An Evolving Faith
Week Twenty-Two Summary and Practice
Sunday, May 30—Friday, June 4, 2021
Anybody who has paid attention to their inner life of prayer or read history books surely recognizes that life and love are always cumulative, growing, and going somewhere that is always new and always more.
The tipping point of faith is the threshold of spiritual energy, where what we believe becomes what we do. When that power is released, there is no stopping it, for love is a force that cannot be contained. —Steven Charleston
An evolutionary faith understands that nothing is static. The universe unfolds, our understanding of God evolves and deepens, and our moral development surely evolves as well.
Doubt need not be the death of faith. It can be, instead, the birth of a new kind of faith, a faith beyond beliefs, a faith that expresses itself in love, a deepening and expanding faith that can save your life and save the world. —Brian McLaren
We could acknowledge the unraveling, breaking, and cracking of our nation and churches as a bearer of truth and even a gift. —Stephanie Spellers
Evolution requires trust in the process of life itself. There is a power at the heart of life that is divine and lovable. In a sense we are challenged to lean into life’s changing patterns and attend to the new patterns that are emerging in our midst. —Ilia Delio
An Evolutionary Examen
Louis M. Savary was a Jesuit for thirty years and has been studying, writing, and teaching on his fellow Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin for over fifty years. He has a knack for making Teilhard’s writings, which are almost exclusively about evolution, accessible. Here he introduces a version of the Ignatian Examen that emphasizes our participation with God’s desire for evolution by increasing our awareness of goodness, gratitude, possibility, and love.
Throughout his life Teilhard remained an optimist, despite the rejection he suffered from his religious order and from the official church because of his evolutionary ideas. In his prayer, instead of putting his attention on his failures and disappointments, he focused much more on praise, reverence, and gratitude when he related to God.
In recent years, psychologists have discovered a basic law of psychological and spiritual life. We might call it the first law of spiritual energy. It is simply this: Energy follows attention. In other words, wherever you focus your attention is where the energy of your body, mind, and spirit goes.
In terms of this first law of spiritual energy, Teilhard preferred to focus, with God’s grace, on his own resilience, his capacity to adapt and to restore his enthusiasm for his work and relationships. . . . If he was blocked from pursuing one avenue, he found another way. . . .
Teilhard’s life suggests a nightly review of your day focusing on what went right instead of what went wrong. If you focus on giving and receiving love, your thinking will change for the better. If you focus on thinking good thoughts, your heart will grow more loving. The heart and mind are always interacting in concert.
This process is known as the Thanksgiving Examen. . . .
1. To give thanks in general to God our Lord for the benefits received in your life, in others, and in the world today.
2. To ask for grace to recognize all those particular things that happened to you and others that you should personally be grateful for.
3. To take account of your day from the hour that you arose up to the present time, hour by hour, or period by period: first your good thoughts, ideas, and intentions; then your good words spoken and heard; and then good acts, your actions and those of others, small or large, that positively touched your life or the life of someone else. Record these in your journal.
4. To praise and thank God our Lord for all the opportunities you had to make a difference in the world today and to inspire you to recognize more and more such opportunities in the future.
5. To thank God for all God has done for you, and to ask yourself: What can I envision doing that would lead me to be even more deeply grateful? Close with the Our Father [or another prayer with deep significance for you].
Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.
Louis M. Savary, The New Spiritual Exercises: In the Spirit of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (Paulist Press: 2010), 49–50.