Health Through Faith and Community A Study Resource © 1998 Ed Canda Health Through Faith and Community Session 4 Faith and Spiritual Health CC 2006 Mark Barkaway Health Through Faith and Community Overhead 4.1 – Stages of Faith Development
© 1998 Ed Canda
Faith andSpiritual Health
CC 2006 Mark Barkaway
Primal faith (infancy): This stage arises from relations, care, and nurturing love as first experienced by the infant. Caregivers constitute our first experience of omnipotent power and wisdom.
Intuitive-projective faith (early childhood): This stage begins with the child’s awakening to the world of symbols and stories of a religious tradition. These symbols enrich the child’s sense of meaning and provide guidance and reassurance.
Mythic-literal faith (middle childhood): In this stage, faith involves a reliance on the stories, rules, and implicit values of the caregiver’s culture and religion. Knowing the stories of “our people” become important for defining self and others.
Synthetic-conventional faith (adolescence): This stage may emerge as a strongly felt worldview and sense of self. In this stage one draws together (synthesizes) stories, values, and beliefs in a worldview. One composes a “story of my stories” – a sense of meaning and purpose for one’s life.
Individuative-reflective faith (young adulthood): In this stage, a person examines and makes critical choices about his or her identity and faith, for example, whether to retain, modify, or change one’s commitment to the faith tradition in which a person was raised.
Conjunctive faith (early midlife): This stage involves combining personal and societal experiences that may contain contradictions. Conjunctive faith brings a sense of truth that is multifaceted and complex; it includes a genuine openness to the truths of traditions and communities other than one’s own.
Universalizing faith (midlife to late life): Letting go of divisive attitudes and behaviors, the person easily transcends self-oriented thinking and establishes a sense of deep communication with God.
Universalizing faith is recognizable in any culture or spiritual tradition. While upholding the importance of one’s own particular faith commitment, the person has a sense of compassionate and respectful acceptance of the worth and unity of all people.
The origins of Christian prayer can be found in the prayers of Judaism.
The Psalms constituted the core of early Jewish prayer, beginning in the fifth century BC. Psalms were most likely the regular prayers of Jesus.
Jesus made two personal contributions to widely used forms of the Christian prayer: The Lord’s prayer and his words at the Last Supper.
The version of the Lord’s Prayer found in the Gospel of Matthew (6:9-13) is the prayer most widely used by Christians.
“Giving thanks” (eucharistia) in the memory of Jesus, as was done at the Last Supper, has remained the central public prayer of the Christian community.
In addition to the important public prayers, Christianity has also developed a tradition of personal private prayer.
Eastern Christianity developed a body of spiritual writings for use during personal prayer beginning in the sixth century AD.
This style of private prayer began to influence Western Christianity widely during the twelfth century AD.
Important figures for this tradition in the West include Anselm, Bernard, Richard Rolle, Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, and Thomas à Kempis.
All these writers emphasized communion of the soul with God through practice of prayer.
The major texts of the art of private prayer in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were almost all written by Roman Catholics, such as Ignatius Loyola and Francis de Sales. In the modern day, however, such works are read by the faithful across the Christian spectrum.
When God gives you spiritual comfort, receive it gratefully, but know it to be a gift from God, not something you deserve. Do not be puffed up with pride, overly glad, or vainly presumptuous, but be all the more humble because of the gift….
When you no longer feel the comfort of God’s presence, do not despair right away. With humility and patience, wait for the heavenly visit, for God will return a richer comfort to you than you had before….
Usually, temptation is a sign of comfort to follow, for heavenly comfort is promised to those who are tried by temptations: “He who overcomes,” says the Lord, “shall eat the tree of life.”
(Kempis, 1989, pp. 44-45)