Monday, August 20, 2012

Defining Spiritual Theology

Although it examines and articulates counsels for growth in the life of grace, Spiritual Theology is a dogmatic discipline.  A contemporary combining of what was once treated separately as ascetical and mystical theology, this branch of theology brings to the highest level of human consciousness the relation of sacred doctrine to the perfection of Christian holiness.  The discipline is, therefore, an integral part of theology as a speculative science of God and all things in relation to God as this proceeds from Divine Revelation.

To be both accurate and precise in its conclusions, it holds together both theological wisdom and mystical wisdom.  Thus, beyond arguing from principles to conclusions, Spiritual Theology also requires a contemplation open to wonder and adoration over the great things God is accomplishing in the life of the Church, things so astounding that in whatever is understood about God and His ways, there is always disproportionately more that is beyond all understanding.

Spiritual Theology is alive with the Word of God.  Animated by the study of the Sacred Page, this discipline accepts the Holy Bible as the inspired and inerrant witness to the Source and Author of all life.   Furthermore, this vitalizing contemplation of the Living Word is carried out the context of the life of the Church.

Spiritual theology searches for the spiritual sense of the Sacred Page, especially when that spiritual sense is co-extensive with the literal.   With an eye to the analogy of the faith, this lectio divina even examines the development of the spiritual interpretation and application of various passages in the writings of the saints and mystics.   Thus, the sacred reading which informs this discipline also extends to other authoritative sources in different ways. By this effort this science illuminates in a disciplined manner the difficult to discern connections between the propositions of the faith and the witness to Christian holiness in the lives of the saints.

By its nature a "kneeling theology," Spiritual Theology draws it language and principles from the scientific terminology of various schools of theology and theological disciplines to discern the metaphorical descriptions of the mystics and the spiritual teachings of the Doctors of the Church.   In this way, it serves all the other branches of theology by relating their conclusions to the ultimate end of the divine economy.   As a unifying branch of research, it is in this sense the "Queen" of the theological disciplines.  At the same time, speculative though it is, it is also a science whose conclusions find practical application in the most vital of all human enterprises, the art of all arts, spiritual direction.  

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