Grain of our character – embrace spiritual practices

By Dave Henning / November 3, 2021
Grain of our character

“We need to embrace the spiritual practices consistent with the grain of our character.  Ideally, these practices will meet our deepest joy and our deepest need.  As with physical exercise, if our spiritual exercises are life-giving, they will become sustainable and even enjoyable over time.”- Ken Shigematsu (emphasis author’s)

Ken Shigematsu concludes Chapter 3 of Survival Guide for the Soul as he refers to a study of people with differing temperaments.  As measured by the Myers-Briggs personality profile.  The study examined the preferred spiritual practice for each temperament.  In addition, the study used four historic Catholic teachers to embody various spiritual love languages.

1. Ignatian types.  Representing about 40 percent of North Americans, Ignatian types approach God in a similar way to St. Ignatius of Loyola.  Thus, they’re practical, display a strong sense of responsibility, and love to serve in tangible ways.  Furthermore, using organization and structure, they prefer a consistent, ordered approach to God.

2.  Franciscan types.  Comprise roughly 38 percent of the population.  Like St. Francis of Assis, Franciscan types connect most deeply with God through nature walks, beautiful art or music, and good conversation with a friend.  Also, eschewing structure, they tend to favor a more spontaneous approach to God.

3.  Augustinian types.  About 12 percent of the population resembles St. Augustine, the brilliant thinker and leader.  Hence, Augustinian types enjoy philosophy as well as contemplating the meaning of God and their lives.  Above all, they represent more than 50 percent of people who schedule getaway time at spiritual retreats.

4.  Thomistic types.  Only 10 percent of the population see themselves as Thomistic types – named after St. Thomas Aquinas.  As a result, they relish the study of Scripture and theology, as well as substantive Christian books.  However, pastors make up a disproportionately high percentage of this group.

In conclusion, Ken exhorts, embrace what’s most fruitful in growing your love for God and others.  Most significantly, base this on your current place in your spiritual journey.

Today’s question: Which of the four types described above do you find most consistent with the grain of your character?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Focused activity helps still the mind”

About the author

Dave Henning

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