If we are made in the image of God, then it must follow that we are little Trinities. I think we are: body, mind and spirit are three in one and one in three within us. The problem is that, unlike the holy Trinity, we are not perfectly unified. The body wars against the spirit, the mind wars against the spirit, the spirit (without grace) goes astray.
Furthermore, I have this theory that each one of us favors one of the three as our preferred mode of being. It’s like being right handed or left handed. We are primarily head people, heart people or body people, and we process our lives with one of the three predominant. So head people think things through. Heart people feel things, and body people do things. We’re thinking, feeling or acting. Which are you?
Yes, these are generalities, and all of us are more complex than these simple categories, however the categories are useful for discussion and useful in the strange and wonderful task of getting to know ourselves.
If this is so, then it makes sense that we also approach our faith in one of these three ways. At school I see some kids who just naturally connect with the religious stuff. They understand the spiritual. They understand a relationship with God. They understand the poetry of the sacraments, the intuitive moments of peace and the mechanics of prayer. Other kids are well meaning and they want to love God, but they seem to draw a blank. It’s like some kids have musical talent and others have to struggle.
It doesn’t mean the non-spiritual are left out. They just connect with the faith and encounter God in other ways. I see the mind centered ones engaging with God through their theology and philosophy courses. I see them struggling to understand. They read their way into meeting Christ and argue their way into an encounter with God. That’s OK. They join in with the sacraments too and they join in with the life of the church, but they do so first through their mind.
Then there are the ones who are body centered. Maybe they don’t connect so well with prayer and rosaries and sacraments and worship. Maybe too they’re yawning in theology class and can’t really see the point of Bible study and philosophy and apologetics. But they love going on mission trips and serving at the altar and doing service in the community and helping others and that’s how they connect with God and encounter the the One.
If this is so, then we ought to be patient and curious with one another. Curious because it’s a wonder that others connect with God in perfectly valid, but different ways than I do. Patient because I should honor their way and not seek to impose my own. Patient because if God is doing something in their life in their way then he’s really humble and I ought to allow that to happen and enable that to happen and be amazed when it does happen.
Instead how often do we seek to impose our own spirituality, our own tastes in worship our own understanding of the church’s teachings on others? How often we assume that our way is the right way? How often we scorn others and find all sorts of arguments to prove them ‘wrong’ and so make ourselves right.
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not arguing for a kind of wishy washy relativistic faith based only on subjective personal experience. However I am saying there is such a thing as personal experience in our faith, and it’s a good thing, and it comes to us in as many different ways as there are people.
This is why the objectivity of the sacraments and of the church is so important. It is this objectivity that we return to. Whether we are head, heart or body people, no matter how we best connect with God on a personal level, all of us need to be grounded in the solid rock of the church and her sacraments. There the personal is grounded and the subjective is experienced with objective certainty.