Religion without praxis is hypocrisy. In Greek this word means what is done by the free. It is putting theory and good intentions into reality. Spiritually it means living on the level of experience. In praxis we embark on a process rather than just shooting for a goal. We are therefore also accepting and working with our imperfections – because, however good our praxis may be, we are not aiming at our own perfection. This would be to fall right into the trap of the ego.
This is practical but also quite subtle because it involves a purification of our motivation. As we walk the talk spiritually, the egocentric force of our motives reduces. We slowly find ourselves doing good simply because we are getting better, for the good of the good rather than our own satisfaction. Virtue is its own reward. We love God for God’s sake not for what we can squeeze out of a special relationship with him. If this sounds abstract apply it to your changing motivation for meditating, over a period of time, and it becomes clearer what it means.
Christian spirituality identifies three forms of praxis which are of special relevance for those who want to make something of Lent: fasting, almsgiving and prayer.
Some people fast or abstain from meat on Fridays in Lent – fasting generally means having one main meal and not snacking. But to fast can apply to more than food. We can cut down on other things we consume or what we take in from the media, or habits that easily become compulsive like watching TV, iPodding, texting, surfing the web, flicking through magazines or shopping for more than we need.
In meditation we get to the root-cause of all imbalance and extremism by the essential spiritual praxis of becoming other-centred. That is why it makes us feel better, because it allows us to experience what goodness really means.
Laurence Freeman OSB