In 2014, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales released a document on Catholic spirituality offering the essential ingredients to help Catholics deepen their relationship with the Lord.
Called Do you love me?, the idea for the document was conceived four years ago to provide a practical guide to prayer and spirituality.
The late Bishop Brian Noble, former Chair of the Bishops’ Conference’ Spirituality Committee, explained why the bishops felt the time was right to release such a document:
“The word spirituality now is bandied around in all sorts of different contexts, and can really mean anything from body piercing to prayer, meditation and contemplation. We wanted to introduce some clarity for the benefit of the Catholic community.”
The format is interesting. Based wholly on Chapter 21 of the Gospel of St John, the document doesn’t encourage passive consumption where the reader takes on board everything in one sitting. Do you love me? takes a ‘read-and-reflect’ approach to learning more about our Catholic spirituality.
“It’s more of a pastoral devotional document rather than an academic study of spirituality. The aim is that people can enter prayerfully into what we mean by spirituality as Catholics.”
Six chapters, identical in format, start by relating prayer and spirituality to our everyday experiences before moving into an aspect of John 21 – Jesus’s encounter with Peter after the Resurrection. There are also brief quotations from significant writers from down the centuries to illustrate the points made.
“Perhaps what’s been lacking is a concentration on developing that personal relationship of each individual with Christ,” says Bishop Noble. “We hope the document will go some way to filling that gap.”