‘Being religious’ is the tendency of men to worship God, whilst ‘being spiritual’ translates to the human activity lead by our spirit. But what is the spirit? The word itself comes from the latin verb ‘spirare’, which means to blow. Thus it is something that is light, invisible but yet able to move things.
In contrast to animals, men are able to produce concepts and universal and abstract judgements that do not immidiately fall under the sesorial knowledge. Therefore, men have skills that go beyond the material- biological aspects and are, as such, part of the spiritual sphere. These skills are our intellect and willpower. At the centre of our intellect stands the truth, whithout which the intellect could not work. Its tipical functions are: grasp the intuition, abstracting an idea, build reasoning and formulate a judgement. All of this with the goal of finding and gaining the truth. Our willpower on the other hand, has at its centre the good, especially the good that we percieve thorugh our intelligence. Its roles are: to desire, to love and to rejoice. Its goal is to find something good that is fulfilling and satisfying.
The movement of our itelligence is directed inwards, as it aims at interiorizing ideas, judgements, arguments. To understand, from the latin ‘càpere’, means to take. The movement of our willpower is directed outwards, towards what is good or towards the person we love or desire. To desire, ‘de-siderarem’, means in latin observe the stars. It is as if our aspiration to everything that is good in our life comes directly from the sky! Love is a process that makes us step out of our compfort zone. What drives our willpower is estatic, from the greek ‘ekstasis’, which means to be more open towards others.
As we previously mentioned, perfection, as perceived by intelligence, is to know the turth. But what is the truth? St. Thomas of Aquino stated that the truth is the adjustment the intelligence makes to the ‘res’, so to the reality of all things. So truth is in fact adherence to reality, to facts. Precisely, an argument that goes against a fact, is never valid…
The good on which our willpower is based on, is the one known to our intelligence. It is our intelligence that commands the fulfillment of that what is good, as it sees it as the truth. Key here is prudence, which is a cardinal virtue and that helps our intelligence find the most suitable means to achieve its goal. Willpower is like a young stallion that has yet to be tamed, and that is exactly what our intellect does. Only then we can turn our back to what is evil and turn ourselves towards what is good. If we let our willpower take the upper hand on the intellect, we will start turning our back to what is good and true and start desiring what is evil and untrue instead.