Enriching One’s Faith With Practices From Another Faith Tradition

The May 2013 edition of U.S. Catholic Magazine has a nice piece written by Heather Grennan Gary titled Spiritual exercises: Can other religious practices strengthen your Catholic core? I have to confess that I was interviewed for the piece so many months ago that I had forgotten about it until I got the e-mail that it had been published!

Gray interviewed several Catholics, in addition to me, who in various ways incorporate into their prayer practices drawn from other faith traditions.

One of the segments of her piece talks about how to assess resources from other traditions. “The essential question Catholics need to ask when it comes to assessing a resource from outside their tradition, suggests Paulist Father Thomas Ryan, is what effect it will have on the coherence and integrity of their faith.” Fr. Ryan makes a point I often make when I am talking about Growing in Love and Wisdom, cautioning against rejecting outright non-Catholic resources:

“I do think there is a difference between syncretism and enrichment,” he says, pointing to a key theme that runs through Pope John Paul II’s encyclicals Dominum et Vivificantem (1986) and Redemptoris Missio (1990)—that the Holy Spirit is present and active everywhere in the world, not just within the church. “The seeds of the Word are out there. We ought to have our antennae up for what might be edifying and beneficial.”

I also agree with Fr. Ryan that “the interplay between religious traditions [is] one of the particular graces of our age, providing Catholics with regular opportunities to be challenged and inspired to live and understand their faith more fully—and to challenge and inspire others to do the same.”

To get a sense of how several Catholics have incorporated practices from other traditions into their own, take a look at Gray’s article, which you can access here.