Spirituality

To a greater or lesser extent all of the Eastern Catholic Churches have incorporated elements of Carmelite, Ignatian and Liguorian spiritualities, to mention just a few western forms. This was a natural result of the training received by their clerical elites in the West, as well as contact with Latin religious orders. When appropriated authentically and without disdain for eastern traditions, these spiritualities have borne outstanding fruit: they lead to new forms of contemplation and social action, as well as practices like retreats and spiritual exercises. However, inauthentic appropriations appeared in the attempts of some churchmen to manipulate the western forms as symbols of confessional identity or socio-political distinction. Another occasional byproduct of such westernization was the neglect of indigenous spiritual resources. Consequently, today there are more practitioners of the Jesus Prayer among western Christians - to give just one example - than among Eastern Catholics, where the rosary remains better known. Such examples could be multiplied.

The Catholic Church's pro-Orthodox ecumenism, endorsed by John Paul II, has generated interest in the spirituality of icons, works such as the Philokalia, and chants such as the akathistos hymn. The biblical, liturgical, spiritual and social justice movements, prominent in some parts of western Christianity, also resonate among educated and more committed Eastern Catholics. Just as in the case of theology, a dynamic, new synthesis of eastern and western could be forged, but this has yet to occur. It is actually those Roman Catholics engaged in a ressourcement of classical Christiantiy - whether eastern or western - who are at the forefront of such a process.

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