The God of Surprises

Originally posted on molma.indigo:

Thinking and working to understand being a co-creator with God I came across this poem on a wonderful site I frequent:

May the God of Surprises delight you, inviting you to accept gifts not yet imagined.
May the God of Transformation call you, opening you to continual renewal.
May the God of Justice confront you, daring you to see the world through God’s eyes.
May the God of Abundance affirm you, nudging you towards deeper trust.
May the God of Embrace hold you, encircling you in the hearth of God’s home.
May the God of Hopefulness bless you, encouraging you with the fruits of faith.
May the God of Welcoming invite you, drawing you nearer to the fullness of God’s expression in you.
May God Who is Present be with you, awakening you to God in all things, all people, and all moments.
May God be with you.

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Teilhard de Chardin Quote of the Week (October 20, 2014): Religion and Mysticism



Due to travel schedule, this week’s quote is not from Teilhard de Chardin but is from another one of my favorite authors, Philip St. Romain in the spirit of Teilhard de Chardin:

“To emphasize the pivotal role of faith in relation to mystical experience is not likely to be a popular position these days, however, for to speak of faith is to invoke religious language. The awakening and formation of faith is also the responsibility of religious traditions, and there are many today who seek mystical experience while holding themselves apart from a religious tradition. Although the God of the mystic does, indeed, go beyond the dogmas and rituals of religions, the intellectual, affective, and volitional dimensions of the faith of the mystic are both nurtured and supported by such beliefs and practices. Indeed, it is doubtful that mystical experience can flower and be integrated apart from the wisdom of religious traditions. (The New Age and Transpersonal mysticisms, for example, generally degenerate into pantheism.) On the other hand, it is easy to understand the disgust with which many today view religion, especially in the West. Apart from a mystical tradition, the exoteric dimension of religion makes little sense, producing instead [mere] ideologies, liturgists and dogmatists. This is not true religious faith, however, only a counterfeit. Many Churches are more aware of political developments in the world than of the mystical aspect of Christianity, which is frustrating to those who seek spiritual growth. The best situation, of course, would be for the Church to view mystical union as the goal of religion itself, and to provide formation for all unto this end. This day is coming, but we’ve a long way to go.

– Philip St. Romain, Critical Questions in Christian Contemplative Practice


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Sunday Reflection, 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 19, 2014): Meeting Malice with Kindness that Heals

jesusbreadline “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status.” — Matthew 22:16

This Sunday is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time.  The readings can be found here. Once again, the Pharisees attempt to trap Jesus by asking him about his loyalty to the Roman Empire and his loyalty to the oppressed subjects of the Roman Empire.

The egocentric part of me is sympathetic to the Pharisees (perhaps because I have no small part Pharisee in me).  Unlike other Jews they upheld the Mosaic laws passed on to them by tradition. Unlike other Jews they did not collaborate with the Romans. Unlike other Jews, they did not hang out with sinners.

It is an interesting psychological question as to why the Pharisees were antagonistic towards Jesus.  Were they jealous of his popularity? Were they concerned that Jesus’ message of radical love and mercy would weaken the Mosaic law that had survived brutal occupation and exile from numerous empires? Perhaps rather than using tradition as a pathway to God, the Pharisees substituted these very traditions for God?

This week’s reflection comes from John Predmore, SJ.  You can find the entire reflection here, but set forth below is an excerpt:

It is easy for us to look down upon the Pharisees and condemn them for plotting against Jesus because they have malice in their hearts. We notice the many time when they were in the wrong. We wonder, “How could they do this to Jesus? Did they not know who he was?” If we have these types of thoughts, then we are much like the Pharisees. We cannot be looking for the reasons people are wrong. We have to use the example of Jesus when he detects their malice and leads them to choose a loftier path to take.

We probably all know someone whose life is defined by conflict. These people are not happy unless they are angry with someone. Sometimes, they cannot even remember the reason they are angry with you and over time their anger has morphed into an altogether different reason. It is important to know that we cannot fix these people’s situations. They may always be angry, controlling people. They are fighting with themselves, even though we may be the recipients of their misplaced anger. It is not our fault. The best we can do is to meet their malice with kindness. Memories of kindness linger. Kindness heals.

Pope Francis is teaching the bishops and cardinals about the virtues of kindness. In Rome, he is helping them soften their attitudes about people in contentious social situations – divorced and remarried Catholics, those who cohabitate, and those who are gay and lesbian. While no doctrine is being changed, a fundamental shift occurs when the church no longer labels its own faithful members as adversaries and enemies.

Some will argue that rules must be upheld. Of course, that is true. However, look at the many ways we break the rules daily and if we get caught, we want mercy granted to us. We are overeager in our driving, we can be aggressive pedestrians, we might be silent if a store does not charge us for an item we intend to buy, or we seek inaccurate tax advantages. Some of us take great offense if a neighbor questions our motives or actions. Get off your high horses. We like laws when it is to our advantage, but we all seek to have our minor infractions overlooked. We pick and choose which laws we obey and disregard and we criticize others when they disregard a law we value. Strive for consistency and integrity so that you do not seek the fault in others, but try to bring a balance to your values.

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Toward a Post-Materialistic Science


I came across a recent article by Dave Pruett in the Huffington Post discussing a “Manifesto for a Post-Materialistic Science” that was published in the Fall Issue of Explore. I had not previously heard of the “Manifesto” but it was written by eight reputable scientists and is long overdue to challenge the “religion” of materialism that is prevalent in many scientific circles and segments of modern Western society.

I encourage you to read the entire article here, but set forth below is an an excerpt:

“Science is at its best when open to the potential significance of “damned facts.” It’s at its worst when, constrained by dogma, it ignores them. History records that some of Galileo’s contemporaries, having peered through the telescope to observe the moons of Jupiter, denied the witness of their own eyes, believing these moons “illusions of the devil.” Such is the power of dogma.

Classical physics, which is based upon a mechanistic and materialistic view of nature, has been wildly successful. It’s brought us the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, mechanization, automobiles, air travel, and space exploration.

Quantum mechanics, however, supersedes Newtonian mechanics and undermines the classical assumption of materialism. Nevertheless, many, if not most scientists, remain as firmly locked into the ideology of “scientific materialism” as Galileo’s contemporaries remained in the thrall of Aristotle and Ptolemy.

The newest frontier of science is the study of consciousness, for which a materialistic bias is particularly prejudicial. That is, investigations of consciousness reveal phenomena that appear to violate the existing materialistic paradigm. Materialistically oriented scientists typically reject these so-called “paranormal” phenomena out-of-hand because they fly in the face of cherished preconceptions. The refusal to accept the “damned facts” at face value and confront them head-on is, according to the authors, “antithetical to the true spirit of scientific inquiry.”

The authors then propose a radical, post-materialistic paradigm: “Mind represents an aspect of reality as primordial as the physical world. Mind is fundamental in the universe; i.e., it cannot be derived from matter and reduced to anything more basic.”

* * *

The idea is neither original nor new. One can find intimations of this point of view in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Hegel, and articulation of it in the writings of paleontologist-priest Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) and “geologian”Thomas Berry (1914-2009). What’s new, however, is the naming of the science of the future as “post-materialistic” and that the idea is gaining traction.

* * *

The post-materialistic paradigm grants equal primacy to mind and matter. In the words of Teilhard de Chardin: “There is neither spirit nor matter in the world. The stuff of the universe is spirit-matter. No other substance but this could have produced the human molecule.”

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Teilhard de Chardin Quote of the Week (October 13, 2014): Spirit, Matter and God


There is neither spirit nor matter in the world. The stuff of the universe is spirit-matter. No other substance but this could have produced the human molecule.” — Teilhard de Chardin (cited by Dave Pruett)

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Sunday Reflection, 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 12, 2014): Detachment and Freedom


 “I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” Phil 4:12-13

This Sunday is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings can be found here.  The themes relate to the great wedding feast that God invites us to. The initial guests  are so attached to their daily lives that they ignore the the gift that God is offering them. I have this to be so true in my own life. During the early part of my adulthood, I was so focused on my career and external “success” that I completely neglected the wondrous gifts that God has given me. The guests in the Gospel parable contrasts with the second reading where he so eloquently talks about detachment (quoted above). Detachment is a foundation of Ignatian spirituality. If we are detached from the chains of worldly outcomes: whether it be wealth or poverty, health or sickness, or anything else, we are more free to love God and our neighbor.

This week’s reflection comes from John Bucki, SJ of the Center for Concern. I encourage you to read the entire reflection here, but set forth below is an excerpt:

“The vision of Isaiah is the vision of a God who wants good things for all people.  In a world of poverty and injustice, Isaiah paints a vision of a God who provides for everyone generously. In a world of nationalism and ethnic & racial division, Isaiah paints a vision of a God who destroys the veil/web that covers over and divides all people.  In a world in which people are focused on money and the problems of the economy, Isaiah talks about discovering a God who saves us – a God with a liberating set of values. In a world which continues to see so many tears and so much injustice, Isaiah paints the vision of a God who wants to wipe away those tears and bring us together in a new way.

This vision is repeated in Jesus’ story of the wedding feast.  What God wants is a great wedding feast – a feast that is open to all. God is unhappy when folks don’t accept the invitation. “The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests.”  The vision is expressed in what we call today the “option for the poor.”  The vision is made concrete whenever we work to include those on the outside – those without power – minorities, women, immigrants, refugees, the elderly, the sick, those who don’t fit our expectations and priorities.

In our fast paced and busy world, the story of Jesus reminds us of what can prevent us from sharing in the vision of Jesus.  We get too busy with other things. We miss the invitation. Instead of taking advantage of the feast, we end up going our own way to buy a farm or manage a business. We become preoccupied with money or possessions. We can get separated from the vision of Jesus; we can miss out on the great wedding feast.  We can be distracted by the various ideologies of our culture – consumerism, discrimination, militarism, sexism, racism, fear, isolation, rugged individualism, nationalism, etc.  We can be distracted by wealth or financial security or entertainment or prestige.”

Read Full Reflection

Other Resources:

Living Space
Creighton Online Ministries
John Predmore Reflection
Fr. Robert Barron Podcast

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Big Bang, Darwin, and Evolutionary Images of Divinity

Originally posted on pastordawn:

Benediction LightIn the words of our ancestors as they grappled to tell the story of the Divine Mystery we call God, it is written. “Then God spoke all these words, and said, “I AM YAHWEH who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Do not worship any gods except me! Do not make for yourselves any carved mage or likeness of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters of the earth, and do not bow down to them or serve them! For I, YAHWEH, am a jealous God.” (Exodus 20:1-5)

Joan Chittister, a Roman Catholic nun and brilliant theologian, tells a story about a little girl named Katie who was a second-grader in one of the schools of Chittister’s community. One Friday during art class as the teacher roamed the aisles checking progress, she stopped at Katie’s desk…

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