Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Countdown to Synod 2013

is one month away!

If you haven't registered yet, now is the time to do so!

To register online,
click here.
(To have an informational brochure/registration form
mailed to you, call 612-379-1043.)

The Progressive Catholic Voice is committed to "Co-creating the Living Church" and so continues today its "Countdown to Synod 2013" series. (For the first installment in this series, which contains basic information, click here. For the second, which focuses on Synod keynote speaker Sister Gail Worcelo, click here.)

Getting to know Synod 2013's focus and theme . . .

Evolutionary Spirituality

Because Synod 2013 focuses on and explores "evolutionary spirituality" and its relationship to the work of church reform, this installment of our countdown shares the informative and inspiring words of eight thinkers and writers at the forefront of this important spirituality, one that integrates the gospel message, Catholic practice, and the ‘new creation story’ emerging from contemporary science.

We hope you'll find the following quotes both helpful and inspiring, and that you'll register today to join hundreds of other Catholics on Saturday, September 28 at the MOA Ramada as together we continue to "Co-Create the Living Church"!

Somewhere deep down we are all filled with a mystical longing, with a longing for ultimate meaningfulness, and therefore we need to see all of our world in that context. To attain this in today's climate, we need a new theology of the cosmos—one that is grounded in the best science of our day. It will be a theology in which God is very present precisely in all the dynamism and patterns of the created order. A theology of evolution sees God as deeply involved in the evolutionary process of the world. God is making the world by means of evolution. And the evolutionary process in its turn is seen as striving toward God. So, you see, God is Self-expressing and Self-realizing in evolution.

In recent years science has been taking us on a journey full not only of surprises but also of mystery. Cosmology on an unimaginably large scale and elementary particle physics on the incredibly small scale, have gradually laid bare to us the spectacularly beautiful structure of the universe in which we live. Its sheer size makes us aware of our own tininess. On the linear scale of size, we are insignificant - speck of dust in a vast galaxy, which is itself, scarcely more than a speck in the universe ... [We exist] between the incredibly small and the incredibly large dimensions revealed to us by nuclear physics and astronomy, respectively. Just what are we human beings? And what is this universe? Is it really our home, or are we just tiny transient beings that it has happened to throw up as matter and energy, mindless to exploit the inherent potential in the laws of nature?

None of us faces these questions dispassionately. The universe is far too awe-inspiring for that. Nor do we face them disinterestedly. We cannot remain untouched by such questions - after all, we are here. And so our minds insist on asking about the nature of our relationship to the universe.

It seems to me that if we are going to successfully navigate our way through the crises generated by our dominion of the planet, such as climate change, overpopulation, unsustainable agriculture, forestry, fisheries and energy use—biological issues—it would be helpful to collectively accept a scientific basis of our origins. Such acceptance doesn't preclude religion. For example, several years ago the Catholic Church officially recognized evolutionary theory as compatible with its doctrines.

We are called to love this created world as God loves it. We are to help transform this universe from within by seeing Christin the heart of matter—in all peoples, creatures, elements, stars, and galaxies.Such vision requires openness to new relationships, new ideas, abandoning messianic expectations, accepting incompleteness as part of life, recovering the capacity of wonder, and living in the primacy of love. Unless we realize the Christ in our own personal lives, however, we shall continue to suffer the violence of blind evolution. We have the capacity to heal this earth and bind its wounds in love, but do we have the desire?

Evolution is speeding up in the universe, and we are moving into a new level of religious consciousness that is more global and pluralistic in nature. Does Christianity have something distinct to offer, or are we too worn out by internal divisions and complex theological traditions? Do we long at times for the old fixed universe?

We are called to be whole-makers, to evolve by uniting, growing and becoming more complex. We are not to seek the living among the dead. Rather, we are to forge a new future, a new hope, a new life that begins with our own lives.

Faith in our time requires us to grow up and learn to relate with God in a new way. As co-creators with our creative God, we are invited and challenged to relate as adults to an adult God, modeled for Christians in the adult life-example of Jesus. This requires that we replace:

• The patriarchal sky-God with the divine life-force we encounter in the miracle of God’s creation

• Hierarchical top-down dependency with a sense of mutual equality and interdependence

• Power-over with power-with (empowerment)

• Parental-type, controlling relationships with those based on mutuality (as modeled in the Trinity)

• A product mentality in which everything is essentially predetermined with a process outlook that respects the divinely inspired evolutionary nature of life

• Faith communities where the focus tends to be on control and top-down governance (priest, imam, rabbi), to one centered on people and programmed for mutual empowerment.

What the Christ means is the confluence of divinity and physicality, spirit and matter. When the material and spiritual worlds coexist, we have Christ. Christ is not Jesus’ last name. The book of Acts says God has raised up Jesus and anointed him as the Christ. Our new awareness of the cosmos’ vastness and unimaginably ancient history is forcing us to rehear those scripture texts.

It’s exciting good news. The Jesus we now have, the Jesus we participate in, are graced by, are redeemed by, is the risen Christ, the eternal Christ. The word “Christ” means “the anointed one,” and that anointment by God includes us and all of creation.

The Gospels are about the historical Jesus. Paul, however, whose writings make up a third of the New Testament, never talks about that Jesus. He is talking about the Christ. Jesus is the microcosm; Christ is the macrocosm. There is a movement between the two that we ourselves have to imitate in our life and walk, the resurrection journey.

. . . The mystery we are about is . . . that the material and the spiritual coexist. It’s the mystery of the Incarnation. Once we restore the idea that the Incarnation means God truly loves creation then we restore the sacred dimension to nature. We bring the plants and animals and all of nature in with us. They are windows into the endless creativity, fruitfulness and joy of God. We assert that we believe in the sweep of history, humanity and all of creation that Christ includes.

Incarnation is already redemption. Bethlehem was more important than Calvary. It is good to be human. The Earth is good. God has revealed that God has always been here. It’s a Franciscan approach, and indeed was the theology of key Franciscan figures like Duns Scotus and St. Bonaventure. It will increasingly become mainline spirituality as we become more comfortable with an expanded view of the mystery of Incarnation in the cosmos. If we Christians had taken this mystery seriously, we would never have raped the planet like we do, never have developed such an inadequate theology about sexuality.

[Evolutionary spirituality's] Integral Spirit cosmology postulates that we humans participate in and contribute to the divine journey. We can apply our distinctive capacities for reflective consciousness and choice either to advance creation’s evolutionary thrust toward ever more creative possibility, or to disrupt it. Together, our individual choices determine our collective fate and shape the course of the journey far beyond our time.

We find threads of this story in the traditional wisdom teachings of indigenous peoples and the mystical traditions of all faiths, including the Abrahamic faiths. In his expression of his Jewish faith, Jesus taught, “The Kingdom is within.” Muhammad taught, “Wherever you turn, there is the Face of Allah."

The Integral Spirit cosmology is consistent with the findings of quantum physics, which reveals that the apparent solidity of matter is an illusion and at the deepest level of understanding only relationships are real. I find that Integral Spirit is the underlying cosmology of a reassuring number of religious leaders and devout members of many faiths, including a great many Catholic nuns, as well as most people who define themselves as spiritual, but not necessarily religious.

The mystics of our Christian tradition . . . experienced a harmonization of their lives with the greater rhythms of existence. . . . The paradox of the Divine is at once the radiant, complete, and changeless ground of all that is. Yet the Divine is also the incessant urge to manifest deeper and deeper expressions of wholeness and integration. . . . There is something of the holy embrace of God in the very structure of the universe, changeless and changing.

Remember, Synod 2013 registration is easy!
You can register online, here.
Or call 612-379-1043 to have a brochure/registration form
mailed to you.

Looking forward to seeing you at
Synod 2013!

See also the previous PCV posts:
Save the Date: Synod of the Baptized, September 28, 2013
Countdown to Synod 2013 (Part 1)
Countdown to Synod 2013 (Part 2)
A Homily for Evolutionary Sunday
Dueling Worldviews

Image: A photograph (actually, a composite of images) taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona. It was featured on NASA's website as an Astronomy Picture of the Day in May 2003 and thereafter reproduced on a number of websites under the title "The Eye of God" (though there is no evidence that NASA has ever referred to it as such). The awe-inspiring image has also been featured on magazine covers and in articles about space imagery. It depicts the so-called Helix Nebula, described by astronomers as "a trillion-mile-long tunnel of glowing gases." At its center is dying star which has ejected masses of dust and gas to form tentacle-like filaments stretching toward an outer rim composed of the same material. Our own sun may look like this in several billion years.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Dueling Worldviews

By Paula Ruddy

Did you know that . . .

• Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR) is holding
its third Synod of the Baptized on Saturday, September 28,
at Ramada MOA in Bloomington,


Archbishop John Nienstedt is holding a
Rediscover Catholicism” conference on Saturday,
October 12, at St. Paul RiverCentre.

• CCCR’s keynoter is Sister Gail Worcelo, who will talk
about co-creating the living church, a vision
for reform for the 21st Century,


Archbishop Nienstedt has invited George Weigel to address the Rediscover celebration. Weigel’s book Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st Century Church (2013)
writes the prescription for curing the "disease"
we are experiencing in the church today.

Both CCCR and the Archbishop agree that reform is necessary. That is a great step forward.

Now can we come together on a program for reform?

The Archbishop seems inclined to adopt George Weigel’s program for reform, called Evangelical Catholicism. It has many good points we could all agree on. We all want to respond to God’s love by uniting our hearts and souls to the divine, what Weigel calls cultivating “friendship with Jesus.” We all want to witness to God’s love in the world, evangelism. We all want the Church to be a community modeling that living witness. We all need institutional leaders, bishops, to provide a structure for our communal life and to serve the mission Jesus gives us.

Worldview One

Here is the rub. Weigel’s program is based on the idea that “what the Church teaches” and “what the Gospel reveals” are one and the same. If you are calling yourself “Catholic” you must accept that the Holy Spirit is with the bishops alone when it comes to Church teaching. There is no room for our experience that there are disconnects between the Gospel and Church policies and practices. There is no justification for lay people’s questioning the bishops. My raising the question here about what program of reform the Archbishop should adopt is utterly out-of-line in the Evangelical Catholic worldview. Weigel says the bishop is not a discussion club leader. There is no such thing as “loyal dissent.” If I were “thinking with the mind of the Church” in this cultural framework, I would not address the same questions the Archbishop must address, like “What is good for this Archdiocese.” Rather I’d ask “What does the Archbishop say is good for this Archdiocese?” Then, receiving the answer, I’d get wholeheartedly behind his program. Being Catholic is entering into a life of identity with Catholic culture.

Given this worldview, it is no wonder Archbishop Nienstedt is dismayed by CCCR’s asking the questions that are within his job description and questioning his judgments. From this point of view, it is impudence, rebellion, defiant “dissent”, entirely out-of-line for us to question his opposition to civil marriage for same-sex couples or to question any position the bishops espouse. Within the “symphony of truth” that is Catholic culture, priests and laity get behind the bishop’s programs whatever they are. It is no wonder that he tells us to go to another church. In his view, we aren’t “Catholic.”

Reading Weigel’s book was a revelation to me. In all my 78 years of being Catholic I never thought asking questions was impudent or rebellious. I always thought it was being helpful. During the civil marriage debates I always expected the Archbishop to respond to reasoning with counter-reasoning. I never understood how a repetition of the Church’s position was thought to be sufficient as an answer to an argument. Now that I glimpse into that worldview I can see that from that point of view a statement of the bishops’ position is enough. Asking for reasons is a challenge to authority. I see now what a disappointment we were, just as his refusal to reason together was a disappointment to us.

Worldview Two

The worldview I take for granted with CCCR is based on the belief that the Holy Spirit is with everyone of good will working through human agency. God is both immanent — in the world — and transcendent — more than the world. In this culture people are responsible to contribute whatever insights or values they have to the common project. The market-place of ideas sorts the valuable from the not so valuable. We come to a shared understanding, agreeing on what is needed, and throw ourselves into the common project. It is a different culture from Evangelical Catholicism, but it is firmly Catholic in its grounding in incarnation. We belong to the institutionalized community of the Church in which there are many cultures contributing their points of view.

Weigel says this worldview is born of modernism, postmodernism, “the imperial, autonomous Self”, individualism, too much psychology, subjectivism — all in all, an evil perspective. Anyone who doesn’t “think with the mind of the Church”, i.e. unquestioningly support the bishops’ leadership, is to be called out as a weed among the wheat. He gives lots of examples of weeds: Hans Küng, Roger Haight, Elizabeth Johnson, the sisters of the LCWR, and anyone who opposes the bishops’ positions in the political arena.

Thank God Weigel is not our Archbishop. Maybe John Nienstedt, though he shares Weigel’s worldview, will have the grace of his pastoral office to visit our point of view as we visit his. He will see that we do not intend to encroach on his God-given role. We know he is the “chief catechist” and we want to work with him. Our process would be to sit down with the Archbishop and other stakeholders to work it out together, taking into account differences among us and being careful for all. That is what “reason” is for.

We can hope that our Archbishop will listen to Pope Francis instead of George Weigel. Pope Francis seems to love the world.

We ask only one thing: that you reach out! And that you go and seek out and encounter the most needy! . . . Does this mean going to convince someone to become Catholic? No, no, no! You are just reaching out to meet him, he is your brother! That is enough. You reach out to help them, the rest is done by Jesus, by the Holy Spirit.
— Pope Francis to the Argentinians on the Feast of St. Cajetan
August 7, 2013.

Perhaps, emulating Francis, we can grow beyond seeing the worldviews as conflicting. We and the bishops can believe that they are intended by God to teach and lead, and, at the same time, believe that the best way for them to do that in a postmodern world is to be reasonable and attentive to the needs of the people.

Let us know what reforms you think are needed. And register for Synod 2013 at www.cccrmn.org!

See also the previous PCV posts:
Countdown to Synod 2013
A Review of Matthew Kelly's Rediscover Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion and Purpose
East Side, West Side: Opposing Views of the Good
"All Voices Must Be Heard": A Response to Archbishop Nienstedt
Big Deal or No Big Deal?
A Tale of Two Cultures: Vatican and American
The Call of the Baptized: Be the Church, Live the Mission
CCCR Responds to Censure from Chancery

Recommended Off-site Link:
In the Garden of Spirituality – Ron RolheiserThe Wild Reed (August 20, 2007).

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Taking Action to Decentralize the Church

A new global group is educating Catholics about an important early church tradition and inviting them to sign a letter to Pope Francis, urging him to once again allow Catholics to elect their own bishops.

Catholic Church Reform is a global community supporting decentralization of the Roman Catholic Church, primarily by advocating a return to the early church practice that saw the people elect the bishops of their diocese.

Two local groups, the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform and the Council of the Baptized, have formally endorsed Catholic Church Reform's call for lay participation in the selection of bishops.

On its website Catholic Church Reform notes that:

Pope Francis has brought a breath of fresh air to the Roman Church. And he is rekindling the hopes of millions of Catholics and non-Catholics alike who had felt increasingly discouraged and alienated from the Church in the past. For decades, reform groups globally have been working to promote some aspect of Church reform, but they have been met with a Church that has been unwilling to change. But now that Pope Francis has brought to Rome a new, positive spirit of openness, he has rekindled our hopes for change on many fronts.

Our mission is to gather all of this energy and focus our communal love for the Church and passion for reform on a single cause: urging Pope Francis and his council of eight cardinals to decentralize the Church and encourage the People of God in each diocese throughout the world to elect their own bishops. We think this step is essential before the Church can turn to more specific reform issues. Electing our own bishops will make for a new, more vibrant Church in which the people of God – led by the clerical, religious, and lay leaders – will have a voice in what Vatican II declared was our Church. With movement from the bottom up, the Church will be more welcoming to those outside its doors. Whether you are an active Catholic, a former Catholic, or a non-Catholic, if your respect for the Church would be enhanced by a a more people-centered Catholic Church, we invite you to be a part of our online community.

We have two choices: We can sit and bemoan what is wrong in the Church or we can take action. To remain silent is to become complicit with the wrong.

Accordingly, Catholic Church Reform is encouraging Catholics to take action by signing a letter to Pope Francis, urging him to invite all Catholics globally - in unity with the local clergy, religious leaders and lay leaders - to elect their own bishops.

To read and sign this letter, click here.

Following is a 2-minute video that Catholic Church Reform has made to help spread its message and invite people to take action.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Countdown to Synod 2013

is less than two months away!

No doubt many of you reading this have already registered to be part of this important and exciting event in our local church on Saturday, September 28. Thank you!

If you haven't yet registered, now is the time to do so! For one thing, registering now will help Synod organizers in their planning. Also, if you register now the fee is only $50. After September 1 it increases to $55. To register online, click here. (To have an informational brochure/registration form mailed to you, call 612-379-1043.)

The Progressive Catholic Voice is committed to "Co-creating the Living Church" and has started a "Countdown to Synod 2013" series of posts. (For the first in this series, click here.)

Getting to know our Synod 2013 keynote speaker . . .

Sister Gail Worcelo, sgm

In this second post in our Countdown to Synod 2013 series, we spotlight Sr. Gail Worcelo, sgm, a Catholic practitioner of evolutionary spirituality and the co-founder with Thomas Berry of Green Mountain Monastery in Vermont. Sister Gail will be the keynote speaker at Synod 2013, where she will share with us insights into how to be Catholic Christians at home in the universe, co-creating a living church.

Following, in Sister Gail's own words, is how she describes her commitment to "the fire of Christ’s love" and thus to connecting with others "in order to become Love In Action for the total Earth Community."

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.

Dance has always been my passion. I began taking ballet and tap lessons as a child and continue to this day, using dance as an art form for healing Earth.

In the 1980′s I studied Liturgical Dance with Carla DeSola and became a choreographer of this style which I have been able to integrate into the beauty of liturgy as an embodied expression of praise and adoration of the Divine.

I joined the Passionist nuns, a monastic community of women in 1982 with a Master’s degree in Christian Spirituality from Fordham University. During my novitiate in 1984, Thomas Berry, who was a priest in the same congregation, came to the monastery to give us classes on the Universe Story and our role as humans in that story.

Thomas became my mentor and guide and I began to study with him at the Riverdale Center for Religious Research in NYC. He continued to mentor me until his death in 2009.

During my years at my former monastery I founded and directed, Homecomings: Center for Ecology and Contemplation (1990-1999), served on the Leadership Team as Councilor and Novice director of the community, (1992-1999,) obtained a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology (1993), and began traveling around the world giving retreats to congregations of men and women religious based on my work with Thomas Berry (1990-present).

. . . I am passionate about giving myself fully to the fire of Christ’s love and connecting with others whose deep desire is the same in order to become Love In Action for the total Earth Community. . . . I am currently working on a book on the topic of the evolution of Christ consciousness and its new emergence within religious life.

Note: Sister Gail was interviewed in December 2010 for the Advent of Evolutionary Christianity audio-series. To listen to this conversation, click here.

Remember, Synod 2013 registration is easy!
You can register online, here.
Or call 612-379-1043 to have a brochure/registration form
mailed to you.

Looking forward to seeing you at
Synod 2013!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Are You Serious?

By Rev. Michael V. Tegeder

By its name, the Napa Institute could be anything. But according to its website it is a society for Catholics who "take their faith seriously;" a society that "emboldens Catholics to live and defend their faith" in the face of a growing secularization of society. Among its goals is to "better form Catholics in a life shaped by liturgy, prayer, fasting, sacred art and music, and habits of holiness."

The institute's "cornerstone" is the annual conference which will occur from August 1 until August 4 (I write right before their rites.) Among the serious Catholics prominently displayed as being in attendance is our own self-proclaimed Chief Catechist, Archbishop J. C. Nienstedt (along with Archbishops Gomez, Chaput, Aquila, Cordileone, and Brunett; Bishops Vasa, Vann, and Morlino, the usual suspects.)

And the setting for these serious Catholics for their four days of intense liturgy, prayer, fasting and habits of holiness is the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, California.

For the unknowing allow me to cite the company's website:

Just like the wine that inspired its name, the Meritage Resort and Spa is the perfect blend of wine tasting, dining, spa, beautiful event spaces, romance and indulgence — all in one California Wine Country hotel. Unwind among the sun-drenched vineyards of our award-winning resort, offering world-class luxury in the heart of Napa Valley, California.

Sounds like secularization to me. And what better place for serious Catholics to boldly confront it right in the belly of the beast.

But I digress, the conference invitation asks the difficult questions:

Why should you attend? Part of being a Catholic leader is knowing your faith, and who better to teach you than the best of the best? The conference also inspires attendees to shape their lives by habits of holiness, including liturgy, prayer, fasting. . . . This is a conference that explores the best in Catholic thought, never forgetting that the source and summit of Catholicism is the Eucharist. There are multiple Masses offered each day in the Meritage's Estate Cave or in the resort's Our Lady of Grapes Chapel. [I am not making this up.]

I can picture the worthies offering their intense propitiations in the Chapel of Our Lady's Grapes. It is comforting to know that our own Local Ordinary is among the best of the best and what better place for him to join with the rest of the best to properly celebrate the Eucharist in memory of the lowly carpenter who had not a place to lay his head and who shared his table with the outcast. And although Jesus seemingly ignored appellations, his own vintage had good ratings ergo enjoy.

Placing a call to the most hospitable staff I was informed that they especially welcome wedding "events" at these same chapels and yes they do accommodate same sex celebrations. Hopefully enhanced scheduling will prevent any unpleasant communicatio in sacris. The crosses serious Catholics must bear.

He Is Serious

In a Huffington Post article, Pope Francis is quoted telling a group of Argentine pilgrims to World Youth Day:

I want to tell you something. What is it that I expect as a consequence of World Youth Day? I want a mess. We knew that in Rio there would be great disorder, but I want trouble in the dioceses!" he said, speaking off the cuff in his native Spanish. "I want to see the church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes, schools or structures. Because these need to get out!

"This closing ourselves off within ourselves." Francis could start at the Napa Institute conference with its better than the rest.

And for the rest of us, let us continue to agitate the mystery, messy as it might be in our dioceses.

Rev. Michael V. Tegeder is the pastor of St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church in Minneapolis and of the Church of Gichitwaa Kateri in Minneapolis. This commentary was originally published as part of Fr. Tegeder's "Pastor's Comments" in the August 4, 2013 parish bulletin of St. Frances Cabrini Church.