Catholic Spirituality?


Does anyone have advice on how to figure out what Catholic spirituality one is most like? (Such as Franciscan, Jesuit, Dominican, Benedictine, etc.)


Trial and error. Approach those who practice the various spiritualities. Spend time around them. Ask questions. Read about different spiritualities and those who founded them. Pray. The spirituality that speaks to you most will stand out soon enough.


Unless you’re pursuing a religious vocation and have to choose just one order, does it really matter? They’re all good.


This is something I’ve seen on this board and I don’t understand. A lot of folks seem to be really wrapped up in which type of spirituality they follow. Why is this? It seems to me that a sort of intra-religious syncretism is in order – take the aspects of spirituality you like from different schools and make them your own.


I find value in all spiritualities. They’re all so beautiful in their values.
That’s why it’s so hard to find one for me when I’m discerning. Are you discerning as well?


I like that. Make it ones own Spirituality!


The following link explains the different Catholic religious orders and how they approach spirituality differently. I pray this helps in your journey to seek God more fully, according to your state in life. Pax Christi!


I’m proud of the phrase “intra-religious syncretism.”


The various religious orders have the same spirituality, i,e, they seek union with Jesus Christ.

However, they have different spiritual paths if you will, toward the same goal.

Franciscans are service oriented toward helping the poor and the teachings of St Francis of Assisi.

Discalced Carmelites, which I am, OCDS, are oriented toward interior prayer and contemplation, following the teachings of St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross

God provides them all with His transforming grace, which is the gift of Contemplation,

Your focus should be to follow the path God leads you toward. You’ll know it when you see it and begin to experience it.



Research seems a logical place to start. I have a quick little book on 10 spiritualities called Paths to Prayer by Pat Fosarelli. It’s a good little primer that introduces you to the major themes of the spiritualities it covers. You can also find information on the various spiritualities online.

Reading about the saints can also be helpful because so many of them were attached to particular religious traditions. Studying the saints shows you how individuals have lived out a particular spirituality.

There might also be a bit of divine providence in there. I know I certainly feel like God is showing me a spiritual path that will be fruitful for me.

The rest is trial and error as you find what works best for you. Unless you plan on joining a religious order, there is no need to pick just one. As a lay person, you’ll likely end up taking a bit from several spiritualities to find a spiritual path that is fruitful for you.

As Jim said, we all work toward the same goal: Christ. No need to stess about picking the right path.


Read the works of the saints of the various spiritualities and see which one, if any particular one, the Holy Spirit calls you too. It may be you have your own way


Some people are discerning vocations and trying to figure out what order to look into. Some other people are just making conversation about what spiritualities they prefer. It gives some clues about a person’s interest and personality.

It’s pretty much like saying, “I used to run marathons but now I’m training for a triathlon” and somebody else says,”I do a lot of mountain biking, but I might try a marathon one day” etc.

As for “intra-religious syncretism”, some people probably do some of this and some of that, but if a person is really interested in one or two particular areas, they may want to concentrate on certain spiritual practices. If you’re called to contemplation, you probably won’t be happy out working in the community all day long or vice versa. A mountain biker who wants to get really good at biking spends his time improving his biking. He doesn’t try to do swimming, tennis, and hurdles at the same time. He might swim some if he enjoys it.


I recommend that you begin a study of spiritual theology itself: the truth concerning the spiritual organism given to man in sanctifying grace. That is, how exactly does the life of grace given at Baptism grow and develop toward the perfection that God calls us to. Jesus said, Be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect. That perfection - spiritual maturity - grows and develops (IF it grows and develops) according to a pattern that is designed by God. The Truth of God’s design and pattern of growth and development of the spiritual/interior Life, I would say, is “spiritual theology”. That Truth is what we need to learn and understand. Particular schools of spirituality are a secondary matter, it seems.

Fr. R. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., devoted much study to the primary matter: I recommend him as a teacher to listen to. He has several excellent books on the matter. One in particular is "Christian Perfection and Contemplation: According to St. Thomas Aquinas and St. John of the Cross " - in this he shows the unity of thought and experience of two great Catholic theologians and spiritual masters: St. Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican, and St. John of the Cross, a Carmelite.

A very short, brief introduction to this theology can be found In F. Garrigou-Lagrange’s book (almost a booklet, it is so much shorter than his other works), The Three Ways of the Spiritual Life. It is on-line and can be read and/or downloaded in pdf from

The comprehensive and profound two-volume work, on the same matter The Three Ages of the Interior Life , is also on-line here:


I agree with fide, in his reply: “Truth is what we need to learn and understand. Particular schools of spirituality are a secondary matter.” Jesus is our Way, our Truth and our Life and thus our universal call to holiness is our call to Follow Him.

fide’s references to the books by Fr. Garrigou Lagrange are good ones. I’ve read these and other works by him and found them all to be very helpful in understanding how our life of grace grows and develops.

Another book, “The Ordinary Path to Holiness” is an excellent and perhaps “easier” read, than Fr. Garrigou La Grange, for anyone beginning to search for solid Catholic Spirituality. The link will take you to an article which gives a good summary of the book and includes a link to Amazon if you’d like to purchase a copy. Price is very reasonable for a paperback.

“The Ordinary Path to Holiness” is truly as advertized: “The treasure of Catholic spirituality re-presented for our times”. The foreward was written by the late Fr. Benedict Groeschel. I hope you and others who may be reading this thread will look into this treasure of a book.


Surely there’s an internet quiz you can take - sort of a “you might be a Benedictine if…” :joy:

Seriously, though, you’ve already received good advice above. I would simply add that if you’re serious about finding your alignment to something specific rather than eclectic - or even fine-tuning your own “Intra-Religious Syncretism”®, learn much about yourself first. You might consider a spiritual charisms inventory - and there really are internet tools (“quizzes”) that can help guide you on that journey.


I think what you are trying to say is the word used by the different Catholic religious orders and that is “Charism”. Each religious order has its own “Charism” or gift(s). For example the charism of the Dominican Order is the charism of preaching. The Charism of the Franciscan order is serving the poor and so on and so forth. These are not spiritualities but gifts (charisms) that every religious order has. When you use the term “different spiritualities” it comes off as new agey or more along the lines of people who say “I am spiritual but not religious”. It can get confused in that way… At least that is how it comes across to me.

Read this article for more on what charism means…


Perhaps the OP did intend “Charism”, but they also could have meant “spirituality”. I’m not sure. But their use of “spirituality” in this context is not wrong and I don’t think it’s new-agey either.

A religious order’s spirituality and charism are intertwined, but they are different. They inform each other. Perhaps a more accurate way to phrase it is “school of spirituality”…the Franciscan “school”, Carmelite “School” of spirituality for example. And I would define spirituality as an approach to God or a way of having a relationship with God. The Franciscan school/ approach, Carmelite school/approach, and Benedictine school/approach to God are all quite different. They’re not mutually exclusive either. But they are different, and usually based off the spirituality of the Order’s founder and / or certain key figures within the Order. There are other “schools” of Catholic spirituality outside religious orders as well. Desert Spirituality and eastern/Byzantine spiritualities are just a some.


Different personality types have different ways of praying and building their relationship with God. It makes sense to me that someone would try to figure out their “type” to have a concrete way of building a spirituality. I fully agree with the second part. There are wonderful aspects to every spirituality which people should try and incorporate into their prayer life.


“Different spiritualities” is a very standard term. It’s not mistaken for New Age, especially when you’re speaking to other Catholics.

For example, the written requirement (from the Carmelites) for those who are invested in and practice the Brown Scapular devotion is that you practice some type of “Carmelite spirituality”. That is the word used by the order itself. They don’t say “charism.”

The Jesuits have a whole online course on “Ignatian Spirituality” on their website. They don’t call it “charism.” There are also many books and articles discussing Ignatian Spirituality.

I was just reading another website on “Salesian Spirituality” this morning.

“Charism” is not the correct word in this context. With all due respect, if you think the word “spirituality” sounds New Agey, you probably need to read a few more Catholic sites dealing with different spiritualities so you understand the term better yourself.


With all due respect I may be in the minority but if to me it comes across as new agey then that is my right due to it being my opinion. I do not need to read anything. If you go to the website’s of many orders they use the term charism. Just because it’s a term that to you is not used as often doesn’t make it incorrect.

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