How culture influences spiritual development.

Resumo: idéias principais do texto ( Espiritualidade e Cultura)

– Dificuldades encontradas ao retornar aos Estados Unidos, em relação ao trabalho como educador com brasileiros de dez anos de idade aos adultos em escolas particulares e públicas, durante as décadas de 60, 70, e 80. Choque de cultura; mundos diferentes.

– Não previsão da diferença da minha vida espiritual e a comunidade à minha volta. No local em que estávamos, não éramos apenas “páginas diferentes”, mas “livros diferentes”. Nossas prioridades e necessidades espirituais dificilmente combinavam. Desde que retornei ao Texas, havia o desejo de conhecer quais eram as necessidades dos outros.

– Uma prolongada experiência de trabalho no Brasil com estudantes e pais de classe alta e baixa, também com adultos influenciou a minha espiritualidade…

– Tentarei descrever o que alguns autores do primeiro mundo afirmaram sobre espiritualidade e o que isso significou para mim e para as pessoas no decorrer do tempo, e como isso está relacionado à religião.

– No ultimo milênio, a ênfase religiosa dos cristãos era de cuidar do corpo para salvar a alma. Teólogos tentaram entender o que acontece com as pessoas quando elas morrem. Uma explicação é que o corpo cai na morte enquanto a alma entra na eternidade. No julgamento final, um novo corpo irá se juntar com a alma. Outras perguntas tem respostas teóricas, como o purgatório e o limbo.

– Os primeiros humanos sabiam que havia algo essencial neles e compartilhado com tudo na natureza, que nós entendemos como espírito. Para eles, animais e plantas tinham espírito, assim como rios e montanhas, raios e chuva, devendo ser respeitados…

– A noção de uma espiritualidade específica se originou com as escrituras de São Paulo:. Rosemary Haughton entende que, para Paulo, espiritualidade envolve o cuidado das necessidades, especialmente para aqueles que são marginalizados pela sociedade. Ela amplia esse conceito: “Espiritualidade é sobre a resposta a Deus nos eventos e necessidades do tempo”, e é vivido em comunidade. O conceito de espiritualidade agora adiciona que “Deus é conhecido no abraço da vocação, na companhia dessa vocação, na comunidade profética da Igreja”, como foi durante o período do Novo Testamento.

– O conceito de “Igreja” mudou dramaticamente durante os séculos depois das originais igrejas apostólicas. Depois de Constantino, o Cristianismo passou a ser a religião oficial do Império e, como as igrejas, começou a tomar forma do Império.
– O mosteiro foi modificando o conceito da Igreja tão bem como a estrutura e a liderança da ordem clerical se modificaram. Com essas mudanças no entendimento da igreja, a noção de espiritualidade também mudou.

– No primeiro século, como descrito nos Atos dos Apóstolos, a igreja entendeu sua espiritualidade como uma comunidade imitando Cristo, especialmente através do serviço aos necessitados. Isso rapidamente mudou para incluir indivíduos seguindo Cristo na morte através de martírio. Depois, significaria uma morte simbólica para o mundo. Um chamado, ou vocação, incluía o reconhecimento que o cristão nunca poderia estar completo sem a graça de Deus, nem sem o suporte da comunidade.

– Para Roger Haight, a espiritualidade é a maneira de um cristão estar comprometido à corporação espiritual na missão da Igreja, que é dar testemunho da graça de Cristo através de serviços ao mundo. Como um cristão, então, a espiritualidade deve corresponder à natureza da igreja católica.

– A espiritualidade cristã não pode ser limitada a devoções religiosas, orações e participações nos sacramentos sem o envolvimento de nossas vidas. Nossa espiritualidade é tão essencial quanto nossa humanidade, e nós dividimos as duas na nossa comunhão com os outros.

– Comunhão é por natureza, essencial à comunidade e na partilha da vida. Jesus prometeu dividir sua vida com aqueles que comessem seu corpo e bebessem seu sangue. Receber a comunhão sagrada é uma atividade imersa na fé. Eucaristia não é apenas comer, mas requer partilha de nós mesmos, simbolizado na refeição. Cristo reconheceu e celebrou na partilha do pão e do peixe. Os dois discípulos reconheceram Jesus enquanto ele dividia o pão com eles. Para São João, eucaristia é a vida de servir os outros, ou simbolicamente, lavando os pés dos outros.

– Comunhão é sinônimo de Graça. Graça não é uma “coisa”. É uma qualidade de relação à qual a presença de Deus emerge quando nós ajudamos o mundo a nossa volta, e recebemos isso como presente.
(Tradução por CauReb)

I found my difficulties upon returning to the United States hard to name and more difficult to understand. Having worked as an educator with Brazilians, from ten years of age to adults in private and public schools, during the decades of the 60s, 70, and 80s, I knew there would be a culture shock. I had been worlds away from the Hippies and from the torching of universities, and I had only read about the Civil Rights and Feminist movements. I had returned periodically on vacation, staying with family and had expected to experience conflicts and misunderstandings in my dealings with others. I hardly expected my spiritual expectations to combine with those of my siblings, all of whom were already grandparents and active in their parishes and preferred social outreaches. What I could not anticipate was the disjuncture between my spiritual life and the community around me. At the local parish we were not only on “different pages,” we were in “different books.” Our spiritual priorities and necessities hardly communicated with each other. Since returning to Texas, I have wanted to know why and wanted to appreciate what the needs of others were.

While in Brazil I worked with students and parents of the high, professional economic class as well as in the slums of a large industrial city together with social workers. I also spent many years in the Amazon River basin working with both children and adults. Most of the work was teaching junior and senior high school for students of the upper and lower middle classes, but I also gave retreats and accompanied the working poor in their weekend politization workshops. Had these prolonged experiences influenced my spirituality to such a degree that my religious communication in the United States would continue frustrated and dissatisfied?

In this paper I will try to describe what some First World authors have affirmed, in my area of concern, and what this has meant to me. I will begin by focusing on the subject of spirituality, what it has meant to people over time, and how it relates to religions. The focus will then direct my consideration to what culture is and how it has influenced the growth and development of spirituality. Finally I will try to summarize what all of these ideas and concepts mean to me.

Spirituality

For much of the last millennium, the religious emphasis of Christians was to care for the body in order to save the soul. Theologies tried to understand what happened to people when they died. One perduring explanation held that the body decayed on death while the soul entered eternity. At the last judgment, a new body would join the soul. Other questions found answers in theories, such as Purgatory and Limbo.

Newer theologies sprung from more modern biological and medical experience. A human being was an inseparable combination of body, mind, intellect, and spirit. If soul was included, it was the element of life in all living beings. This same life principle, according to Diarmuid Ó Murchú [59], also animated, in some way, our material world and even the cosmos. He found this, for example, in the way the earth tended to heal itself after natural disasters.

Ó Murchú affirms that “spirituality concerns an ancient and primal search for meaning that is as old as humanity itself and belongs – as an inherent energy – to the evolutionary unfolding of creation itself.” His research has led him to conclude there was an “ancient sense of harmony” that reigned over the forces of nature – humans, animals and plants – that struggled to survive [vii]. In pre-history, human groups perceived the “divine to be inherent to every aspect of life and there existed a widespread intuitive understanding that cooperation with the divine life-force was essential to meaningful life on earth”.

Early humans knew there was something essential to them that was shared with everything in nature, that which we understand as spirit. For them, animals and plants had spirits as did rivers and mountains, lightning and rain. That these latter spirits ought to be respected and, later, how they were to be satisfied, likely spawned the beginnings of religion.
The notion of a specific spirituality originated, according to Jean Wolski Conn, in the writings of St. Paul: “It retained its original reference to life according to the Holy Spirit,” a common experience of all Christians, but later it came to mean that life of perfection sought by them. Conn believes Paul was convinced that the Spirit of God, which compelled him to preach the Risen Christ, was the same that directed the historical Jesus through his years of ministry. Rosemary Haughton understands that, for Paul, spirituality involved itself in the care of the needy, especially of those marginalized by society. She amplifies this concept: “Spirituality is about response to God in the events and needs of the time”[8], and it is lived out in community. The concept of spirituality has now broadened from reference to an individual, as Conn described from Paul’s writings, to include a common spirituality of a religious group, or church [972]. Haughton adds that “God is known in the embracing of the vocation, in the companionship of that vocation, in the prophetic community of the church,” as it was during the New Testament period.

The concept of “church” changed dramatically over the subsequent centuries from the original apostolic churches. It began in apostolic times as differently founded bodies as Christian communities. Under Constantine, Christianity became the official religion of the empire and, as a church, it began to take the form and trappings of the empire. Monasticism modified it further as did the development of a structured, ordained clerical leadership. With these changes in the understanding of the church, the notion of spirituality also changed.

In the first century, as described in The Acts of the Apostles, the church understood its spirituality as the community imitating Christ, especially through service to the needy. It rapidly changed during the persecutions to include individuals following Christ in death through martyrdom. Later, with the cessation of active persecution and the beginning of monasticism, the following of Christ meant a symbolic death to the world. For Bernard of Clairvaux in the eleventh century, “the encounter with God was both the fulfillment of the heart’s longing and a profoundly sobering recognition of human sinfulness and unworthiness”[Gaillardetz 82]. This encounter was never closed in on itself, however. It inspired a desire, as a calling, to reach out to others who were in need. This call, or vocation, included the recognition that the Christian could neither find fulfillment without the grace of God nor without the support of community.

For Roger Haight, “Spirituality, at its most fundamental and basic level, refers to the way in which one consciously leads one’s life. For the Christian, spirituality is ultimately the way one leads the Christian life.” This means a Christian must be committed to the corporate spirituality found in the mission of the church, that is, giving witness to the grace of Christ through service to the world and everything in it. As a Christian, then, one’s spirituality “must correspond to the nature of the Christian Church”[Haight 275]. The above correspondence, unfortunately, becomes a victim of the ever-changing understanding of the nature of the church. Over two millennia, the concept of church became narrower and narrower until, in practice, it only included the ordained clergy. Finally, Vatican II redefined church as the People of God, recognizing the foundation based on community and emphasizing the action of the Spirit in human affairs. [Conn 980]

Excluded from active participation in the Church’s religious activities, the laity filled the spiritual void with a variety of private and non-liturgical practices. Christian spirituality, however, cannot be limited to religious devotions, recitation of prayers, and participation in the sacraments [Haight 267]. If it were, it would hardly involve most of our lives. Our spirituality is as essential to us as our humanity, and we share them both in our common-union with others.

Communion is by nature essential to community and in the sharing of lives; it is what members do. Jesus promised to share his life with all who ate of his body and drank of his blood [Jn 6:57]. Receiving Holy Communion is an activity immersed in faith. Eucharist is not only in the eating but requires the sharing of our selves, symbolized in the meal. In Jn 21:13, Christ was recognized and celebrated in the sharing of bread and fish. In Lk 24:31, the two disciples recognized Jesus as he broke bread with them. For St. John, who wrote more on the eucharist than any other New Testament writer, eucharist is a life of serving one another or, symbolically, washing one another’s feet [Jn 13:14]. All this can be summarized as what Christians do.

We engage in the life of communion, or eucharist, when we move beyond ourselves to attend to the world around us in a Spirit-inspired process. “When we orient ourselves to the needs and concerns of others, we are being drawn by the Holy Spirit into the divine life of God” [Gaillardetz 60]. In this sense, communion is synonymous with grace. Grace is not a “something.” It is “a quality of relation in which the presence of God emerges as we attend to the world around us and receive it as gift.”

Este texto expressa exclusivamente a opinião do autor e foi publicado da forma como foi recebido, sem alterações pela equipe do Entrelaços.


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