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.


  1. What a great set of quotations! Thanks for them. One of the break-out sessions at the Synod is called The Universe Story. Nancy Cosgriff, the leader, will show how the patterns of evolution in the universe toward interiority or subjectivity, toward diversity, and toward interdependence or community are also central to the Gospel message. What if the institutionalized community we call Church supported our development in those patterns?

  2. The world is in a constant battle against many things, among it is faith. It is a hard battle. It is a war not so in the old setting that people are beheaded because of their faith but the real challenge is within us. We are constantly diverted and drawn away from our faith.

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  4. On my blog about Progressive Christianity (from a rather Protestant perspective) I touch on similar topics at times:


    I would be interested if we could kind of interact in the future.

    Lovely greetings from continental Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son