This made me think, from my favorite prayer site’ Sacred Space. The key line is near the end, where it talks about good religion. I think we need more of that.
The terms spiritual and religious are often used interchangeably and most often when people identify themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious’. Joseph and Mary, as they are depicted in the Christmas story in Matthew’s Gospel, appear deeply spiritual. They use inner resources to overcome difficulties; these difficulties and challenges don’t have to be spelled out to us who are familiar with the account of the birth of Jesus. These inner resources open them to occasions where God’s promptings and grace help nudge them into a safer place, even though at times comfort might tempt them to sit still for a while.
The narrative in the Gospel of Matthew, however, shows how deeply they are immersed in the religion of their days. Quotes from the Old Testament show how these moments are part of something greater and of which they are an important part. The two, religion and spirituality, are one. One definition of spirituality that I cannot forget is that it is the art of making connections. In our prayers and in our ponderings we try to connect with someone or something that can help us make our paths straight and find our own ‘Emmanuel’ or God who is with us (Mt 1:23). If we remain solely spiritual (if that can be done) then we are left with nothing to connect to.
Good religion helps us to connect deeply through its rituals, peoples, wisdom, and traditions.