When you hear these words, which are spoken quite often, you also hear “you know what I mean”.
Nearly one fifth of all Australians identify themselves as “spiritual but not religious”. The 2016 Australian census for the first time in history in the Australian census question put “no religion” as the first option of the boxes that had to be ticked. It’s one of those Derryn Hinch moments of the last Australian Federal election. Because they had so many candidates for senate seats, all the candidates were put into a lottery, because in the past, when the candidates were listed alphabetically, the first one almost always won. Derryn Hinch, an independent, won the seat. He had won the lottery to the senate seat and was listed first.
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You can expect that when the Bureau reports the people with “no religion” will jump considerably from the 22 percent of the 2011 census.
Regardless, this question of spirituality is real, even if we may never know the real numbers.
It seems that people who say this regard that true religion is about how you treat people and has nothing to do about church structure. They feel that their goal in life is to be the best human being that they can be.
Our goal in life is to fulfil our role as children of God. Our life and goal in life is for full unity with Jesus Christ as we do in the Holy Eucharist.
These people acknowledge that there is a “God” who created the world he also wants people to be nice and fair to each other. The goal in life is to be happy and to feel good about one self. Nature is a very good place to find God because that is where God’s work can be seen.
There is a great emphasis on oneself and being true to one self and to ones beliefs or feelings. This does not necessarily include the sense of the common good. It tends to be a list of “it’s all about me”.
These people tend to separate spirituality from religion. In fact “religions” are deeply spiritual. When you appreciate the spirituality of our Ukrainian Catholic Church, you see that our church has a 2000 year history of an asceticism which actually considers each of us as “icons” of God. Our goal in life is to fulfil our role as children of God. Our life and goal in life is for full unity with Jesus Christ as we do in the Holy Eucharist. Our Catechism is a great place to explore this. We are not alone, God who is love, walks with us every step of the way. This is our spirituality. It is not just about me, it is about God and all of us together.
He wants us to rediscover our faith so that we can have a true religion and a true spirituality.
At World Youth day in Germany in 2005, Pope Benedict cautioned against a religion constructed on a “do it yourself basis”. He added that kind of religion which we sometimes call spirituality, while it may feel comfortable at times, is not of any help in a time of crisis. He urged young people to discover Jesus Christ and to help others to find Him.
God is challenging all of us in our age. He is our Lord. The world needs his mercy more than ever. He wants us all to change. He wants us to rediscover our faith so that we can have a true religion and a true spirituality. In Isaiah in the Bible we read “Behold, I am doing something new. Do you not perceive it?” (43:19).
Bishop Peter Stasiuk C.Ss.R. AM
This article was published in The Church and Life Newspaper, June 2017.