Posted in Authentic Freedom, church, Inspiration, Jesus, Lessons, Mary Magdalene, Mystics, Oneness with God, Raised Catholic, temptation

A Witch! A Witch!

Responding to the Catholic self-appointed inquisition.

Just when I think I am off their radar and free of the wrath of the Catholic self-appointed inquisition, they rear their fearful head. This morning as I was enjoying a glimpse of the new and expansive opportunities that are coming my way, not the least of which is the pending release of my new book – Union – a year of spiritual lessons and practices with Mary Magdalene, this shows up in my email.  Not one….but two emails from the same individual spewing their wrath:

You wicked evil christian. You thought you could deceive me and lead me to believe you really discern spirits when in fact you said it led you to practice Reiki, an occult practice forbidden for Catholics.

The Lord rebuke you. It sickens me you practice Reiki.

Your charism is not from God. The occult practices indicate otherwise. What I don’t understand is why mix catholicism with the occult?

Even if you have the charism, I know you are not in the truth because you are an occult practioner who is doing what is forbidden by Catholic practice. What happened to you…

I’m really saddened to see that you practice the occult because if you really do have the charism of discernment, The Church and people really do need it and not mixed with occult practices…

Normally, I would not give any energy or attention to emails such as these, but today, I find myself particularly annoyed, not because of their words, but because of the larger message behind these words which is:

If you are a woman who happens to be doing the work that Jesus did, you are evil, wicked, doing the work of Satan and condemnable as a witch.

As it relates to being a witch, I wear that mantle proudly for to me being a witch means:

  • Dedicating my life in service to the Divine and in support of the betterment of our world.
  • Emptying myself so as to be a vessel through which the Divine might be known in our world through my own unique gifts.
  • Allowing the Divine to work through my spiritual gifts of discernment, teaching, encouragement, leadership, pastoring, prophecy and healing to transform our world from fear into love.
  • Engaging in ritual practices for the purpose of concretizing my commitment to God which then act as efficacious signs of grace…by which divine life is dispensed to us (ref. Catholic Encyclopedia).
  • Strengthening my commitment to God and to the mission of love through daily meditation, contemplation and prayer.
  • Being of service to others as a source of love in all things.

I see none of what I do as contrary to the Christian message, most especially as this message was modeled by Christ. Jesus taught.  He prophesied.  He counseled. He meditated and prayed. He performed ritual.  He led.  He pastored.  He laid on hands for the purpose of healing, expelling demons (fears) and to empower those he taught to do what he had done.

It wasn’t only men whom Jesus empowered to continue his work. The FIRST ordained to continue Jesus’ work was Mary Magdalene (John 20), and she was a woman!  Sadly, the early response to Mary Magdalene’s role as successor to Jesus was ridicule, condemnation and slander.  She immediately went from being Jesus’ co-equal partner, the one who first saw the risen Christ and the one sent forth to share the good news, to adulterous woman, prostitute, whore….in other words….a witch.  What happened to Mary Magdalene two hundred centuries ago has been the burden inflicted upon all women thereafter who have attempted to do what Jesus did and be whom he called them to be.  The message has been clear:

If you are woman called to do the work of Christ, you are not welcome and we will enforce this ban by calling you a witch, a heretic, a whore, a blasphemer, who does this work in the company of Satan.

While it would be easy for me to get on my feminist bandwagon, I find here that I cannot as these accusations of being in the company of Satan go beyond gender. In fact these are the exact same accusations heaped upon Jesus by the self-appointed inquisition of his own time:

When Jesus had driven out a demon, some of the crowd said: “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven. But he knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons. If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe.

But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

Luke 11: 15-26


Apparently ANYONE who tries to do the work that Jesus did is vulnerable to condemnation. When I pierce through the veil of these accusations I see one thing:

Fear – specifically, the human fear of that which is outside of our control.

Catholic (and most religious) doctrine, wraps life up in a tight little ball. We are told what to believe, what not to believe, what is good and what is evil. Theologians might have the freedom to argue about these beliefs, but the common person sitting in the pew is expected to believe without question. For many, believing without question provides the perceived surety they crave in an otherwise unsure world. The problem is that life CANNOT be wrapped up in a tight little ball for us to control. The truth is there is very little we truly know and even less that we can control. Those who have been called beyond these tightly defined parameters, who are comfortable in the world of the unknown, where life embodies many shades of grey and where freedom is found in ambiguity become a threat to those who cling to the illusion of surety. To the latter, it is easy to think of the former as evil as our presence stirs their fears and the unhealed wounds that cause them to cling to what they think they know. Witches….shit-disturbers, we might be one and the same. J

While my initial response to the emails above was annoyance and my second response was hurt, I can now sit in the compassion of understanding the fears that caused this person to lash out in this way. I am sorry for the unhealed fears that cause them to seek after surety. I am sorry for the fact that my presence has triggered these fears. But even more so I am sorry that they chose not to use the tools that Jesus gave them to heal those fears so that instead of finding separation, they might have found the love that unites us both. In this, there are no witches, there is no inquisition, there are only human beings trying to find peace in an otherwise fearful world.



Posted in Authentic Freedom, Being Human, Education Reform, mental illness, self-actualization

Self-Actualization: Where education, psychology and religion have failed

We stand at an important crossroads in our evolution as a species where everything we formerly looked to as keeping us safe; and supporting our health, development, and wellbeing; has failed.  Education.  Government.  Medicine (here including psychology). Capitalism.  Religion.  All have failed.  As it relates to Authentic Freedom Academy, I will focus on the three related to our mission of providing transformational education and empowerment:  education, religion and psychology.

Education, religion and psychology have failed.  Perhaps not from the perspective of some inside these institutions, but from the perspective of human development, they have failed.  Psychology is treating pathology only, and everything is pathology (anxiety, depression, panic attack for example which are just as often signals of our Soul’s desire to awaken!).  Religion teaches doctrine while ignoring the deepest need of the human heart which is to know ourselves and to know that we are loved.  Education remains primarily within the 19th century paradigm of creating obedient factory workers. While religion, education and psychology all insist their desire is to support human development, none in fact, are doing so.  Instead, they are, more often than not, working to keep people small, contained, frustrated and unhealthy.

Authentic Freedom Academy hopes to change this fact by being a resource through which people of all ages can be supported in their human development, the ultimate goal being self-actualization.

Self-Actualization is the term that Abraham Maslow used to describe the ultimate goal of the human journey – to become the fullest expression of our greatest self while harnessing our individual and unique giftedness, not only for our own fulfillment but for the sake of the betterment of the world.  Other pioneers in the field of psychology have used such terms as individuation, self-fulfillment, whole self, etc. to describe the deepest desire of the human animal to find inner fulfillment and satisfaction.  All agree that this satisfaction comes not from what is outside of us (money, power, wealth, material possessions), but is an inner quality experienced when our Soul comes to its own realization.  The Soul’s realization is called self-actualization.  The inner state of contentment and fulfillment I call authentic freedom.


Self-Actualization/Authentic Freedom is the mission of Authentic Freedom Academy.  Toward this end, we provide you with the tools and support you need to achieve your own self-actualization. We provide these tools (one-on-one mentoring, classes and publishing) because we believe that self-actualization is the answer to what ails our world.  Self-actualized individuals are more peaceful and content, problem-centered instead of ego-centered, live more simply, have a deep sympathy for the human race and a desire to serve their fellow human beings, are naturally democratic, collaborative and cooperative, enjoy an inner state of harmony and seek to create that in their world.  Self-actualized people are content within themselves and are no longer looking for something outside of them to make them happy so they are less likely to take from others and are more likely to give.  Self-actualized individuals know themselves and have come in contact with their own unique gifts and have taken time to cultivate these gifts.  After doing so, they are motivated to share these gifts not only for their own fulfillment but for the sake of the betterment of the world.  While detached and self-contained, self-actualized individuals can’t help but support the betterment of our world – sometimes just by being present.

Authentic Freedom Academy has made it our goal to support people of all ages in their journey of self-actualization, empowering them to experience authentic freedom in their lives.

If you are interested in enjoying the benefits of becoming self-actualized, consider scheduling a one-on-one session with Lauri Lumby (920) 230-1313 or email 

Posted in church, Jesus

So Over the Church Thing!

How do we as Church minister to those for whom Church has become irrelevant, to those who are seeking after and calling for a change in the way we do Church?  Can we be content as Pope Benedict XVI once suggested in an audience who is small yet obedient?  As one who has had the pulse of those who are seeking after change (innovators) and those who have already left (recoverings), I propose that we MUST minister to the needs of this audience because as much as the Institutional Church might be tempted to judge and condemn, it is the innovators and recoverings who hold the keys to the future of Church. 

So Over the Church Thing!

Seeking after, listening to and tending to the needs of the innovators and recoverings is a challenging thing because in truth, most of them are SO OVER the whole Church thing.  To them, the Church has become irrelevant because in their eyes, the Church assumed that salvation was the number one priority of all believers. For innovators and recoverings, salvation is the last thing on their minds. Concerns about a heavenly reward take a back seat when earth itself feels like hell!  When one cries out with their simple need to be loved, or asks for help in finding peace, or seeks assistance in discerning the direction of their lives and are met with silence, sooner or later they stop asking and find other ways to get their needs met.

Heavenly Reward or Heaven on Earth?

The old ways of being Church, with its emphasis on salvation and building the kingdom of God simply doesn’t work for innovators and recoverings. Instead, the Church needs to meet them where they are at – seeking after the fulfillment of some basic human needs:

  • The need to be loved
  • The need to find inner peace
  • The need to find meaning, purpose, connection and fulfillment

In tending to the basic needs of innovators and recoverings, it is helpful to understand where they are currently seeking after the fulfillment of these needs.  The needs that they were not getting fulfilled in Church are now being met in the secular world – in Mindfulness and Zen meditation groups, at the yoga studio or local gym, local coffee shop or music festival, in the voracious reading of spiritual, personal development and self-help books,  and in volunteering their time to the needs of the greater community.  Here they are finding tools for personal development, cultivating inner peace, finding community and serving others. This is what they are looking for and as Church, this is what we are called to offer to them – but again, in a way that differs dramatically from the way in which we have formerly been Church.

When Church is No Longer Relevant

In ministering to the needs of those for whom Church is no longer relevant, first we have to understand that they have been hurt – they left because they did not feel loved and accepted, and because their needs were not being heard, let alone met.  As such, doctrine and prostheletizing need to be set aside.    Then, we meet them where they are at – LITERALLY!  We show up to the yoga studio, hang out at satsangs and new age bookstores, schedule “office hours” at the local coffee shop, occasionally throw back a beer at the local music festival and give our time to Habitat for Humanity, Rotary and The Red Cross. And when we meet them where they are at, we approach them with one thing, and one thing only – unconditional love.  Meeting innovators and recoverings with unconditional love implies the following:

  • Treating them with unconditional positive regard
  • Listening intently to what they have to say (even if it challenges our closely held beliefs or ruffles our feathers)
  • Hold space for any grief that they may need to process from feeling hurt, disillusioned or betrayed by Church
  • Be open to understanding what their real needs might be so that we may tend to their needs
  • Be a vehicle of support through which they can find ways to get these needs met

When we meet innovators and recoverings in this way, we are doing exactly what Jesus asked us to do and while it looks nothing like how we have known Church to be, we are being Church in perhaps the most authentic way.  In fact, I seem to remember a certain carpenter from Nazareth who ministered in exactly the same way.


Posted in church, Discernment, Inspiration, Mary Magdalene, Oneness with God, Raised Catholic

The Magdalene’s Response to the New Pope

Sometimes blog posts seem to come out of nowhere and simply fly out of my pen or from my fingers onto the keyboard in a way that seems as if it is coming from somewhere beyond me.  I care not whether this experience would qualify as “channeling” or simply a function of my creative imagination.  What matters to me is if it speaks a truth that resonates for those who are in need of these words.  So…..these words, “from the Magdalene”  are for my Christian (including Catholic)  brothers and sisters who are called to the mystical/contemplative path in response to our wonderings about the new pope. 


Lauri,  I call you now to bring a message to your Christian brothers and sisters during this time of radical transition….

With the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of Pope Francis, Christians of the world have many questions.  My message is specifically for those who are drawn along the mystical path….and this message is a reminder of the value of DETACHMENT.  In particular, I am inviting you to detach from assigning any meaning, interpretation and/or judgment to this new pope, because, in the end, his reign has no bearing on the path to which mystics and contemplatives have been called.

Christianity was inspired by and has its source and direction in the Oneness modeled and lived out in my Beloved, Jesus.  Yet even before the time of his death, this message was received in multiple ways and disseminated as such.  What was ONE in Christ became separate in man.  In the Christian faith, this separation has been lived out in what might be referred to as the Institutional Church and the Mystical church – two very different ways of experiencing Jesus’ message – one directed toward containment, the other toward expansion.  Where the Institutional Church seeks to define God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit intellectually and express it in definite and static terms through doctrine; the Mystical church seeks to know God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit through direct and personal experience – experience that proves to be dynamic, infinite and ever-changing.  The tension between these seemingly opposite perspectives has existed since the beginning of time and will cease to exist only when all perceived separation has been transcended within and between all of humanity.  While this task may be possible for some, in this lifetime, it is not likely to happen for all.  As such, we are required to live within that tension.

The newly elected Pope Francis,  may or may not succeed in healing the wounds brought about by the Institution’s attachment to fear, power and control, though I am quite certain that particular hot-button doctrinal changes will not be part of his agenda.  This is not, however, to dissuade you from continuing to exercise sound discernment in your own personal beliefs and choices.  The ultimate authority, after all, exists beyond any political or religious distinction and instead, resides within your own heart.   It is within the quiet and peaceful places in your heart where God will guide you and it is to this inner authority that mystics give their allegiance.

So, in this time of change, I invite you to embrace detachment and to become the observer.  Watch and wait and remember that for the Mystical church, what this pope may or may not do in his reign has no bearing on your call to seek Oneness with Christ, within yourself and with all of creation; or on your ability to be and live as LOVE in the world.

Yours in Love, Light and Oneness,

Mary, called Magdalene.

Posted in Authentic Freedom, church, Spiritual Formation

A Far Reaching Vision

Are you looking for meaning, purpose or connectedness in your life?  Are you desiring to know yourself, to discover your unique gifts and your contribution in the world?  Do you seek to know your Source, your Origin, where you came from, who made you, how you got here and why?  This blogs for you!

Churches Are Dying

It is unanimous.  Churches….even the mega-non-denominational-evangelical churches are now recognizing it.  (see this article from InternetMonk) Churches are dying.  Of course everyone has their theories as to why this is true.  And this is mine:  Because most churches are not meeting the deepest longing of the human heart which is to:

  • Know ourselves
  • Know God
  • Know our gifts and how we are called to share them in the world.

In other words…..we want meaning and purpose in our lives.  We want connection.  And most importantly…..we want to know LOVE.  And… my personal experience, we do not get any of this through things that come from outside of us such as doctrine, dogma, the Catechism, Canon law, Papal infallibility statements, etc.  The only place we can find ourselves, God and our gifts is INSIDE of us.  While we might recognize the Presence and Action of God in the external circumstances of our lives……and while we might give honor to the God that we know through worship and ritual, we don’t really know God until we experience God in our hearts.  And that only comes from going within.

The Inner Journey

This process of going within, this process that leads us to the answers to the questions of the heart is called Spiritual Formation.  Unlike Religious Formation which teaches doctrine, dogma, laws, morals, rules, history, attempts to define God and to define God’s mind, etc; Spiritual Formation goes straight to our hearts.  Spiritual Formation provides us with the tools through which we are able to come to know ourselves, come to have our own personal experience of God, helps us to identify our gifts and to find healing from the fears and unhealed wounds that would otherwise prevent us from nurturing and sharing our gifts in the world.  Spiritual Formation is healing, empowering, motivating, supportive, honoring, liberating and expansive.  Unlike Religious Formation which is unique to each belief system,  Spiritual Formation is universal.  It doesn’t matter what faith you believe in….or if you even have a faith, every single human being on this planet experiences at some time in their lives, the longing to find meaning, purpose and connectedness.  Spiritual Formation provides the tools for that discovery.

Help for Those Still Searching

The Authentic Freedom process for Spiritual Formation provides a tool that can be accessible to ANYONE and brings people together instead of causing more separation.  As churches are dying and people are wandering around in search of that which will fulfill the longing of their hearts…..Authentic Freedom provides an answer…..or at least a way to get there because ultimately, the answer is within us….just waiting to be made known.  Authentic Freedom provides the tools that help us open to those answers.

The Vision

The vision is this:  Trained Authentic Freedom Facilitators in places all around the world, sharing, facilitating, empowering people with these tools.  I currently have eleven men and women who are standing at the gate ready to start their facilitator’s training.  Once their training is complete and upon our mutual agreement, these facilitators will be empowered to go out into their own communities and share this curriculum with others.  The best thing about all of this is that is fulfills my NUMBER ONE goal as a spiritual teacher and the mantra I have repeated over and over and over in my almost twenty years in ministry:

“I am not here to make more students.  I am here make teachers.”

My Invitation to You

Here is my invitation to you.  If any of the above resonates with you. If you read this and are getting a little flutter in your heart.  If your ears perk up when you contemplate this blog,  consider becoming an Authentic Freedom Facilitator.  For more information on the process and how you might become involved, click HERE.    And……if as you read this your mind is filled with doubts: I don’t know enough.  I don’t have enough background or knowledge in scripture or energy medicine.  I don’t know how to teach.  I am not worthy.  I couldn’t possibly do this.  THEN CALL ME……because chances are if you are having these doubts… really ARE BEING CALLED to consider this opportunity.  🙂

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Empowerment, Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Practices

Empowering Spiritual Teachers

There is a growing hunger in Western culture to find meaning, purpose and connectedness in our lives free from the traditional route that has been rooted in dogma and doctrine.   Authentic Freedom Ministries is leading the charge by empowering teachers to assist us along this path.

Calling All Magdalenes!

Authentic Freedom Teacher Training is officially in full swing.  Women and men are coming out of the woodwork who have either read Authentic Freedom and been inspired by the tools presented or taken the classes and experienced the life-changing effect of employing its principles.  All this is in keeping with the vision of Authentic Freedom Ministries:

To be a global presence in spiritual formation, grounded in contemplative prayer and empowered service.

I affectionately refer to these men and women as “The Magdalenes” because I consider Mary Magdalene to be the Apostle who most closely reflected the contemplative lifestyle and compassion of Jesus and who most clearly understood the tools through which we can transcend the fears of the human condition and release that which separates us from God, from ourselves and from one another.  When we embrace these principles, we understand that we are all One and are freed of the fears that come out of this false perception of separation and block our way to peace, love and joy.

The Teachers’ Role

The role of the Authentic Freedom teacher is to be a source of support for those looking for meaning, purpose and connectedness in their lives by facilitating the Authentic Freedom curriculum.  Authentic Freedom transcends centuries of dogma to reveal the powerful and life-changing message at the heart of Jesus’ teachings and the universal truths at the core of every religion. The best part about this curriculum and why people love it so much is that they don’t have to throw Jesus out with the bathwater.  This is an important piece for those raised Catholic or any other Christian denomination who appreciate the compassion and justice of Jesus’ message but who struggle with how it is sometimes presented by institutions as punitive, judgmental or divisive.  Instead, Authentic Freedom reveals a dynamic and unifying path of spiritual transformation and empowerment that speaks to people of all beliefs thereby allowing us to embrace the truth of love that Jesus taught while honoring the truth of love as taught through other spiritual traditions – again, setting aside separation and embracing oneness.

The Bonus

It is easy to see the application of Authentic Freedom in spirituality and religion, and it is important to recognize that it doesn’t stop there.  Those who are seeking empowerment as Authentic Freedom Facilitators recognize the far-reaching benefits of these tools in the following fields:

  • Spirituality
  • Religion
  • Psychology
  • Counseling
  • Recovery
  • Yoga
  • Meditation and Mindfulness
  • Holistic wellness
  • Ecumenism

It has been additionally noted that the audience for Authentic Freedom might be in traditional church environments but will more likely be found elsewhere such as:

  • Retreat Centers
  • Spirituality Centers
  • Yoga Studios
  • Progressive Churches
  • Recovery Groups
  • Wellness Centers
  • Support Groups
  • Counseling Centers
  • House Churches
  • Meditation Groups

Here I am, Send Me!

If you are interested in learning more about training as an Authentic Freedom Facilitator, click HERE, or call/email Lauri Lumby at (920) 230-1313

Posted in Uncategorized

Authentic Freedom Appeal

If in this blog you have found inspiration, support, guidance, learning, comfort, healing, validation, affirmation or just a good chuckle, please consider making a DONATION to Authentic Freedom Ministries.  Your $5, $10, $25 or $50 donation helps us to continue to offer this blog FREE OF CHARGE for those who are looking for support in their spiritual journey.   Or better yet, SUBSCRIBE to the Agape’ Meditation newletter. By subscribing, not only will you be supporting the Your Spiritual Truth blog and keeping it free…..but you will receive a weekly meditation newletter which will provide you with everything you need to start or deepen your spiritual practice, including scripture readings, historical and cultural background on the scripture, inspirational thoughts, meditation exercises and practices, instruction in meditation as well as tools for your own spiritual formation.

Authentic Freedom Ministries

Authentic Freedom Ministries offers programs, classes, services and products that speak to those raised in a Christian tradition who are looking for support in their spiritual journey free from the constraints of doctrine.  While rooted in the rich tradition of Christian Contemplation and breathing fresh air into the Jesus story, Authentic Freedom Ministries is open to people of all spiritual or religious beliefs.  Through our blog, weekly meditation newsletter, books, classes, training programs, retreats; Spiritual Direction/Mentoring and Hands-on Healing services, we provide the tools through which men and women are empowered to Remember the Love that They Are in their intimate connection in Oneness with God, within themselves, with each other and with all of creation.  All of our classes and programs are offered on a sliding-fee scale and no one is turned away due to an inability to pay.

Your generous donation helps us to continue this ministry and our commitment to making it accessible to everyone. 

Thank you,

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

Oshkosh, WI, USA

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Spiritual Formation

Why Does Spiritual Formation Matter?

Why Spiritual Formation is not the same as Religious Formation and why this distinction matters!

Spiritual Formation vs. Religious Formation

One of the most important lessons I learned during 10 years of ministering within the Catholic Church is the distinction between Spiritual Formation and Faith Formation.  My mentor and friend, Sr. Judy Miller was the first one to articulate what I had already observed in my own ministry formation and in the work I performed as a minister in the Church:

“Religious formation is coming to know about God.  Spiritual formation is coming to know God.” 

In other words, Religious formation is learning somebody else’s ideas about God.  Spiritual Formation is coming to know God within your own heart.  Religious formation is limited by the specific tenents of denomination.  Spiritual Formation is universal and limitless.  The United States Catholic Bishops have also come to this understanding.   In the Bishop’s document on Stewardship, they say (I’m paraphrasing here) that discipleship only comes about through mature disciples and that mature disciples are formed through sound spiritual formation which seeks to answer three questions:

Who am I?

Whose am I?  (what is my relationship with the God of my understanding)

What are my gifts and how am I being called to use them?

The Bishops seem to know this, but in my experience, Spiritual Formation is rarely accomplished.  Most people in the Catholic Church (and most churches for that matter) receive a ton of religious formation – doctrine, beliefs, practices, rules, regulations, moral guidelines, etc. etc. etc.  but rarely are they given the tools through which they can come to know God personally and intimately.  Also rarely given are tools for sound discernment, instructions on how to develop a personal and intimate relationship with God and how to determine our gifts and how we are called to use them in the world.

The Seventy Percent

For eight years while ministering at the Newman Center Catholic Campus Ministry in Oshkosh, I facilitated the RCIA process.  The RCIA is a formal program through which adults come into the Catholic faith.  In most cases, the RCIA is a nine month process of inquiry, catechesis (learning) and mystagogia (asking how we are to live our faith out in the world).  The culmination of the RCIA is in the reception of the sacraments – baptism, confirmation and eucharist.  I recently learned an interesting statistic regarding the RCIA.  Nationally, only 30% of RCIA participants are still active in the Church 1 year after the reception of the sacrament.  That is an abysmal figure and I was shocked to hear that figure because at the Newman Center, our retention rate was at least 70%.  What was the difference?  I did not even have to ask that question, however, because I already knew the answer:  SPIRITUAL FORMATION  In the eight years that I facilitated the RCIA, Spiritual Formation was the foundation (cultivating the participant’s personal relationship with God through contemplative prayer practices ), doctrine a subtext.  My experience with the RCIA proved to me that Spiritual Formation is really what people are looking for AND IT WORKS!  The people that went through our RCIA program developed a deep and passionate love of God, came to know Jesus as a compassionate and loving teacher and sought to share that love through participation in the community and in service to the world.

Spiritual Formation is Universal

While that model worked for me within the context of church ministry, I have also found that my theories work in the secular world as well – perhaps even more so.  As people grow more and more disenchanted with organized religion, or at the very least are searching for more, the universal questions of Who am I?  Whose am I? What are my gifts? prove to be even more pressing.  EVERYONE longs to know themselves, to understand the mystery of our origin, and seeks to have a fulfilling life through their own unique gifts.  Spiritual Formation is the vehicle through which these questions are answered.

The Authentic Freedom Curriculum

The way that I have responded to these questions, the deepest longing of the human heart is to develop a curriculum for Adult Spiritual Formation.  The Authentic Freedom Curriculum consists of three (and sometimes four or five) 9-12 week classes of sound spiritual formation.  Using scripture, contemplative prayer practices, learning and discussion within the format of group-spiritual direction, participants are empowered to find the answer to those questions:  Who am I?  Whose am I?  etc.  In the eight years that I have shared this curriculum with a mostly secular audience in the Oshkosh area, I have seen astonishing results.  People are transformed, enthused, empowered and even more importantly, they come to know the God within their own heart and go on to share this God with others (in a non-dogmatic way).  (Read my testimonial’s page for participants’ comments)  I am humbled and grateful for all those who have participated in these classes and who continue to share love and joy in the world because of what they discovered about themselves in these courses.

Authentic Freedom Going Global

And now I find that it is time to bring the Authentic Freedom curriculum to a global market.  Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, I will be offering these courses on-line via Skype conferencing.  (an intimidating task for a techno-illiterate person such as myself!)   Watch this site for details, dates, times, etc.   and if you think you might be interested, email me at

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

Posted in Agape Project, church, Mary Magdalene, Raised Catholic

Resurrecting the church of the Magdalene Part VII

Today’s blog explores the gifts of both the Institutional/orthodox Church and the mystical, contemplative, interior church that I refer to as “the church of the Magdalene.” 

Continuing Yesterday’s Discussion

Apparently yesterday’s blog stirred the ire of some readers.  I will say it again, I am sorry if any readers took yesterday’s blog personally or thought I was shaking the finger of judgment at them.  As a Perfectionist/Reformer (on the Enneagram), I am predisposed to see the world through the lens of “How can this be better?” and in my professional life, the common target of this question is the Institution of the Roman Catholic Church.  Not because I hate it, mind you, but because I love it!  I want my church to be a place where all people feel welcome, accepted, loved and honored for who they are.  I am saddened when the very human Institution falls short of this hope.

Room for Orthodoxy

The Catholic Church as an Institution has stood strong and proud for 2000 some years and serves a very important role in the spiritual and religious experiences and beliefs of its members.  The Church as an Institution creates form, structure, predictability, unity of belief and practice.  You can go anywhere in the world, attend a Catholic mass and be able to participate.  There is great gift in this form and structure as it can create a sense of security and safety in an often unpredictable world.  We know where the Church stands on matters of morality, politics, and matters of social justice.  We also know the chain of command and our role within that chain.  The Institution of the Church creates order and for many people, this is important and necessary.  The Institution also provides sound instruction in what members are expected to believe and how they are expected to act.  Again, very important resources for many people.  The Church also provides a sense of belonging.  For those who qualify as “Catholic in good standing,” you know that you are accepted, you belong, you have a home and a community that you can turn to for comfort, support, guidance.  These are all good things that feed and nurture many.

The Mystical Church

Here is where it gets messy…..especially for some.  The Mystical/Contemplative church is pretty much the complete opposite from what is listed above.  Instead of creating order, it stirs up chaos.  Instead of offering rules, doctrine, strict guidelines, it invites us into our own personal discernement were we are called to discover God’s truth for us on our own (or with the help of a Spiritual Director).  The black and white rules of orthodoxy are replaced with the grey matter of relativity….the only absolute truth being God….or whatever we want to call that.  Instead of offering strict rubrics for worship and ritual, the Mystical church invites us to create our own.  Rote repetitive prayer is expanded to include imagination, dreams, writing, inviting us into a deeply personal and intimate dialogue with God.  In the Mystical church, instead of following the chain of command,  we are invited to take it “straight to the top”, by-passing the human element and going directly to God.  The final authority in the Mystical church is God, rather than the pope, cardinals and bishops.  The Mystical church belongs to all of humanity and there is no separation by religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.  All paths lead to God and all paths are honored as sacred.  In the Mystical church, decisions are made through prayer, careful discernment, collaboration and concensus.  Leadership looks more like a circle than a straight line.  Can you see how this might not be for some…..even many?

The Church in a Perfect World (as defined by Lauri Lumby)

In a perfect world (at least according to me) there would be room for both expressions of the Christian experience.  The Orthodox and Mystical churches would co-exist side by side in peaceful harmony and collaboration.  Leaders and members would be formed and educated through both sound spiritual formation (Who am I?  Whose am I?  What are my gifts and how am I being called to use them?) as well as religious formation (rites and rituals, dogma and doctrine, theology, scriptural exegesis, church history, the study of church documents, canon law, etc.). Spiritual formation would inform religious formation and visa versa.  Men, women, lay and ordained would all be included in this formation and leadership would be determined by the individuals’ specific charisms, not their gender.  Ordination might be more broad…..perhaps all would be ordained to their specific call in the world and in the Church.  Contemplation would be honored along side traditional forms of prayer.   Religious dogma would be tested against discernment and the call to compassion.  Primacy of Conscience would be valued in areas of morality with the final authority resting with God.  Worship would include some wiggle room….room for interpretation of worship to expand beyond the strict rubrics of the Roman liturgy.  I know, crazy, right?

Not in my lifetime

I realize that this vision of “the perfect Church”  will most likely NOT be made manifest in my lifetime…if ever.  And I have stopped beating my head against the wall of the Institution hoping they will hear the call to be open to the Mystical expression.  And perhaps I am just a voice calling out in the wilderness….but I know there are people who resonate more clearly with the Mystical expression and hunger for its nourishment.  So, here I am, offering it to those who would have it.    In the spirit of this offering, I just wanted to remind you of the March 15th launch of the Agape’ Project – a subscription based newsletter that will give those who want it, tools for sound spiritual formation through scripture, meditation and contemplation exercises and educational materials that help us to grow in our understanding of what the scripture writers might have been trying to say.  The newsletter is the culmination of my own 20 years of devoted prayer and contemplation, study and practice and I am humbled and honored to offer these tools in the hopes of helping others know the depth of love that arises out of the use of these kinds of tools.  Going back to the mission of Authentic Freedom Ministries, to help you:  Remember the Love That You Are!

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries