“I want, let us say, to solve a problem (I mean, I want to start at once and if possible go on until I find the solution). By this will act, the I that wills to solve it sets itself in motion spiritually in a definite direction. In this act, it must keep hold [gefasst halten] of itself, of the goal it aims at, and of the movement leading to the goal.” ~ Edith Stein, Potency and Act
Earlier in Potency and Act, Edith Stein defines “spirituality” with a beautiful analogy, that of seeing a mountain as it first appears on the horizon. We observe, “There is something over the there,” and we ask, “What is it?” The movement toward the mountain in search of the answer is spiritual movement. The mountain we seek to know is a “spiritual object.” The closer we get to it, the more we understand it, and when we leave, it remains with us always as a memory and lived experience. The totality of this intentional act is what we would call “spirituality.”
Later, in the quote above, she reinforces her definition and, specifically, defines spiritual movement as “goal-oriented,” just as implied in her earlier analogy.
This satisfying definition is suitable to explain why I consider the my work on royalty to be an act of spirituality even before being political, cultural, or sociological. My devotion to Monarchy began over a decade ago with a “There is something over there, what is it?” moment inspired by the life of Joan of Arc. The pursuit of the answer has been foremost, by Stein’s definition, a spiritual one. The spiritual object on the horizon is the living form, the genus, the point of origin, for the royal heart.
My resulting judgements along the way of what is “good” and what is “bad” reflect the degree to which the action, ideology, or belief in question moves me toward my “goal,” which movement I require in order to fulfill my own potential and to become who I am. The goal-oriented movement (spirituality) toward “There is something over there, what is it?” (the spiritual object) requires judgements, or judging, of what is “right” and what is “wrong,” without which I will never reach my goal. To not judge the appropriateness, the goodness or badness, of actions, ideologies, and beliefs as they relate to my quest is to abandon the goal, the object, the search for “What is it?” which means to abandon spirituality and the becoming of who I am.
Spirituality is never, by definition, purely subjective. Nor is it merely a feeling or sense of well-being. There is always an object toward which we journey, our goal, that requires objective judgments, or we will never reach our “mountain.”