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Center for Action and Contemplation

Dynamic Love

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Christ in Evolution

Dynamic Love
Thursday, March 14, 2019

Sister Ilia Delio, a Franciscan professor and theologian, offers a vibrant vision for evolution in her book The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love:

Christianity is a religion of evolution, a consciousness of divine love-empowered reality. In the past Christianity meant a flight from the world. In an evolutionary universe, however, it is a flight from separateness. Even Albert Einstein, who did not believe in a personal God, saw the intricate relatedness that exists:

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. One experiences oneself . . . as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of one’s consciousness. . . . Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. [1]

. . . God is a beggar of love seeking to be love at the heart of this evolutionary creation; yet God cannot enter into our world without us. Our challenge today is to stay the course of love in a world that resists love, fears love, and rejects the cost of love. God continues to push through evolutionary life to emerge in a new, more illuminative way as God, but the forces of resistance are great. The challenge, therefore, is not to argue or defend evolution but to drench ourselves in it, to go inward and meet, in silence and solitude, a power no human power can vanquish. This is divine love, always dynamic and ever new, love that empowers us to go beyond ourselves by imagining and creating a world worthy of love.

We must suffer through to something higher, something more unified, more conscious, more being in love. Hope must be born over and over again, for where there is love, there is hope. Christian life is birthing love into greater unity; it is our contribution to a universe in evolution. We point the way to something more than ourselves, something up ahead that we are now participating in, where heaven and earth will be renewed (Revelation 21:1). Teilhard saw that evolution is larger than the scope of the human person alone. Beyond the level of collective consciousness, he posited a mega-synthesis, a convergence of interplanetary or even intergalactic consciousness. [2]

We must widen our vision to a christification of the galaxies, a new unity of all cosmic life. To do so we must fix our eyes on the future, on forging new relationships of love that include the earth, all peoples, all religions, all planets and all galaxies. We need to reimagine ourselves in love, realizing that on the evolutionary time line, Christianity was born this morning and is just waking up to the newness of life. In Jesus divine love bursts forth with hopes and dreams for a new world. This new world is within our reach if we awaken to the power of love within us as the power to create anew.

[1] Albert Einstein, Condolence letter to Norman Salit (March 4, 1950). Reprinted in The New York Times, March 29, 1972,

[2] See Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Future of Man, trans. Norman Denny (Harper and Row: 1964), 311.

Ilia Delio, The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love (Orbis Books: 2013), 197-198.

Image credit: Gua Tewet Tree of Life (detail), cave painting, Borneo, Indonesia.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: If the dynamics of the universe from the beginning shaped the course of the heavens, lighted the sun, and formed the earth, if this same dynamism brought forth the continents and seas and atmosphere, if it awakened life in the primordial cell and then brought into being the unnumbered variety of living beings, and finally brought us into being and guided us safely through the turbulent centuries, there is reason to believe that this same guiding process is precisely what has awakened in us our present understanding of ourselves and our relation to this stupendous process. —Thomas Berry (1914-2009)
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