Friday, April 27, 2012

Care of Creation 6: New Heaven and New Earth

New Heaven and New Earth
Death is integral to who God is—self-giving love.  The giving up and handing over of oneself is the generation of new life; the self-emptying of the Father is the life of the Son.  Without death there is no fullness of life; hence, death is integral to life.  The whole Christian message based on death is simply this:  without death there is no new life.  Everything living dies and everything that dies lives.  In the world of nature, everything is contingent on death.  Because of death the natural world sustains new life.  Death is what makes life possible; it is necessary to the evolution of life because it is the letting go of isolated existence for the sake of greater union.” --Ilia Delio, The Emergent Christ p 77

When I consider my death, I realize that Christ is my hope.  I am not afraid of death because of my faith and hope, but I can't say I'm ready for it.  I prepare for my death by learning to "let go" throughout my life.  I work at letting go of material things and letting go of my ego's need to be in control.  I see this will take a lifetime!  I do work at it and pray for the grace to do it, but I see I have a ways to go still to really be ready to die.  Someone said it isn't death that frightens people so much as dying, and I think that is true.  Jesus teaches us that there is no way of knowing when those last moments will come.  They will come "like a thief in the night."  I strive to be ready whenever those last moments come.  I trust that what lies beyond the grave will be even more amazing than anything I can imagine in this life.  I hope we will all see it together one day.    

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Care of Creation 5: One in the Depth of God's Love

“Jesus sought to create wholes where there were divisions—whole people, whole communities, wholesome living—for the glory of God.  When we sin, we “miss the mark” or we live out of focus, promoting “dis-ease” in the cosmos; relationships are broken, violence ensues, and we become disconnected from one another and from the earth.  The health we seek requires concrete relations of compassion, peace and forgiveness; it requires attentiveness to people, earth, sun, moon and stars, seeing within each created being the divine goodness, beauty, and wisdom.  A healthy cosmos requires healthy people who live in openness, compassionate love, and receptivity to others, accepting others as part of self because we are one in the depth of God’s love”.   -- Ilia Delio, The Emergent Christ pp 65

Ways I live disconnected, out of focus are…when I act out of a desire to please others rather than seeking to bring about the greater peace.  The peaceful solution is sometimes elusive.  What seems to be the peaceful solution may really be just doing what someone I love indicates will be most pleasing, caving in to what I want in the moment, or even blindly obeying an authority figure who may themselves be "off the mark."  The ramifications of those actions are sometimes far-reaching and hard for me to untangle.  At those times I feel disconnected because I don't know what will help the situation even after recognizing what went wrong.  These are situations I take to God in prayer and trust knowing that God is never disconnected and I am connected to God.

Being unfocused is not always a negative.  I learned this as a technique when I was a sailboat skipper.  In order to see the marker way out on the horizon, you have to let your eyes go a bit unfocused.  Focusing too hard on the horizon creates a blind spot and the marker will always elude you even if you can see brief flashes of it.  A relaxed gaze reveals the marker clearly and you can find the right direction from it.  So, there is a value in being unfocused in order to find the way.  
Being disconnected has a similar value.  For me there is more of a problem in being overly connected than being disconnected.  I find I need to purposely "disconnect" to sort out my emotions and reflect on deeper meanings.  
Ways I can become more healthy are by moderating my desire for connection with my need for a healthy degree of disconnection.  I also need to use good judgement in choosing how and what to be connected with.  I am most healthy when I focus in moderation.  Not focusing at all leaves me vulnerable to stagnation and focusing too hard makes me blind to the truth right before me...sometimes exactly where I am looking, but am unable to see it.   

On a cosmic level I know that I am always connected to all the rest of creation.  I know this in an intuitive way and do not try to control or employ my own conscious awareness of that reality in order to direct the actions of others.  I let that awareness of being  deeply connected and loved seep in and heal me so that I can be a healing presence for others.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Care of Creation 4 - Humility, Love and Courage

“Resurrection happens NOW or it does not happen at all.  It happens in us and around us, in soul and history, in nature and universe.  Every act of death and resurrection is an act of new creation, an evolution toward greater unity.  The whole evolutionary universe is birthing of Christ through the power of the Spirit, who is the power of wholeness for the whole cosmos.  Since we are the continuation of Christ in evolution, the positive direction of evolution depends on our choices and actions.  In Christ, biological evolution is fulfilled in its potential for God.  We give ourselves to Christ and to his cause and values, which means not losing the world but finding the world in its truest reality and in its deepest relation to God.”      -- Ilia Delio, The Emergent Christ p 96

I feel my choices and actions are an act of new creation when I am conscious of giving life to another through my presence, thoughts words or actions.  This can take surprising forms but it is more easy for me to assess in how another receives what I am giving.  That is why communication is so crucially important.  Creation is not for its own sake alone, it is all for love and about love which is the medium through which God brings about redemption.  But love is a kinetic energy radiating outwardly and inwardly, upwardly and downwardly all at once.  Those of us who are in care giving ministries know that what is given is not always received as it was intended...and what is given unintentionally is sometimes just the thing that is needed.  There is great humility in this.  We improve our participation in the redemption by growing in conscious awareness of how our attempts are received and what affects they bring about.  I have always found that I get better results when I act with humility, love and courage.  Jesus makes up the difference.  Thank God for that!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Comment from Anselm Nye

I was most interested in comments on the influence of the Stone constitutions on US Dominican congregations - I was aware of all of these with the exception of their use by the Elkins Park Sisters - and it's something I mention in summing up the legacy of the current English Congregation in the final chapter of my book.  The 1855 edition was only half the work, there was no section on government and it was more like a compendium of Dominican lore than law.

The Sisters commissioned me to prepare their history for publication in 2009 and "A Peculiar Kind of Mission: the English Dominican Sisters, 1845-2010" was published in October. 

One thing that interested me in reading M. Thomas Lillis' history of your congregation was Mother Pia's attitude to amalgamation.  The amalgamation of the five small English groups in 1929 was something of a disaster and was handled very badly by Father Louis Nolan. Certainly the Australian Dominicans had heard about the negative effects.  It's clear that there was an underlying suspicion on the part of some US Prioresses General that Nolan's establishment of the Conference would bring in "amalgamation by the back door".  I wonder whether part of their unease was caused by rumors of the unhappy consequences of the English amalgamation.  If there are any references in your archives to the English amalgamation I would be most interested to hear.

Wishing you all the blessings of Easter,
Anselm Nye

Monday, April 9, 2012

Care of Creation 3 - Redemption Right Now

Redeemer Christ
“If the nature of love is unity and evolution is process toward greater unity, then sin is resistance to unity.  It is the refusal to participate in the web of life...the refusal to change and grow.  It describes the personal history of one who was created for communion and refuses it.  Sin is the refusal to accept responsibility for those to whom we are connected.  Sin is the refusal to be a person of true relationship, which results in a broken human community and in abandonment of the natural world.  The desire to overcome sin is the desire to overcome all obstacles that stand in the way of the accomplishment of God’s creative aim, which is the fullest possible sharing of life and love between God and creation.” -- Ilia Delio, The Emergent Christ pp 57

It is our belief that we who enter into relationship with Christ the Risen One, die to sin.  Christ is the one who heals all wounds and rights the balance of relationship throughout all the created world.  We have a responsibility to respond to this generous gift of God with love and to let God grow love in us for the sake of salvation, not for our own gain or credit, but for the greater good of all creation.  When we let the love of God thrum throughout our whole being we can break through the fetters of all that would hold us prisoners of our sinful human condition.  We are undeserving of this gift and yet it is ours.  The humility that comes with accepting this reality is what prompts us to promise to love without condition, to give up all we might be tempted to call our own, and to listen to the groans of a world still enslaved in order to participate in the redemption happening right now in our midst.