Spiritualité et spiritualités : étymologie et histoire (Lucy Tinsley)

Spiritualité définitions

Spiritualité et spiritualités

L’étude la plus complète sur l’histoire et la sémantique des mots « spiritualité » et « spirituel » dans la langue française jusque dans les années cinquante a été menée par Sœur Lucy Tinsley :

Lucy Tinsley ; The French Expressions for Spirituality and Devotion, A Semantic Study; The catholic University of America Press, Washington 1953

SPIRITUALITAS and ASCETAE … are striking examples of words not found in the Vulgate, but which did develop in the early Christian centuries and then practically disappear even in Latin, having in consequence no place in early Old French. (p. 10)

SPIRITUALITAS (formed on the adjective SPIRITUALIS) was the product of Ecclesiastical Latin, and while always very rare, probably never became entirely obsolete. (p. 11)

St. Paul (p. 18)

CARO                                    SPIRITUS

Old man                                New man ;

unregenerated                     regenerated by Baptism and Holy Spirit

The Romans, no doubt following the Greeks with their corresponding word pneuma, and through the analogy of ideas of subtlety and incorporeality, derived the meanings : souffle divin, esprit divin, inspiration, whence esprit, âme. The Church then used SPIRITUS in a special manner for the Holy Spirit : SPIRITUS SANCTUS, or simply SPIRITUS. From this were derived first SPIRITUALIS and then SPIRITUALITAS. … (p. 68)

In the St. Thomas Lexicon, SPIRITUALIS is defined as a synonym for immaterialis; incorporalis and incorporeus; the opposite of animalis, carnalis, materialis, corporeus, naturalis, civilis, saecularis and mundanus. Although the “thing” defined is very positive, it is an absolute concept and so theses negatives are all helpful in building the notion of SPIRITUALIS. (p. 70)

The three – DÉVOTION, PIÉTÉ, SPIRITUALITÉ – tend to converge, expressing attitude or relationship to God. But many of the connotations of SPIRITUALITÉ, especially those showing it as the opposite of that which is material, corporeal, carnal, etc., may be considered apart from any attitude or affective relationship of the soul towards God. (p. 71)

In the meantime the secularism characteristic of this period has rapidly forwarded the tendency to concentrate the application of the term esprit upon intellectual acumen alone. This had begun with a humanistic interest in the intellectual and reasoning aspects of spirit, esprit, and, through the passion for every form of “raffinement”, Italian at first, but developing with a peculiar verve and vigor in the milieu of French Classicism and Enlightenment. The finished homme d’esprit or homme spirituel is typified for us by Voltaire … (p. 153)

SPIRITUALITÉ … has, for the first time (XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries, AK), become firmly established in the heart of our area as the substantive form of SPIRITUEL, which still remains constant – not appreciably affected by the new secular meaning – in its religious connotations in the sense of St. Paul. The distinction is definitely formulated that SPIRITUALITÉ as the general term covers ASCÈSE as its active and ordinary phase, and MYSTIQUE as the passive, infused, and extraordinary phase. (p. 243)

The outstanding present-day fact about SPIRITUALITÉ as a word is that it is now used almost entirely as a synonym for either “VIE SPIRITUELLE” or “SCIENCE SPIRITUELLE” (apart from the basic designation of spiritual being or spiritual qualities). Both SPIRITUALITÉ and VIE SPIRITUELLE – or equivalent expressions – are universally accepted as general terms covering ASCÈSE and MYSTIQUE as subdivisions. …

It is only within the last few years – with visible increase by the decade – that works appeared in which the term SPIRITUALITÉ is not far to seek. In the most abstract and general sense, as indicating the field, or a particular system or type of spirituality, it is now quite common, especially in titles. (p. 271)

« Spiritualité et spiritualités 5 : rite, art, artisanat et articulation

Spiritualité et spiritualités  7 : comment définir l’indéfinissable ? »

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