Catholic tradition is a treasure chest overflowing with riches, and classic Catholic spiritualities are among the most precious gems in this trove. No matter who founded them, all are “centered in Christ,” as we learn from Kevin Birnbaum’s overview of just four spiritual traditions.
Like some of the family treasures stored in our attics, too often these enduring traditions remain out of sight, out of use and ignored. Why do we leave them in the attic instead of reclaiming them, dusting them off and placing them at the center of our faith practices?
Perhaps because we think they’re the province of monks and cloistered nuns. Or maybe it’s because they’re old.
St. Benedict established his rule 1,500 years ago. St. Dominic de Guzman founded his order in the middle ages to combat a long-forgotten heresy. Both St. Francis and St. Ignatius were soldiers whose conversion stories may be admirable, but hardly something with which a digital-age Catholic can readily identify.
Northwest Catholic’s first attempt at dispelling the illusion that classic Catholic spiritualities are lifeless relics of an ancient era is just a foretaste of a yearlong emphasis. Look for columns in these pages over the next year exploring the power of these enduring traditions to deepen the prayer lives of Catholics in the 21st century.
Jesuit Father Pat Howell puts the train on the track for us with his Catholic Voices column. “A genuine Catholic spirituality always returns to the Eucharist,” he writes.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, we’re all on a spiritual journey, and Catholic traditions in spirituality are trustworthy guides to help us avoid pitfalls.
In the months ahead, we will include suggested resources with all of our features to help readers reclaim the rich and beautiful treasures of Catholic spirituality.
Greg Magnoni was the founding editor and associate publisher of Northwest Catholic until 2018.