What the Spirit is Saying to The Church

photo by Nikola Jovanovic from
photo by Nikola Jovanovic from

Cultivating Christian Spirituality, Part 1

Anglican Life welcomes the Rev’d Fred Marshall, Officer of the Anglican Joint Committee, as a guest columnist for the next few months. Rev’d Fred  will be contributing a six-part series over the next six months. The series is entitled “What the Spirit is Saying to The Church,” and were originally written for a course at Queen’s College called Growing Into Faith. 

“Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.”  Joel 1.3

Cultivating Christian spirituality in young people is something that parents, lay leaders, and the clergy have been trying to do, with varying degrees of success, for generations. In his article, “A noble quest: cultivating, Christian spirituality in Catholic adolescents and the usefulness of 12 pastoral practices,” author David Canales offers 12 spiritual virtues, traits, practices and disciplines for cultivating spirituality in young people.

Bible time: “From strength to strength” – a saying from Psalm 84:7

“The Bible is the most treasured book within Christianity and there is no reservation about its positive impact on spirituality.” Walter Brueggemann wrote, “The Bible provides (youth) with an alternative identity, and alternative way of understanding (themselves), and alternative way of relating to the world. The sacred Scriptures offer a radical and uncompromising challenge to the ordinary ways of self-understanding. The Word of God invites youth to join in and to participate in the ongoing pilgrimage of those who in the shattering of history, caring in ways which matter, secured by the covenanting God who is likewise on pilgrimage with you in history.” 

Contemplation: “Our lives are lived forward and understood backwards” from the writings of Søren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher and theologian in the mid 1800s.

God works in the stillness and quietness of the human heart and contemplation is an experience of “being present” to God or “being caught up” with God. Spending time in thoughtful or reflective prayer with young people is an invitation for them to enter into a more meaningful relationship with God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Honesty: Jesus said “the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32 

Honesty is important to one’s self-identity and self discovery. Fostering honesty in young people builds character and helps them discern integrity and gain wisdom.

Introspection: “To know thyself is divine” – a 17th century English expression. 

“The practice of personal introspection in its simplest form is merely assessing one’s life:  sitting or walking, thinking, pondering, and reflecting upon ways to continuously change one’s life for the good, with the assistance of God.”  Helping young adults engage in reflection, self-examination or soul-searching helps them in trying to find God in all things and helps them to gain freedom to cooperate with God’s will.

Journaling: “The pen is mightier than the sword” – medieval proverb. 

“Writing down thoughts is an excellent pastoral evaluative tool that will allow a person to grow spiritually.” Journaling is a method for teenagers to enrich or expand their spirituality as it assists them in self-understanding and self-awareness. Journaling intensifies one’s awareness about their innermost feelings about themselves; assists young people in reflecting about their day in terms of connecting spiritually through everyday tasks and choices; affords a relatively objective account of spiritual changes within their life; provides a spiritual log as an avenue to explore and examine their spiritual trouble spots that may be hassling their spirituality and  should empower them to discern spiritual behaviour patterns that discover and rediscover God’s unconditional love and mercy, says Canales.

Meditation: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee” – St. Augustine of Hippo.

The practice of meditation is crucial for achieving or advancing in spirituality. Meditation will be challenging with young people because it is more intense, distinct, spontaneous, and it involves reflection and self-awareness. Mediation with adolescents involves listening, deepening one’s awareness of God, and attending to one’s experience of God. Meditation with adolescents aims, in particular at emphasizing the nearness of God, our relatedness to Christ, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit empowering us for acts of mercy, justice, and peace in the world.

In the next article will be the next six practices: Music, Prayer, Retreats, Rosary, Spiritual Direction, and Time Usage. Do you know there are Anglican Rosary Beads?

What do Scriptures say? “to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3.21

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