There are many people who have added their voices to the long-time debate about religion versus spirituality. I think that a recent video posted on Youtube makes that even more apparent. Yet the truth of the matter is that you cannot have religion without spirituality. Allow me to explain.
If one looks at Roman Catholicism, one person sees that there are many different charisms. Each of these charisms is a gift that has been given to a particular person, religious Order, or the Church as a whole institution. For example, the special gift that was given to St. Dominic and the Dominicans is the charism of preaching. Meanwhile, St. John Baptist de La Salle and the Brothers of the Christian Schools have the special charism of teaching.
Delving further into different religious Orders, we find that each of them reflects the spirit of the founder. For example, St. John Baptist de La Salle was a man who was extremely practical. Reading through his letters, I am consistently astounded by how short they are. He was not long-winded nor did he wish to beat around the bus when he could address problems head on. This same spirit has prevailed among the Brothers of the Christian Schools. They are intensely practical men who seek to find solutions to the problems that they find at their schools.
Each Order, therefore, has a special charism and that charism as well as its reflection n the life of Order is what is called spirituality. For example, we constantly talk about Carmelite, Dominican, Franciscan, or La Sallian spirituality, but what is the one thing that unites these various world views together? What is the glue that has bound Orders to their founders?
The answer to these questions is simple: the Catholic Church. It was in the Catholic Church and through the working of the Holy Ghost that each of the founders received a particular vocation to found an Order to serve the Church’s needs. They did not sit down and say, “Well, I’m going to solve this problem today and I’m going to be a spiritual person while I do it.” No. Rather, it was God who spoke directly to them and they were pulled by the Spirit to respond to His Call.
Each of us is called by God and each of us has a vocation to discern. Within that vocation, we will find the spirituality that will lead us to Him. Yet it is within the Church that we find these precious gifts. Therefore, you cannot divorce spirituality from religion because there is One Way, One Truth, and One Life.