- Faith and Worship
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A Treasury of Arkansas Writers Discussing the Catholic Faith
Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: May 14, 2022
By Paula Standridge
St. John the Baptist Church, Hot Springs
Our temperament and personality affect many aspects of our lives. For example: how we relate to the world around us and our relationships with other people, and also how we work, play and enjoy our free time.
Some of us love to talk and socialize with other people and get our energy this way. Others prefer solitary time to be fueled from within or to process information. These descriptions are some of the general traits of being an extrovert or an introvert. There are other facets to a personality or temperament, though — like whether we are more of a thinker or feeler, sensitive or intuitive, judging or perceiving.
Besides work and play, these general descriptions can also determine how we prefer to pray and worship. Have you felt more energized or fulfillled during a group worship service, or would you rather pray the rosary alone? Do you prefer to raise your hands in charismatic praise and worship, or would you rather study the Bible and meditate on the Scriptures?
Exploring our temperaments and personalities on a deeper level can help us understand ourselves better, improve our relationships by being more aware of the differences between us and help us in our spiritual growth by finding a prayer method that best feeds our souls.
Or have you not really discovered a fulfilling prayer life at all? Throughout history, temperament has affected Christian spirituality. This is why we have Benedictine, Carmelite, Ignatian and many other forms of spirituality and prayer. Not everyone is attracted to or can relate to the same method of becoming closer to God. In a book titled: “Prayer and Temperament” by Chester P. Michael and Marie C. Norrisey, the different personality types are matched with suggestions for different ways of praying and becoming closer to God.
The personality types are based on the Myers-Briggs personality test, which is explained further in the book or can be taken online. There is a different type of prayer and spirituality that is matched to each of the four basic temperaments and 16 types of personality. The four particular spiritualities mentioned in the book are Ignatian (St. Ignatius of Loyola), Thomistic (St. Thomas Aquinas), Franciscan (St. Francis of Assisi) and Augustinian (St. Augustine).
The Ignatian spiritually is a carefully organized regimen of striving toward a relationship with God. Franciscan is the opposite, which depends on spontaneity and openness to the spirit. Augustinian spirituality is based on self-development and spiritual growth, while Thomistic temperaments search for truth and competency. Introverts will prefer a different form of prayer than extroverts.
Feelers pray in a different way than thinkers. Judging people want structure in their prayer while perceiving people wish for flexibility. Of course, these are based on generalities; there are many more gifts and charisms that different religious orders and saints have enriched our faith throughout the ages. The apostles and Gospel writers had differing temperaments and gave us four different viewpoints of the character, life events and teachings of Jesus.
You can see the different temperaments of priests in how they preach or say Mass. Exploring our temperaments and personalities on a deeper level can help us understand ourselves better, improve our relationships by being more aware of the differences between us and help us in our spiritual growth by finding a prayer method that best feeds our souls.