A Treasury of Russian Spirituality

A Treasury of Russian Spirituality

A Treasury of Russian Spirituality

A Treasury of Russian Spirituality

Excerpt

The term "spirituality" is used in various senses. In the broadest, it defins the loftiest moral and intellectual qualities of man in his relation to God and to nature, to himself and to his fellow-men. In social or cultural life, spirituality in this sense finds expression in the philosophy, art, and ethic of a nation or of a civilization. Wordsworth or Keats, for example, is highly representative of English spirituality as it is expressed in the Romantic Movement of the nineteenth century.

In its stricter, or narrower, connotation, spirituality is applied to the religious life in its innermost and deepest strata, the life with God and all spiritual experiences arising from this source. Prayer is the center, the core, of spirituality -- and this is true not of mystical prayer alone. As a matter of fact, mysticism as the experience of union with God (a feature of many religions besides Christianity) is a rare phenomenon in religious life. It is true, of course, that the spiritual energies generated by this prayer of union do not remain sealed in the cell of the contemplative saint but diffuse themselves, sometimes fructifying very remote areas in the civilized world of his age. The spiritual influences exerted by St. Francis and St. Teresa are historical examples of this, and in our own day a non-Christian, Eastern mysticism, emanating from India, is seeping into an English literature lately emancipated from the Puritan tradition, with results not wholly salutary. Nevertheless the most powerful influence upon a people is exercised, not by the mystical, but by the common kind of prayer, by the attitude of the ordinary man towards God, in his prayer and in his moral life. Here also the saints, the heroically spiritual, are leaders; but chiefly such of them as stand on common ground with the men of their time; who can share more or less freely their spiritual experience with their fellow-men.

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