Members of Christians on Ageing are usually Christians, though some are just interested in our work or support our endeavours. A Christian is defined not only by her or his acceptance of a set of beliefs or practices, but by an attitude towards living which includes seeking the presence of God. One of the reasons for it being so difficult to be a Christian in the developed countries of the West is that opportunities to experience the presence of God are reduced by the clamour of the demands made on our time, our energy and our interests. And yet, without seeking the presence of God there seems little to distinguish a Christian from any other person seeking truth and living an upright life. What is sometimes called ‘secular spirituality’ takes advantage of everything the visible and tangible world can offer to uplift and bring solace to the heart and mind. Christian spirituality does this as well but takes advantage of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and all that this has meant and continues to mean for an understanding of our world and our future.
Spirituality, for a Christian, is that part of our daily experience which allows us to reflect on everything in our lives, to seek sense in our relationships and our reactions, and to enable God to be involved in and to influence that reflection. Part of this reflection is prayer, time that we actively give to seeking the presence of God, either together with others and in a formal way, or on our own, wherever and whenever we manage to find space and time. Having a sense of God being in our lives can happen anywhere and at any time; part of the art of being a Christian is to know what is happening and make the most of it, recognising the dimension to our lives called ‘the spiritual’ and considering it to be perfectly normal but vital to our sense of who we are and where we are heading.
Christians on Ageing publishes a number of booklets which deal with aspects of spirituality, including a selection of reflections and prayers from a variety of sources which members of Christians on Ageing have found helpful.
Visit the publications section of this website to learn more or contact our Publications Office.
It might seem obvious that spiritual care should be part of our website but it is not obvious what should be said. There was a time, not so long ago, when most people would have understood the idea of spiritual care. It would have included some shared understanding of the meanings of the word ‘spiritual’, including a traditional approach to human beings as body, mind and spirit, a more or less general acceptance of a life after death, a reasonably widespread belief in the existence of (a) God, and acceptance of a connection between all of these and the moral life. It is extraordinary how quickly approaches to the spiritual have changed over the last fifty years. It is no longer necessarily considered to be a religious concept; many, many people now feel able to speak freely about the spiritual element in life, even in their own lives, without benefit of any religious allegiance or background. This has affected the ordinary Christian and the expectation s/he might have of the Church and the care it offers, including spiritual care.
Spiritual care covers a wide range: support for communal worship, private prayer, moral guidance, exploration of theological and philosophical ideas and beliefs, scriptural exegesis, individual counselling – and, in some Churches, sacramental engagement in many important stages of life. The emphasis in each of the Churches is different, reflecting their traditions and development, and the demands made on Church leadership will vary from almost total obedience to accepted forms to complete freedom of expression. Clearly, there are many ways of providing and receiving spiritual care, but there is no single right way.