Spirituality vs Religion

These are my thoughts based on my experience. I have sometimes felt out of place in AA because I am a traditional, practicing Catholic.  I love my faith and rely on my faith in my daily life.

However, in AA meetings, occasionally members will put down my faith—from their own perspective of course, and I am supposed to overlook this because I am supposed to have an open mind and realize each person has their own experience.

But this makes me feel uncomfortable.  I want to defend my faith… if they truly understood the beauty and the truth of the Catholic faith and the Church they wouldn’t be publicly (anonymously?) putting her down.

Many alcoholics in my meetings insist they are “spiritual” but not religious.

The whole “spiritual” but not “religious” thing bugs me.  I explained to my sponsor Amy that my spirituality is within the context of my religion—that the two are one and the same, not separate. To Amy’s credit, she was kind and suggested I was lucky to hold this understanding.  Many members, Amy included, were disillusioned by their childhood religion.

GK Chesterston said, “The purpose of having an open mind — like having an open mouth — is to remain open until you find something worth shutting it for.”

I can’t think of anything more spiritual than the holy spirit coming down to the altar and transforming the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.  Or, the incense representing our prayers being raised to heaven.  Or, the meditating nature of the rosary bringing me peace in the midst of an anxiety attack.  Or, being transformed by grace while meditating in front of the cross.

No, for me there is no way to separate spirituality from religion.  In fact, it doesn’t make sense to do so unless I’m trying to convince somebody that religion is “bad” and spirituality “good.”

What’s wrong with religious?

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