A fundamental principle that was agreed early in the life of the Society, at the time of the founding of a conference in Lyons, France, was that the primary goal of the Society was not charity, but the spiritual growth of the members of the Society.
While this may appear to be putting into second place the serving our neighbours in need, the reasoning is that unless the spirituality of the Society's members is cared for there will no ability for them to be self-sacrificing in their love of their neighbour.
When that happens, charity, or love, becomes purely the giving of welfare.
For that reason the Society nurtures the spiritual life of its members, with the appointment of spiritual advisors at all levels, prayers and reflections at meetings and spiritual exercises at festival meetings.
The Society is also involved, in partnership with other agencies, in attempting to right the injustices that exist in our communities, injustices that cause need and suffering among our neighbours.
Bibliography for Spiritual Life in the 21st Century:
Authors of the 21st century of greatest impact in historical order:
- Ruth Burrows OCD - A Carmelite on mystical prayer most famous for the book Guidelines on Mystic Prayer reprinted in 2007 by Burns and Oats.
- Thomas Merton - A Trappist or Cistercian spirituality (available also at Southern Star Abbey in Kopua Southern Hawkes Bay). His most famous book is Seven Story Mountain pub 1948; still available from Mariner Books.
- Henri Nouwen - A Benedictine most famous for The Wounded Healer still available from random House 1979 pub.
- Ronald Rolheiser.
NB: The above books are available directly on line or via Pleroma Trust Otane Hawkes Bay at www.pleroma.org.nz
Websites for ongoing reference and inspiration: these people are also prolific authors on the spiritual life in the 21st century:
- Richard Rohr a Franciscan spirituality author at www.cac.org and for men in particular at www.malespirituality.org
- Joan Chittister a Benedictine spiritual author at www.benetvision.org
- Danial O’Leary, a UK Diocesan Priest and spiritual author at www.djoleary.com
- Jesuit Spirituality Website on www.ignationspirituality.com