Spirituality is a modern term used often to describe a personal relationship with a Higher Power/Ultimate Source of strength. Several decades ago, people spoke of being “religious,” and now they use the term “spiritual.” The West has rediscovered this term, but it has very ancient roots in all the major religions of the world. In the Catholic tradition, there are many paths of Spirituality: Franciscan, Dominican, Jesuit, Benedictine, Missionary, etc. Our own “At-One-Ment” spirituality inspired our founders, Fr. Paul Wattson, SA and Mother Lurana White, SA, to begin a prayer movement among Christians praying for Unity. Here at St. Christopher’s Inn we understand spirituality as a Higher Power helping men in recovery become “At-One” in body, mind and spirit.
The medical ministry of healing begins within the body that has been severely damaged and changed due to the substances taken over years and years, and is the beginning of a “spirituality of the body.” Restoring the body to full health and maintaining a good diet with exercise begins to affect the mind, and the “fog” begins to lift. In the counseling ministry and through group work, men begin to experience new ways of thinking that brings clarity to their mind, and to recognize the distorted thinking that has ruled their lives while in active addiction.
Once the body and mind heal, the conditions for the possibility of a “spiritual awakening” are there. The goodness that is always at the core of every human person is rediscovered and celebrated. Voluntary spiritual exploration is taken up by many of the men to foster growth in their own path of spiritual development. This is a gradual process of becoming aware of the goodness at the center of their being: shame and self-hatred give way to forgiveness of self, and letting go of the past.
Recently I came across 12 Signs of a Spiritual Awakening from an unknown AA source:
• An increased tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
• Frequent attacks of smiling.
• Feelings of being connected with others and nature.
• Frequent overwhelming episodes of gratitude.
• A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fears based on past experience.
• An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment and live in the present.
• A loss of ability to worry.
• A loss of interest in conflict/chaos.
• A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
• A loss of interest in judging others.
• A loss of interest in judging self.
• Gaining the ability to love without expecting anything in return.
Becoming “At-One” in body, mind and spirit is what our mission and ministry is all about. What we strive to achieve is when someone can look in the mirror and finally say, “I am a man worthy of love and respect.”
Fr. Dennis Polanco, SA
President & Spiritual Director