chapter  1
28 Pages

Changing contours of religious and spiritual life

This chapter discusses the changing religious life of Macau Catholics with reference to the multidimensional concept of secularization. By comparing the experiences of different generations of Catholics, it recognizes a diminishing influence of religion in the public sphere, and inside the church and over individual behavior. The generational experiences of Mrs. Chan, Annie and Mabel reveal that Macau Catholicism has been undergoing a steady and continuous process of "secularization", which entails not so much a decline of religious belief than religious authority. With the modernization and secularization of Macau society, Bernard observed that the highly reflective and engaging form of spirituality he used to practice was becoming more widely available to his fellow Catholics. While both the concepts of secularization and secularity highlighted the fact that religion had become a personal option, the latter served to broaden our attention from societal and external conditions such as structural differentiation to the cultural and ontological presuppositions behind contemporary religious belief.