This is, I hope, to be the first of several beneficial posts on spiritual disciplines over the course of the summer. This past semester I had to write my philosophy of youth ministry that included the four basic points that I wanted my youth ministry to be fostered around. One of these four points was the teaching of spiritual disciplines because I find that the understanding of spiritual disciplines helps one develop into a whole person.
Before I start on our discipline of the day, I will answer two questions promptly. The first of which asked to explain what “spiritual discipline” even meant. The best I have collected is that spiritual disciplines are practices that are used to help an individual grow their spiritual life. The second question one may ask is, what do I mean by “whole person”? By whole person I mean a person that is attempting to experience every facet of humanity that God has given us. It does not mean that a whole person will become perfectly rounded, just that he or she is trying to become round. Those who tend more towards solitude will work harder at fellowship and, although they will not equal the two out in life, will become more round by being able to do somewhat of both. So the goal of this series is to talk about some of these ways that we can come closer to being whole persons and to give a deeper look into what that actually means.
On this day, in the year 1099, the armies of the First Crusade (1096-1099) reached the walls of the city of Jerusalem. What began as one Byzantine Emperor’s cry for help as his dominion was threatened by the Selijuk Turks sparked military conflict between Western European states united under the banner of the Holy Catholic Church and Muslims in the Levant that would not see an end until the close of the 17th century. As a response to Byzantine Emperor Alexius I’s plea for military support in 1095, Pope Urban II issued an edict at the Council of Clemont the next year that called for Christians everywhere to unite in a war against the Turks. Additionally, as if his papal authority were not enough to draw legions of soldiers to the cause, the Pope also promised that the immediate remission of sins would be granted to any who lost their life in this holy endeavor.
On August 15, 1096, the motivated band of Church-sanctioned soldiers now called the crusader armies set off from France and Italy. With a pledge to restore lost cities and lands to the empire, the armies quickly made their way eastward by land through the capital city of Constantinople and on south through Anatolia. After capturing a number of weaker territories along the way, the crusaders saw their first major victory when, on June 3, 1098, they sacked the city of Antioch. As for standard military philosophy when an enemy force refused to surrender a besieged city, the baron-led armies of knights left no mercy for Antioch, pillaging and destroying the city while massacring as many of its inhabitants as possible along the way. Strengthened by this victory, the armies then marched on toward the holy city of Jerusalem.