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Center for Action and Contemplation
Summary: Nothing Stands Alone
Summary: Nothing Stands Alone

A Capacity for Communion

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Catholic spirituality author Judy Cannato writes that our freedom, gifts, and interdependence bring us to a holy obligation:

In Jesus’ final discourse he found it necessary to speak to his disciples about unity, “That they may be one, as we are one” (John 17:11, 22). To add emphasis Jesus prays these words twice. Indeed, they are the heart of his mission and message. Jesus’ radical unity with the Holy One defined his life, and his prayer indicates that he wants that same radical unity to define those who follow. . . .

Connectedness is fundamental to our reality. No matter which sphere of life we observe, from the physical to the spiritual, we are connected to others. . . . Many of the social and ecological problems that confront us today stem from our delusion that we are separate from, better, or more significant than, other members of creation—from other groups of people we encounter to the air we breathe. Our lack of openness to all may very well mean our demise.

If we are to expand our hearts to include all creation we need to embrace our capacity for communion. . . . Relationship is something that all life requires, even inorganic life. Our vitality depends upon the connections we establish and the communion we share. [1]

Minister and faith leader Jen Bailey writes to encourage the “misfits,” those on society’s edges, to see themselves as essential to a healthy, sustaining, and interdependent future:

All around us things are shifting, systems are collapsing, and institutions are failing. This should not surprise us. Around the world, elders across cultures and peoples were predicting this time would come. It is a time of great uncovering in which Mother Earth and Father Sky are pushing us into a divine reckoning about what it means to be in right relationship with one another and all sentient beings in the twenty-first century and beyond. It is clear to me that the actions we take now will have deep and irreversible consequences for the generations to come.

The good news is that this time is made for misfits.

When you are at the center of a circle, it is impossible to see what is at the perimeter—if you are even aware that there is a perimeter. As misfits who were pushed to the edges and in-between places, we are able to see what is on the horizon and collectively discern what is needed to meet the challenges ahead. We are called to be the gardeners who will compost and tend to the soil upon which future generations will sow seeds that will one day blossom. . . .

The great news is we do not have to take on these challenges alone. In the words of the great prayer … [by Kenneth Untener]: “We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.” [2] [3]


[1] Judy Cannato, Radical Amazement: Contemplative Lessons from Black Holes, Supernovas, and Other Wonders of the Universe (Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2006), 136, 138.

[2] Prayer written by Kenneth Untener (bishop of Saginaw, Michigan, 1980–2004) for Cardinal John Dearden in 1979. See Scott Wright, Oscar Romero and the Communion of Saints: A Biography (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2009), 153–154.

[3] Jennifer Bailey, To My Beloveds: Letters on Faith, Race, Loss, and Radical Hope (St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2021), 68, 69.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Benjamin Yazza, Untitled 05 (detail), United States, photograph, used with permission. Benjamin Yazza, Untitled 12 (detail), United States, photograph, used with permission. NASA, Galaxy NGC 4013 (detail), 2020, United States, photograph, public domain. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.

Image inspiration: Infinitesimal. Massive. Incomprehensibly expansive. It is all connected: everything is a part of the whole, seen or unseen. Nothing stands alone.

Story from Our Community:

In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for oneness in God opens our hearts to be one with others, to be free to love others even as we are loved. For those used to being on top to step down into equality and those who have been pressed down to step up into fullness. The hurting world set right, the broken mended, the wounded healed, the empty filled, and creation renewed and at peace in oneness. All will know the freedom that comes in being one with the one, perfectly present in the presence, made whole in the whole, at peace in love, atrest in the arms of God together. —Clayton C.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.


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