Did you know that there is a spirit -- and not a good one -- of "religiosity"?
"The spirit of religiosity."
We're not speaking here of holiness and devotion and obedience and exercising the rituals and faith in the right way, which lead to -- well -- rightness of spirit.
We're speaking of those who get swept into such an obsession with the minutiae of religion that they become blind to Christ's core teachings. The fruit: a frown, a lack of love, a lack of joy. Such are not good fruits.
It's good indeed to be religious -- nothing is better -- if, to the discipline, there is a spiritual underpinning.
It's not formulaic. It has to come from the heart. And only those who deploy the sacraments in the correct way -- as a vehicle to loving God and others -- are exercising full Christianity. Too many do not. This is an infection across the board in Catholicism as well as other denominations.
We all need a personal and not just sacramental relationship with Jesus.
During Mass, seek Him directly. "Even in today's Church there is resistance to the Holy Spirit," Francis said yesterday (4/28/16).
"You can know the Bible, you can know all the liturgical norms, you can know theology, but 'to know' is not automatically 'to love,'" the Pope said Wednesday (4/27/16), explaining that "to love has another path, with intelligence, but it has something more. It's not automatic that whoever frequents the House of God and knows His Mercy knows how to love their neighbor. It's not automatic."
Today's Gospel: "This I command you: love one another" (John 15).
The Holy Father also has urged the Catholic Church's top theologians "to listen to what ordinary Catholics have to say and pay attention to the 'signs of the times,' rather than just making pronouncements in an academic vacuum."
There are those who, as in 2 Timothy 3, are "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."
Too often, good, Godly, well-intended folks get too wrapped up in the details, which can blind us (forest, trees) to the big picture. God is both awesomely simple and exquisitely intricate.
Wasn't it the Pharisees and Sadducees who were the "religious experts" (and rejected Jesus)?
"As positive speech patterns replace your negative ones, the increase in your joy will amaze you," was one word of knowledge. Joy is the true marker on the road to Heaven.
We see this all the time: someone genuflect in precisely the right fashion, attend Mass daily and meticulously follow every rubric, perhaps wear a veil (which can be a very good thing), perhaps attend Adoration (which is better yet), but walk out of church and forget to love; in fact, do the opposite. They will judge others. That was not Christ's game plan when He gave the keys to Peter. It does no good to genuflect at the same time as you are rolling your eyes.
You know the type; at times, we all have been this type. It is a step in spiritual evolution. When one first experiences the richness and joy -- the miraculous power -- of Catholicism, one is floored and smitten and swept upward at the same time.
This is good (actually, fantastic), but everyone must continue to grow and be careful of judging others during that growth process. There are those who dive, and dive, and dive more into the intricacies of religion: believing that the number of statutes (as in canon law) they have learned, or statues they have, or candles they light are the indicators of holiness, at the same time that they look down at others who aren't quite as "devout." Their "holiness" wears a frown.
They may go to a shrine or historic place of apparition and have such a strong reaction as to believe every other such place is inferior or bogus. New to Catholic spirituality, they feel free to speak loudly and negatively even of the hierarchy, having not yet learned of obedience (and humility). While on earth, we are all learning. One can quibble about style and politics and leanings but no one can argue that without love, as the Holy Father says, and an eye to our afterlife (during which every word will count), our religion goes nowhere.
[see also: Francis: knowledge is empty unless it leads to love, Pope: clericalism distorts the Church, Ten signs of religiosity, and 'Nobody can call others sinners while believing themselves righteous']
[resources: Jesus Calling]