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We Drink from Our Own Wells: The Spiritual Journey of a People – Gustavo Gutierrez

April 24, 2015

WDFOOWHaving feared that spirituality was a craze of the present and a reaction against the activism of liberation theology, I was pleased to see that praxis and reflection do go together and that this book spelt out how, using the traditional language of the writers of spirituality down the ages. It is incarnational in that it sees humans and communities as psychosomatic unities, not splitting off souls, bodies and minds as we tend to in Western Europe. There is no distinction between orthodoxy and orthopraxy and one without the other is incomplete and emasculated. The description of the dryness of the wilderness, which began as an historical account of the journeying of the Israelites and became a metaphor for spiritual experience in the writings of the mystics has been restored to apply to both the interior and the ‘exterior’ life. The spirituality represent by Mary is saved from ‘mere’ contemplation and rescued from the idealised virginity which it envisaged at times in the history of the Church. Mary becomes a dynamic figure when she prophesies that God has out down the mighty from their seats.

The title reflects St. Bernard’s phrase that we draw on our own experience. Our well is our experience and it cleans away impurities in our vision and slakes our thirst to carry on. Christian spirituality has 3 elements:

– conversion/encounter with Jesus
– following Jesus in commitment to love, peace and justice
– following leading of Spirit in activities to promote justice, peace and love

‘It is the passage of a people through the solitude and dangers of the desert, as it carves out its own way in the following of Jesus Christ. This spiritual experience is the well from which we must drink. From it we draw the promise of resurrection.’

St. Paul talks of flesh and spirit – not dualism – rather, to give your life over to something less than God, some idol, is to act carnally/fleshly. Paul talks of them ‘serving their own belly’ – Romans 16;18.

Paul talks of the Church as the body of Christ – so an extension of the incarnation. Choose between death and life – following our own body or being part of Christ’s body. Life’s journey involves other people, not just individuals.
The Exodus was a company of peoples. The Acts of Apostles talks of Christians as those on ‘the way’.

So a spiritual journey involves a break with past and setting out through desert where no footprints from others to guide directly. In the desert where God spoke to Israelites and so to us as we await arrival in the promised land where there is no more oppression. Latin America cannot begin its journey until it breaks with sin and stops worshipping idols of militarism and economic greed.

Quotations:

Spirituality is a community enterprise. It is the passage of a people through the solitude and dangers of the desert, as it carves out its own way in the following of Jesus Christ. This spiritual experience is the well from which we must drink. From it we draw the promise of resurrection

‘Spirituality is not restricted to the so-called religious dimensions of life: prayer and worship. It is not something sectarian, but all-encompassing. It is concerned with all of human existence, individual and communitarian. It is a way of life … spirituality is in fact the terrain of freedom.’

Laborers cannot wait any longer for their dignity to be recognized really and fully. . . . They have a right not to be deprived of the little they have by maneuvers that sometimes amount to real plunder. They have a right not to be blocked in their own desire to take part in their own advancement. They have a right to have the barriers of exploitation removed. . . . They have a right to effective help, which is neither a handout nor a few crumbs of justice. . . . There is always a social mortgage on all private property. . . . And if the common good demands it, there is no need to hesitate at expropriation itself.

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