The following authentic devotional practices are based on Gospel and mystical teachings that reflect the qualities of Jesus.
There is no dualism in authentic spirituality. Spiritual does not exclude or minimize the body. “He assumed me wholly... to save the whole. What was not assumed was not healed,” says St. John Damascene. Our core self is embodied and our heart is the center of our physical self. Devotion to the Sacred Heart is meant to be a bodily devotion. The image of the Sacred Heart is indeed physical so devotion to it conveys the fact that the body is a worthy means of love and a suitable object of love. This is in opposition to the implicit Monophysite heresy still prevalent among some Christians. The Monophysites believed that Christ was only divine and not truly human. John McDade, S.J., writes: “You can’t have Christianity without being drawn into a mysticism about how Christ’s body becomes the body of redeemed sinners and the locus of their salvation, precisely the mystery symbolized by devotion to the Sacred Heart.” St. Paul expressed it to the Colossians: “And you, who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death” (1:21-2).
We show our devotion bodily when we appreciate our body as a worthy means of love and an object of love, like the body of Christ, the mystical body of redeemed humanity. We are unafraid of emotional and bodily responsiveness as a feature of devotion and ritual. A bodily devotion includes all the senses as well as ritual items, candles, incense, images etc., as appropriate features of devotion. As humans, we are both rational and animal. Spirituality has wrongly been equated with focus on the rational, the immaterial, the non-earthly, the non-bodily. Actually, spirituality includes the body in every religious tradition except in those that have a fear of the shadow side of us, of sex, of nature, or of the feminine. Teilhard de Chardin connects a consciousness of our personal body to that of the physical universe: “Christ invests himself organically with the very majesty of his creation. And it is in no way metaphorical to say that man finds himself capable of experiencing and discovering his God in the whole length, breadth, and depth of the world in movement. To be able to say literally to God that one loves him, not only with all one’s body, all one’s heart, and all one’s soul, but with every fiber of the unifying universe, that is a prayer than can only be made in space-time.” By baptism we are called then to transubstantiate matter into spirit.