Sabbatical

SabbaticalScapes

 

 

It has been 21 months since I started this blog. It has been a fun journey and I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to connect with so many wonderful people throughout the world. The Noosphere is definitely developing.

However, the time commitments of family and work are continuing to increase and reluctantly I am not able to devote as much time to this blog as I had previously. I will still keep the blog active but the posts may be infrequent.  I am humbled and inspired by the wonderful blogging community and the renewed interest in Teilhard de Chardin. In the meantime, please stop by The Teilhard Project for updates on this exciting documentary.

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Let’s Play Pretend

Originally posted on Striving After the Wind:

In my previous post I encouraged my readers to take part in a meditation practice. The practice allowed us to create a vivid image of a perfected world. To imagine and visualize as concretely as possible a newly painted canvas of the world. To recall this image and continuously reform, reshape, and renew it.To begin to hope that the existence of such a world is truly possible. However for this practice to begin to take form beyond our imaginations and out into the world, unity is required. For humanities hope to slowly begin to transform all that we see around us there must be agreement about the object and aim of our future. Our hope must be directed towards and centered around a universal objective to become realized on earth today.

I want to suggest that our vehicle and object of hope is love. Love is the thing we must be directed…

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Teilhard de Chardin Quote of the Week (January 19, 2015): Hope for the Future

sunrise_christian

“I’m setting out in a notebook various thoughts, that gradually fall into groups around several main centres. I still think that my first essay will attempt to define my views on the constructive (creative, I might even say) properties of hope. (1) I shall begin, I imagine, by expressing as vividly as I can our situation in regard to the future: flung into existence, we are forced to advance into a future which terrifies us by its novelty and disheartens us by the ‘chance ‘ that seems to govern its development. We suffer equally from the determinist processes that involve us in their various phases, and from the forbidding indeterminism of chances whose multiplicity and slenderness make it impossible for us to control them.—(2) Following upon that, I shall put forward (without proving it except by its effectiveness in action and its compatibility with dogma) a particular concept of faith. If the future seems to us so uncontrollable—both in its causal sequences and its capaciousness—it is because we are afraid to plunge with it.”

–– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Making of a Mind; Letters from a Soldier-Priest (p. 234-35)

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Martin Luther King, Jr. and Catholic Moral Law

Martin Luther King, Jr. joining hands with Catholic clergy and other religious leaders.

Martin Luther King, Jr. joining hands with Catholic clergy and other religious leaders.

[Note: The Teilhard de Chardin Quote of the Week will appear tomorrow]

In the United States, we celebrate the life and ideals of Martin Luther King, Jr. today.  Last Saturday, I went to see the movie Selma.  I came in with low expectations, expecting a typical Hollywood story that would depict Dr. King as a one-dimensional larger than life figure and “secularize” the Christian faith component of Dr. King. After watching the film, I was pleasantly surprised. Despite some historical inaccuracies (especially the portrayal of President Lyndon Johnson), it was overall an outstanding film.  It showed Dr. King as a very complex person, including his doubts and sins that plagued him and his relationships (especially with Coretta Scott King). It also showed the deep Christian faith that Dr. King had that inspired him with the courage to lead his non-violent movement for justice.

Today, I would like to reflect on something I wrote last year on Martin Luther King Day which showed how the Catholic concept of moral law was the basis Dr. King used to support his nonviolent actions to promote civil rights.  Perhaps the most prominent example of this combination is King’s actions in 1963 in Birmingham and the related Letters from a Birmingham Jail.

According to Wikipedia, The Birmingham Campaign began on April 3, 1963, with coordinated marches and sit-ins against racism and racial segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. The non-violent campaign was coordinated by Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights and King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. On April 10, Circuit Judge W. A. Jenkins issued a blanket injunction against “parading, demonstrating, boycotting, trespassing and picketing”. Leaders of the campaign announced they would disobey the ruling. On April 12, King was roughly arrested and put in jail.

King met with unusually harsh conditions in the Birmingham jail. An ally smuggled in a newspaper from April 12, which contained “A Call for Unity”: a statement made by eight white Alabama clergymen against King and his methods. The letter provoked King and he began to write a response on the newspaper itself. King writes in Why We Can’t Wait: “Begun on the margins of the newspaper in which the statement appeared while I was in jail, the letter was continued on scraps of writing paper supplied by a friendly black trusty, and concluded on a pad my attorneys were eventually permitted to leave me.”

King responded to his fellow clergy in a tone and spirit of brotherly love.  However, he was also very clear in his advocacy of the righteousness of his position. The brilliance of King’s letter is that his response was grounded in the core of Christian faith without belittling his opponents. The full text of the letter can be found here but set forth below is a key excerpt which highlights the Catholic moral law as the foundation for his actions:

[T]here are two types of laws: there are just laws, and there are unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “An unjust law is no law at all.” Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law, or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. To use the words of Martin Buber, the great Jewish philosopher, segregation substitutes an “I – it” relationship for the “I – thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. So segregation is not only politically, economically, and sociologically unsound, but it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Isn’t segregation an existential expression of man’s tragic separation, an expression of his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness?”

In 2013, in honor of the 50th anniversary of Letters From a Birmingham Jail, Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A., a broad coalition of Christian churches (including Catholic, Orthodox, mainline protestant, evangelical protestant) issued a response. The response is equal to Dr. King’s in its commitment to the Christian ideal and social justice.  The full text can be found here but set forth is an excerpt:

As church leaders, we confess we have tended to emphasize our responsibility to obey the law while neglecting our equal moral obligation to change laws that are unjust in their substance or application. All too often, the political involvement of Christians has been guided by the pursuit of personal or group advantage rather than a biblically grounded moral compass. We confess it is too easy for those of us who are privileged to counsel others simply to “wait”—or to pass judgment that they deserve no better than what they already have.

We confess that we are slow to listen and give legitimacy to those whose experience of race relations and social privilege in America is different than our own. We keep the “other” at arm’s length to avoid hearing the call to sacrifice on their behalf. Our reluctance to embrace our “inescapable network of mutuality” underscores Dr. King’s observation that privileged groups seldom give up their advantages voluntarily. For example, it is difficult to persuade most suburban Christians to demand that they strive for the same quality of education in our cities that they take for granted in their own schools. To the extent that we do not listen in love, our influence in society is limited to “a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound.”

We confess that we often prefer stability to upheaval, even when upheaval is the necessary precondition for the establishment of justice. We confess that we often avoid the fiscal, emotional, and spiritual costs of changing our beloved institutions—even when called to do so by our Lord and Savior. Our churches and denominational structures thus fail in critical ways to model the “creative psalm of brotherhood” invoked by Dr. King.  Recent efforts in the Christian community toward “racial reconciliation,” though laudable in intent, tend to stop short of Dr. King’s vision of true justice and fellowship. Sunday morning remains the most segregated time in our nation.”

Dr. King and Christian Churches Together set a high standard for all of us to follow.  I pray today that I may have the wisdom and courage to follow their example.

Resources:

Letters From a Birmingham Jail
Christian Churches Together Response to Letters from a Birmingham Jail
U.S. Catholic Bishops Resources on the “Response”

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Sunday Reflection, Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 18, 2015): Patience

 

 

 

Patience3

This Sunday is the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings can be found here. We are in Ordinary Time for the next several weeks, both liturgically and in my daily routine. The kids are back at school and things are getting back to normal at work. As I get back into the routine of daily life, I am noticing the familiar challenges come up: a too busy schedule, too little sleep, pressures at work, etc. Despite these minor annoyances, I realize I am very blessed with good healthy, a good family and a good job.

However, I am noticing a dryness in my prayer life. I realize that this is normal but at the same time it is making my anxious. Rather than savor the moment for what it is, I want to get past this period. My impatience is showing again and I constantly need to go back to the Patience Trust Prayer that is pasted on my refrigerator.

This week’s reflection comes from Fr. Ron Rolheiser. Fr. Rolheiser does an outstanding job of describing of how God is hopefully purifying me for what is to come. You can find the full reflection here but set forth below is an excerpt:

“[R]eal love and life can only be born when a long-suffering patience has created the correct space, the virginal womb, within which the sublime can be born. Perhaps a couple of metaphors can help us understand this.

John of the Cross, in trying to explicate how a person comes to be enflamed in altruistic love, uses the image of a log bursting into flame in a fireplace. When a green log is placed in a fire, it doesn’t start to burn immediately. It first needs to be dried out. Thus, for a long time, it lies in the fire and sizzles, its greenness and dampness slowly drying out. Only when it reaches kindling temperature can it ignite and burst into flame. Speaking metaphorically, before a log can burst into flame, it needs to pass through a certain advent, a certain drying out, a period of frustration and yearning. So, too, the dynamics of how real love is born in our lives.  We can ignite into love only when we, selfish, green, damp logs, have sizzled sufficiently. And the fire that makes us sizzle is unfulfilled desire.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin offers a second metaphor here when he speaks of something he calls “the raising of our psychic temperature.” In a chemistry laboratory it’s possible to place two elements in the same test tube and not get fusion. The elements remain separate, refusing to unite.  It is only after they are heated to a higher temperature that they unite. We’re no different. Often it’s only when our psychic temperature is raised sufficiently that there’s fusion, that is, it’s only when unrequited longing has raised our psychic temperature sufficiently that we can move towards reconciliation and union. Simply put, sometimes we have to be brought to a high fever through frustration and pain before we are willing to let go of our selfishness and let ourselves be drawn into community.

Thomas Halik once commented that an atheist is simply another term for someone who doesn’t have enough patience with God. He’s right. God is never in a hurry, and for good reason. Messiahs can only be born inside a particular kind of womb, namely, one within which there’s enough patience and willingness to wait so as to let things happen on God’s terms, not ours.”

Read Full Reflection

 

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Becoming the Beloved

Originally posted on God In All Things:

believe you are the beloved“You are my beloved [Son]; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22, NABRE).

What more do we want than to hear these words? We all want to be loved. We all want to be received. We all want to please.

I think I have felt and been aware of this longing for love since I was young. As the youngest child in a family of four, I sought to set myself apart. Whether it was winning a cross-country race or performing a solo at the school choir concert, all I wanted was to be seen, to be loved, to be affirmed.

Still, this longing for love didn’t come into real focus until I began the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises a few years ago. The Spiritual Exercises begin with a reflection on God’s love for each of us as God’s beloved son or daughter. God loves us unconditionally…

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Both love and truth are vital

Originally posted on Perichoresis:

A man dressed as a city gentleman walks across a tightrope in London's financial district

Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it.

God’s saving love in Christ, however,
is marked by both radical truthfulness
about who we are and yet also radical,
unconditional commitment to us.

The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace.

–Timothy Keller

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