Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Countdown to Synod 2013

is less than a week 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 presents today Part 6 of its "Countdown to Synod 2013" series.

In this latest installment we continue our exploration of Synod 2013's overall theme, that being evolutionary spirituality, by sharing an excerpt from "Living the New Story," an interview with Sister Miriam Theresa MacGillis by Alan AtKisson.

AtKisson introduces his interview with MacGillis by noting that: "Theologian Thomas Berry has emerged as a key teller of [the 'New Story' at the heart of evolutionary spirituality], and Sister Miriam Theresa MacGillis is one of his foremost interpreters. Through her workshops and lectures, she helps people to understand and embody this new understanding of what it means to be human. Miriam is the director of Genesis Farm, a center for education in earth stewardship, sponsored by the Dominican Congregation in affiliation with Global Education Associates."

Synod 2013's keynote speaker Sister Gail Worcelo is a practitioner of evolutionary spirituality and a co-founder with Thomas Berry of Green Mountain Monastery in Vermont.

NOTE: For previous installments in the "Countdown to Synod 2013" series, see:
Part 1: When, Where, Why, What!
Part 2: Synod 2013 Keynote Speaker: Sister Gail Worcelo
Part 3: Synod 2013 Theme: Evolutionary Spirituality
Part 4: Media Coverage of Synod 2013 and CCCR
Part 5: Synod 2013 Break-Out Sessions

Part 6: The "New Story" at the Heart of Evolutionary Spirituality

Alan AtKisson: What is the heart of the "New Story"?

Miriam Theresa MacGillis: We are now in a position, based on our scientific explorations, to understand the origin and process out of which the universe has emerged, and with it the solar system, planet Earth, all of life, and the human as well. For the first time all peoples of the Earth can understand this origin story, and it places everyone – their history, their significance, and their roles – in a whole new light.

The most significant part of this scientific story is that the universe has emerged not only in its physical dimensions, but also in its inner, psychic, spiritual dimension. It is an integrated evolutionary process. When we reflect on that, we can begin to understand our place in that process – which is to be that being in whom the Earth has acquired a self-reflective consciousness. That changes all the definitions that we have about ourselves and our nature.

Any school child learning contemporary science and Earth studies has this information available. If we can understand that our life and human history is as much a part of the unfolding of the universe as is the natural world, then we can see that all peoples, cultures, religious traditions, and ethnic diversities have also been part of the same process, and have therefore played a significant role in it. The Earth desperately needs the sum total of all that wisdom in order to go forward into the next stage of evolution.

Alan: We're now in the process of telling ourselves this New Story, and teaching it to our children. How can we begin to live it? How can it become manifested in our lives?

Miriam: I think at every level of our humanness, in the whole inner psychic structure out of which we define our sense of person and individuality. We’re beginning to realize now that the self is an expression of this deeper Earth self, and the even deeper Universe self – that there are no separations. The whole is my whole self. Psychically, the sense of unity – true unity – with the inner dimension of the universe then becomes an incredibly beautiful and enticing mystery to enter into. And in terms of our emotional life, the feelings of communion, union with the whole, or oneness are no longer just the idealistic notions of poetic insight. They are empirically founded, because we know that in our very genes we are connected to the whole.

Physically, it’s the same idea. When we begin to identify with the whole physical being of the planet, then we can see the necessity of enhancing and conserving the integrity of the whole natural world – because it’s the functioning of this part of the planet that makes it possible for humans even to exist. Without air, water, soil, vegetation, there’s no human life. I mean, the Earth literally is our body.

Alan: Doesn’t living this New Story amount to a thoroughgoing revolution in religious life?

Miriam: More of a transformation, because in a revolution one party just changes places with another party. A transformation brings everybody forward.

Alan: How does a transformation relate to history? What part of the past comes with us?

Miriam: I think we carry the entire past. We’re not cutting ourselves off from the past, as though the past were wrong and we’re making an enormous corrective that disconnects us from it. The past has made it possible to have these kinds of insights.

The major shift we’re making now is in our concept of time and space. In the old cosmologies, time was cyclical, and the universe fixed and static. But in this new context, the universe is a constantly emerging process. Time itself is development. Therefore, everything in the past has been essential to open up the possibilities for what is yet to develop – like the tree in the acorn. The acorn has to go through all the states of its process to bring forth a tree, and the tree is very different from the acorn. But you can’t have one without the other.

Alan: That leads us to some interesting questions about the relation of a people to their traditions. How will this affect Catholics and Buddhists and those of other faiths?

Miriam: I believe it will deepen and re-enliven their connections. I find myself more deeply committed to my tradition than ever before. The difference is that the meanings within the meanings have changed. In other words, the forms which held meanings in the past have been opened up to much deeper meanings – so the forms have to adapt and change.

To read Alan AtKisson's interview with Miriam Theresa MacGillis in its entirety, 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!

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)
Countdown to Synod 2013 (Part 3)
Countdown to Synod 2013 (Part 4)
Countdown to Synod 2013 (Part 5)
A Homily for Evolutionary Sunday
Dueling Worldviews

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