Popular Spirituality as Cultural Energy by Albert E. Alejo, SJ

This paper was delivered during the Spirituality Forum III on August 5,2003 at University of Sto. Tomas CME Auditorium, Manila, Philippines. This article was previously published in Lecture Series 3 on Spirituality, 2004.


Spirituality has always been difficult to define. At the heart of the notion of spirituality, however, is the people’s search for the sacred, for a transcendent dimension to life, for something that gives people meaning in their lives, something that ennobles them to think of and be concerned about a higher cause, something that offers them inner connection and deeper purpose in life, something that helps them celebrate life and existence.

From the data of my experience—I would not claim empirical precision here—I discern at least four spiritual dimensions of our cultural religious practices. I call them spirituality of the body, spirituality of the many, spirituality of celebration and spirituality of negotiation. There is no claim here of exhaustive listing. Let me not waste time being apologetic for my

Full text link provided by Leny Strobel

Leny writes:

This essay by Paring Bert Alejo is refreshing in the way it articulates and clarifies, for me, the language of popular spirituality among the Filipinos especially of the masa/common folks. I find it interesting that the official church (Catholic) often deems this language as mere resistance against the church’s dominant practices when in fact, as Fr. Alejo says, it is cultural energy that challenges our vocabularies of power.

Full text on Leny’s blog, Kathang Pinay 2.