are called to this as disciples of the Holy One, but their profession adds to this call a singular exigency: they should be holy because they are theologians.”
As the author points out in these notes, the greatest challenge of spirituality in the third millennium is, undoubtedly, correct practice, orthopraxis. The study of spiritual theology today is not just to know, but to practice: “To know and not to do is not yet to know” (Buddhist proverb). One studies spirituality to search for God, for interior space, to be transfigured, to preach the Good News of Jesus: charitable justice, merciful love, joyful and courageous faith and hope. Miguel de Unamuno reminds all, in particular theologians, that Christ did not write any book or article but gave us the best book: palabras vivas, that is, “living words”. Theology in general and spiritual and moral theology in particular must try harder – the author modestly submits – to give to our world not only academic and well-researched theological articles and books, but also living words, that is, the witnessing of their teachings.
The writer speaks of a spirituality for the present. Christians with many other human beings learn from the past – from the classics – and journey to the future of hope by loving fidelity to the present, a present permeated by God’s presence and experience. Christian spirituality, Yves Congar says, is a spirituality of the present moment: the moment, this moment is a treasure, the only thing in the hands of each person. Indeed, as Zen Buddhists teach, “Life consists of a series of moments either lived or lost.” The writers and teachers of Christian spirituality try to persuade the disciples of Jesus and others of the need to transform every day’s life into “a spiritual worship that pleases God.”