Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Spirituality or Religion !!!

Something which has always fascinated me about these Islands is this question: are we religious or spiritual as a nation? In Malta and in Gozo, you cannot walk more than ten metres without bumping into some church or chapel. We are surrounded by them, so much so, that they have stopped having a deeper meaning other than they have become a part of our landscape. But is that the way it should be?

I find that we are much more devotional than spiritual. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this but to stop there is not what the spiritual life entails. I don't think that it is enough to go to Mass on Sundays, and kiss the holy pictures and statues before you sleep. That is not what I believe the spiritual life is all about. Of course, I cannot generalise here, but many people feel (right or wrong is for you to judge) that being devotional is going to secure a seat in heaven. I'm not so sure about that. I think knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus are not exactly the same thing (of course this can also be referring to God for the non-Christian). It's like knowing someone in pictures and knowing someone in real life. The latter is definitely more real and effective than the former.

I find that even though we boast of being a Christian nation, I don't quite see Christianity as much as is expected. Even simply driving on these roads testifies to what I'm trying to say. There is no 'others should come before me' mentality as Christianity professes, but it's all about me .... me ... me ... and me again. What is this? Who are we fooling? Not God for sure. There is no sense of selflessness!! Is it the case that the churches and chapels which surround us everywhere have been taken completely for granted? Are they the mountains which we do not have?

Malta is such a beautiful island. The Maltese are, generally speaking, wonderful people but what gets on my nerves is this hypocritical notion of religion. We need to wake up and realise that there is more than just kissing holy pictures and sleeping on a church bench every Sunday in order to go to heaven. We need to have a relationship with God and that relationship with God has to be the cornerstone of our every single human relationship. Of course, I'm mostly talking to me here ... but if I happen to be talking to you as well, then try and change as well. I'm going to give it a shot !!!! I took this picture in Mgarr last winter. It is one of my favourites as it smacks heavily of Malta and its culture.


  1. words of wisdom indeed .... the worse type of complacency is when we think we have ticked all the boxes and stop there ... there is that great bit in Brighton Rock where Greene says that Catholics are the most likely to fall for the Devil because they define him and its easier to 'fall' when you have defined what the falling involves (does this make sense? I am so tired!!!!) and its the same locally ... how many priests told my Mum she was doing wrong by marrying a protestant in the 1960s when my dad is one of the most honest people I know .. its that tick the box mentality that if you go to church on a sunday then you can lie and cheat and kill from monday to saturday. We have so much to learn. Great blog and great poem above.

  2. thanks alot Mark for the comment you have posted. Of course, it makes perfect sense. We are as you rightly said 'a tick the box' nation. Well one cannot really generalise, but the majority functions like that. Religion is more or less an outward show. Jesus would easily compare most of us with the Pharisees (all over again). You can see it in the village/town feasts. Every one throwing kisses at the statue (idolatry big time) and yet you can hear them 'swearing' if somebody steps on their toes and elbows them !! And you just sit back and wonder. We need St Paul all over here again (well maybe not him but someone better as from what I can see he was not as convincing as one make him out to be). Desperately. Religion is dead on these islands. Well, more than that I think Spirituality was never brought here with St Paul, just religion and religiosity which at the end of the day is cultural and not universal. Not sure if I'm making any sense myself now !!!