Free & Fit - Contemplative Self Guided Spiritual Direction - Anglican, Catholic & Sport Base

Free & Fit - Contemplative Self Guided Spiritual Direction - Anglican, Catholic & Sport Based Practices

In God we live, move and have our being (Acts 17:28). As noted by Maria Tattu Bowen the Holy Spirit is dwelling within us, in us, animating our lives and our world, when we are conscious of it and when we are not (Bumpus, Langer 2005). However, Christians today remain unaware of how to gain access to the Holy Spirit and have a deep longing, a need and a desire to pursue the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Denis Edwards highlights for us, as individuals, to be able to have access we must first discern what it means to be in the presence of the Holy Spirit. What is discernment of the Holy Spirit? Paul saw the discernment of spirits as a manifestation of the Spirit, a gift given to some in the Christian community for the good of all (1 Corinthians 12:7-10).

Edwards defines four practical steps as to how we can firstly pursue the presence of the Holy Spirit. These are based firstly in Discipleship following Jesus Day to Day. Secondly, to read scripture and follow Jesus teachings to love God with all you have and to love your neighbor as yourself. Thirdly, to stand with those without access to power and resources, and, finally, to discern the Holy Spirit through practical outcomes. Edwards states you will know the nture of the Holy Spirit by fruits. Good fruits or bad fruits as noted in Matthew 7:15-20 (Edwards, 2007).

This can be done more practically through praying and reading aloud Galatians 5:22-23. By asking God in prayer to help us to receive these gifts of the Holy Spirit and to share “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control” with ourselves (on a daily basis) and our neighbor (living together daily in community).

In order to fully understand how to discern the Holy Spirit it is important that this paper defines what assumptions it rests upon. Firstly, when we refer to Spirituality we are talking about Christian Spirituality. For the purposes of a definition for Spirituality we may refer to the traditional Church definition given as the “Practice of Worship, Devotion and Prayer which enables an awareness of the Holy Spirit (James, 1968).” However, in the context of Sport, other denominations (Catholic), other faiths and new age spirituality we will explore this definition and its practices in more detail in the text (Parry, Robinson, Watson and Nesti, 2007, Chapter 2).

When we speak of God we are referring to The Christian God. A Trinitarian God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Christian Holy Spirit is a part of the Trinity. To fully understand the Holy Spirit refer to Appendices 2 which references the Anglican Catechism to define the true meaning, presence and experience of the Holy Spirit.

It is through our personal relationship with God and the Holy Spirit that establishes our call to serve the Kingdom of God. How we define this calling is personal and in that we are personally responsible for our own development and communal future. This personal calling may not simply be pre-ordained or pre-destined and it can be subject to change over time. Anne Carr sees the pursuit of the Holy Spirit as a life of prayer and struggle for justice as an authentic part of Christian spirituality. Essentially a part of Spiritual growth. It can be seen that the traditional pursuit of the Holy Spirit is as important as new and challenging methods to discern the Holy Spirit that are being practiced today (Edwards, 2007).

John Pilch states that if no human person can be identified then its either a good or bad spirit. New age understanding of Spirituality means it is harder to distinguish the Holy Spirit and has created obstacles for Christians. Confusion has been raised about our outlook and certain biases towards what is a good or bad spirit. More simplified this can be perceived as our personal lack of understanding and may lead us to naive and imbalanced conclusions of what is a good or bad Spirit (Edwards, 2007).

Edwards defines three traditional methods as a practical way of discernment of the Holy Spirit. Firstly, weighing a decision through specific pros and cons. Secondly, discerning interior movements or promptings of the Holy Spirit and, thirdly, discernment based on the experience or an encounter with the Holy Spirit (Edwards, 2005). A weighing of a decision can be done very simply through recognizing Gods call as clear and unmistakable. It is usually when you are not pulled in different directions or left over analyzing and evaluating all your options. Through prayer and petition we are clearly able to define Gods call on our lives (Edwards, 2007). We need to also discern how our interior relationship is with the Holy Spirit.

Essentially if we are feeling pulled towards God or away from God. Perhaps we suffering from a state of Consolation or Desolation. This can be a disruptive or sweet pull in a different direction, a sense of evil or evil energy and more often than not it can be a good feeling representing a Bad Spirit. This is why it is so important not to react on impulse. Especially if we are feeling neglect or loneliness this could all be happening during a trial period or whilst we are going through purification. Therefore, the practice of contemplation and prayer can be all the more important. (Edwards, 2007).

Finally, we must be discerning the Holy Spirit based on our encounter and experience with the Holy Spirit. If we are experiencing consolation or desolation without previous cause are we truly experiencing Gods sheer good grace or are we are we experiencing a fresh revelation of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps you have encountered revelation happening at every stage, at one stage or even a one off supernatural and potentially life changing experience of the Holy Spirit. These all need to be considered with the reading of scripture, prayer and meditation as we contemplate, discern and pray to identify the presence of the Holy Spirit (Edwards, 2007).

Rationally speaking we all revert to what is our familiar and comfortable experience of the Holy Spirit. Unless of course, we have a different experience! Maria Tattia Bowen states that we should be aware of how our relationship with others forms our understanding of ourselves. She asks “what kinds of data do we notice in our bodies, emotions and minds when we sense God’s presence and when we feel blocked from doing so? (Bumpus and Langer, 2005). It is first of all, like stated in our assumptions, important to identify what we mean by a “relationship with God”. Barry and Connolly (1982, Chapter 3) define a relationship with God as being “established by the creation of the human person and exists even when the person is unaware of its existence.” So we are referring here to three types of relationship, with God, our neighbor and ourselves. For the purpose of discerning the Holy Spirit we will be focusing on our relationship purely with God as the Holy Spirit through reflections on self guided Spiritual Direction (Barry, Connolly, 1982).

In 2 Timothy 1:7 it states that “for God will never give you the spirit of fear, but the Holy Spirit who gives you mighty power, love, and self-control (the Passion Translation).” The Holy Spirit who gives power, love and self control can also be acces