Letter

October 2017

SPIRITUAL NEEDS

Dear Friends,

A recent survey in the UK has found that 53% of all adults has no religious affiliation. In the early 1980’s, when I felt called to be a priest, it was only 31%. What do these figures show – that I’m a dying breed, or that today people are more willing to be honest?

Being “not religious” is not the same as being an atheist. People may no longer feel the need for organized religions, but many still see themselves as spiritual in some way.

During my time as an RAF padre, I was involved in leading discussion groups exploring beliefs and values. The purpose of the sessions was not to teach religion but ethics, and to explore what it means to be human in a profession that goes into difficult and dangerous places for a greater good.

At the start of the meeting I would get military personnel to think about the needs of being human, that there are physical needs, such as clothing and shelter, and more complicated emotional needs, such as family and friends. Further up the pyramid of needs human beings need a sense of value (self-esteem and self-respect), and at the top there is the need to have a goal and purpose in life (career and profession).

The top need can be seen as being spiritual in that is based around human identity and motivation. Exploring this deeply profound and complex need can lead human beings to question their existence beyond the physical to a spiritual level.

The spiritual need is the ultimate need of human beings. To ponder things spiritually is to consider spiritual values, such as goodness, justice, truth, beauty and love, and these values go to the heart of religious belief.

How are your spiritual needs being met?

Yours spiritually in Christ,

Father Richard