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Individualism and the Relationship with Christ PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Thursday, 11 October 2007 15:55
Cardinal Oscar Rodriquez Maradiaga, SDB, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, gave a presentation at Holy Apostles parish in Colorado Springs several weeks ago while I was on the road. Fortunately, I was able to get a copy of his presentation, and I'd like to share a few of his thoughts with you.

The Cardinal spoke of how individualism promises freedom and independence for each person, along with the promise of autonomy and the ability to practice our own form of justice. However, we inevitably stop to "look and see what others are doing and thinking and become more dependent upon public opinion with relation to what we ought to be thinking, doing, watching, buying, etc."

Finding God in this context requires us to practice a meditation that searches and finds God in every single thing on earth; this is an experience guided by the Holy Spirit, and occurs only when we take the Lord seriously and allow Him to guide our lives. If we do not take him seriously, then we will continue to live in an individualistic way and, instead, find OURSELF in all things.

The Cardinal pointed out that "the Christian of today does not live his life by reacting to what he sees others doing out of the dcorner of his eye, but lives his life in a postivie light ... putting into practice the gift or gifts that the Lord has blessed him with."

Towards the end of his talk, Cardinal Rodriquez touched upon "a personalized spiritual experience." He said, "Not everything associated with individualism is bad...It is because of individualism that we have the personal aspect relating to the Christian experience...There is a personal and unique way God addresses each person. Each person is blessed with a gift or given the power to inspire devotion or enthusiasm. These blessings are unique to the individual but they are given for the benefit of all people and the community."

He also emphasized the need for discernment in the 'personalized spiritual experience.' "We must listen to the personal and unique way in which God speaks to each one of us. The task at hand is to assume the unique and individual role that has been given to us by God, without pretending to occupy His role...To discern is to learn to recognize the feeling associated with Christ's presence... Discernment teaches us how to feel. By studying Christ, we educate our sensitiveness so that we are able to reach, like St. Paul states in a letter to the Philippians: 'the same sentiments that Jesus Christ had, who, aside from His divine condition, did not grapple with His rank of God, instead He made himself one of many...' (Phil 2:5)"

But these individual spiritual experiences, if they are genuine and Spirit-led, lead one to the Church. "It is in the church and in the service of others that things are proven...The Holy Spirit continues to expand the church so that it can give refuge to the lost so that they too can possess the eternal newness that the Holy Spirit has to offer."

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