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About Integral Living

By Fr Robert Christo, Vicar for Communications

During a Sport’s Day, seven-year-olds swarm with a ball in the muddy playfield. The mass of children pushed and shoved in the rain, while on the opposite end of the field in the pavilion, some players and waiting parents are engrossed on their smart phones.

It is a beautiful sight—wonderful chaos, imbalance, frantic laughter, and frustrated faces. Will we ever connect again?

Achieving a balanced lifestyle and finding the space and time to integrate self, family, friends, community, creation, God, and Church is becoming more difficult than ever.

One has to rediscover it, demand it, cultivate it. One must consciously and joyfully reconnect to living life holistically and to the fullest (Jn 10:10).

Christian tradition teaches that human life is made up of many dimensions—the physical, spiritual, mental, and psychological. Splitting the soul from the body, often referred to as ‘Dualism’, is refuted in the Church’s teachings.

Indeed, both body and soul are made by God, who in Genesis 1:31, saw everything that He has made and behold, it was good.

The Second Vatican Council, in its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Guadium et Spes (GS), meaning ‘Joy and Hope’), warns of the grave errors of our times by reminding us that we are citizens of “two cities”.

“They are mistaken who, knowing that we have here no abiding city but seek one which is to come, think that they may therefore shirk their earthly responsibilities. For they are forgetting that by the faith itself they are more obliged than ever to measure up to these duties, each according to his proper vocation” (43, GS).

The Incarnation further emphasises that we are indeed “citizens of two cities” for it embodies the belief that Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, also known as God, the Son or the Logos (Greek for ‘word’), “was made flesh,” conceived in the womb of a woman, the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos (Greek for ‘God-bearer’).

Simply put, Jesus Christ incarnated into space and time His whole being—be it at the carpenter’s shop, ‘liming with the crew at dinner time’ or worshipping at the Temple, and He has thus sanctified all matter, at all levels.

In Pope Paul VI’s 1975 missionary encyclical Evangelii Nuntiandi, Catholic missiology officially embraced human development and integral living as a central part of Christian mission.

Later, Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ has even linked the concern for ecology to the plight to the poor, thereby making the concern and care for creation (Gen 1:13), a responsibility of all.

Integral living is therefore a true way of living rooted in Catholic spirituality. It is about shifting our mindset and (re-)discovering within ourselves these multifaceted facilities toward building a more holistic, human, and harmonious manifestation in our daily lifestyle.

Integral living really takes on a human-centred development perspective that makes every person, created in the image and likeness of God sanctified, by becoming “more human”.

It is ultimately seeking to promote the common good of the whole person and of every person in one’s earthly state. It will thus involve the well-being of each person in every dimension: economic, political, social, ecological, and spiritual.

Today, Catholic media ministries must play a significant role in this mission by (in)forming and influencing people’s attitudes and behaviour towards this holistic spirituality.

To this end, CAMSEL, the communication arm of the Archdiocese of Port of Spain is totally committed.