It is easy, at this historical juncture, to encounter a mediocre approach to spiritual life in the experience of faith. This emerges more clearly from the almost spasmodic search for alternative forms of spirituality which, very often, not only pervert the very experience of faith, but almost declare its inconsistency for the concrete life of the people.
It is a bit like what is told in a famous episode of the Gospel, where the disciples, at the end of an intense day in which Jesus spoke to thousands of people, feel the urgency to advise him something tremendously concrete: «The place it is deserted and it is already late; dismiss the crowds to go into the villages to buy food” (Mt 14:15). In practice, the disciples think that Jesus can entertain the crowds but cannot feed their real and concrete hunger.
If an experience of faith does not satisfy the deepest needs of the human heart such as the need for meaning, to feel loved, to be happy, then that experience is just one of many life experiences that lead nowhere. In this sense, the spiritual life is the most interesting experience of faith which must urgently be placed back at the center of the life of the Church and at the very heart of society so that it can ferment as a whole.
The art of meditation
A precious text by Fr. Guidalberto Bormolini, of the Community of Reconstructors in Prayer, The art of meditation (Ponte alle grazie, Milan 2022, euro 16.80) which finally gives us a book that talks about meditation with theological competence, anthropological loyalty and existential concreteness. It is precisely Father Bormolini who points out to us that
«If it is also true that sometimes some religious apparatuses suffocate the freedom of spiritual research, it is equally true that over the centuries it has been religions, from East to West, who have preserved and handed over to our times ancient and precious wisdom and spiritual experiences. Therefore, it is more honest to say that the spiritual dimension is universal, and also lives outside religions, but precisely because of its universality it is very much alive in religions themselves. At the same time, unfortunately there are religious experiences emptied of true spirituality, flattened on formalism and sterile ritualisms or, even worse, practiced as a mere form of social and cultural belonging to even end up in the use of religion as an instrument of power and as a space of political identification» (p. 56).
However, when we talk about meditation, we can easily fall into forms of syncretism or, even worse, into forms of authentic spiritual deviance which, with the commendable desire to treasure all that history and the various traditions have given us, end betrays its true purpose.
Bormolini shows us that Christianity has nothing to envy to other spiritual traditions precisely in the experience of meditation and, at the same time, shows us that only those who actually enter the depths of spiritual life and what it opens up can banish any attitude of closure or prejudice towards spiritual experiences that are sometimes very distant from us.
It is not a question of saying that one thing is as good as another, but that starting precisely from the Pauline conviction «that everything was done through him (Jesus) and in view of him. He is before all things and they all exist in him” (Col 1:16-17), then we can also navigate in cultural and spiritual experiences very distant from us, certain of being able to grasp a red thread that binds things in profound way.
The most concrete spirituality
We must be grateful to Guidalberto Bormolini because, in times when the maximum of the inner world is reduced to slogans that have the sole function of exciting for a moment, he instead offers us a book that must not only be read, but must be studied carefully and patience. This essay has no manualistic function, but has the sole claim to rekindle in a serious way a right desire to reappropriate the most concrete dimension of spiritual life.
Jesus’ disciples were wrong to want to dismiss the crowds; in reality, their Master has shown them that he is capable of feeding them. The art of meditation is an extension of that miracle, it is indeed a multiplication of loaves and fishes.
Luigi Maria Epicoco presents the volume of Guidalberto Bormolini, The art of meditation. Meditate to breathe with Infinity, Ponte alle Grazie, Milan 2022, pp. 384, €16.80.