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Center for Action and Contemplation
A Benevolent Universe
A Benevolent Universe

Foundational Trust

Monday, December 12, 2022

Father Richard shares how faith, hope, and love allow our participation in the benevolent nature of the universe:

From the very beginning, faith, hope, and love are planted deep within our nature—indeed they are our very nature as children of God (Romans 5:1–5, 8:14–17). Yet we have to awaken, allow, and advance this core identity by saying a conscious yes to it and drawing upon it as a reliable and Absolute Source.

Our “yes” to such implanted faith, hope, and love plays a crucial role in the divine equation. Human freedom matters. We matter. We have to choose to trust reality and even our physicality, which is finally to trust ourselves. How can people who do not trust themselves know how to trust anyone or anything at all? Trust, like love, is of one piece.

In the practical order, we find our Original Goodness, the image of God that we are, when we can discover and own the faith, hope, and love deeply planted within us:

A trust in inner coherence itself. “It all means something!” (Faith)
A trust that this coherence is positive and going somewhere good. (Hope)
A trust that this coherence includes me and even defines me. (Love)

This is the soul’s foundation. That we are capable of such trust and surrender is the objective basis for human goodness and holiness. It almost needs to be chosen again day by day, lest we slide toward cynicism, victim playing and making, or self-pity. No philosophy or government, no law or reason, can fully promise or offer us this attitude, but the gospel can and does. Healthy religion shares a compelling and attractive foundation for human goodness and dignity and shows us ways to build on that benevolent foundation.

Being created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27) gives everyone an equal and inherent dignity. However, in every age and culture, we have seen regressions toward racism, sexism, homophobia, militarism, ableism, and classism. This pattern tells me that unless we see dignity as being given universally, objectively, and from the beginning by God, we humans will constantly think it is up to us to decide. But our tragic history demonstrates that one group cannot be trusted to portion out worthiness and dignity to another. Our criteria tend to be self-referential and thus highly prejudiced, and the powerless and disadvantaged always lose out.

For the planet and for all living beings to move forward, we can rely on nothing less than an inherent original goodness and a universally shared dignity. Only then can we build, because the foundation is strong, and is itself good. Surely this is what Jesus meant when he told us to “dig and dig deep, and build your house on rock” (Luke 6:48). When we start with a positive vision, a resounding yes, we are more likely to proceed with generosity and hope, and we have a much greater chance of ending with an even bigger yes, which we would call “resurrection.”


Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope for, and Believe (New York: Convergent, 2019, 2021), 66, 67, 68.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Benjamin Yazza, Untitled – Sandia Mountains (detail), 2022, photograph, Albuquerque, used with permission. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge photo.

Image Inspiration: when i began photographing birds during the pandemic it was meant to fuel a creative need. as i continued it began to fuel a life need, a missing connection to nature. i not only felt a need to see different birds but to see the change in nature around me. a connection to my own heritage – wondering again and again if my ancestors roamed the same fields, came across the same animals or took meditation in the same plots. —Benjamin Yazza (photographer), Albuquerque, New Mexico

Story from Our Community:

Nine years ago, I was staying with my elderly mother in the hospital overnight, as I had done many times before. I had recently finished reading Therese’s “The Story of a Soul.” As I wearily got off my hospital cot every fifteen minutes to reassure my mother and prevent her from climbing out of bed, I told myself do this little thing for her with love. When I lay down again I suddenly felt the greatest sense of peace. I felt that I was among the stars outside. I knew that this wonderful sense of peace would eventually pass, so tried to dwell in the moment while it lasted. I was filled with gratitude, calm, and well-being. I attribute this mystical experience to the love of Therese. —Barbara M.

Share your own story with us.

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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