Some people invoke the phrase “spiritual but not religious” to describe themselves. It is not uncommon to find this kind of thinking among new-age practitioners or westerners who dabble in eastern meditative practices. As Ashley points out, though, these people have missed the great riches of Christian spiritual practice.[ii] They have also emptied moral law of its life-giving aspects, focusing solely on the external observance rather than their connection with love of God and neighbor. However, spirituality is intimately tied with the way of life. Spirituality is, in a sense, the individual path we take toward God, our personal expression of the way of life. It involves our relationship directly with our maker, and as such, is the expression of our life in Christ. It is intimately tied to how we put into action the theological and cardinal virtues. All the moral law is tied to love of God and love of neighbor,[iii] which is enlivened by faith and guided by prudence. That love impels us to treat others justly. Through hope, we find the disciplines that help us to control our passions—temperance and fortitude. These virtues foster in us this love of God and neighbor and put it into concrete form. As Christians, we must live our lives in community. Through the seven virtues, the Holy Spirit grants us the ability to do so.
i. Benedict Ashley, Living the Truth in Love: A Biblical Introduction to Moral Theology, (Staten Island: St. Pauls, 1996), 126.
ii. Benedict Ashley, “Moral Theology: Lecture 8b—Lesson Sixteen,” International Catholic University, 17 April 2010,