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Center for Action and Contemplation

From the Bottom Up: Summary: Weekly Summary

Saturday, December 30, 2017

From the Bottom Up: Summary

Summary: Sunday, December 24-Friday, December 29, 2017

Rather than coming from those in power at the top, the most effective and lasting change happens at the grass-roots level, led by those who are on the “edge of the inside” and are not dependent upon the status quo. (Sunday)

Both Jesus and Francis of Assisi did not let the old get in the way of the new, but like all religious geniuses, revealed what the old was saying all along. (Monday)

“Religion is at its best when it leads us forward, when it guides us on our spiritual growth as individuals and in our cultural evolution as a species.” —Brian McLaren (Tuesday)

“This religious and political transformation is what some hope will be a ‘Great Turning’ toward a global community based on shared human connection, dedicated to the care of our planet, committed to justice and equality, that seeks to raise hundreds of millions from poverty, violence, and oppression.” —Diana Butler Bass (Wednesday)

If we are going to rebuild Christianity “from the bottom up,” what is the foundation upon which we’re building? Love is our foundation and our destiny. It is where we come from and where we’re headed. (Thursday)

The word change normally refers to new beginnings. But transformation more often happens not when something new begins but when something old falls apart. (Friday)


Practice: Saying Yes

Faith in God is not just faith to believe in spiritual ideas. It’s to have confidence in Love itself. It’s to have confidence in reality itself: at its core, reality is okay. God is in it; God is revealed in everything. Faith is about learning to say yes to the moment right in front of you. Only after you say your yes do you recognize that Christ is here, in this person, in this event. God is in all things; this universal Presence is available everywhere.

Most of us learned to say no without the deeper joy of yes. We were trained to put up with all the “dying” and just take it on the chin. (When I entered the novitiate, we still had whips for self-flagellation in our cells.) Saying no to the false self does not necessarily please God or please anybody, and surely not you. There is too much resentment and self-pity involved in this kind of false dying. There is a good dying and there is a bad dying. Good dying is unto something bigger and better; bad dying profits nobody. It is too much no and not enough yes. You must hold out for yes! Don’t be against anything unless you are much more for something else that is better. “I want you to be you, all of you, your best you!” is what true lovers say to one another, not “I do not like this about you,” or “Why don’t you change that?”

God tries to first create a joyous yes inside you, far more than any kind of no. Then you have become God’s full work of art, and for you, love is now stronger than death, and Christ is surely risen in you. Love and life have become the same thing. Just saying no is resentful dieting, whereas finding your deepest yes, and eating from that table, is a spiritual banquet. You see, death and no are the same thing. Love and yes are even more the same thing.

The True Self does what it really loves and therefore loves whatever it does. I am sure that is what Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) meant by his oft-misunderstood line, “Follow your bliss.” [1]

Gateway to Silence:
You make all things new.

[1] Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers, The Power of Myth, ed. Betty Sue Flowers (Anchor Books: 1991, ©1988), 113. See especially chapter 4, “Sacrifice and Bliss.”

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “He Looks Just Like Everybody Else!” Homily given at Holy Family Catholic Church, Albuquerque, NM, on April 10, 2016,; and
Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013), 181-183.

For Further Study:
Richard Rohr, Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer (Paulist Press: 2014)
Richard Rohr with John Feister, Hope Against Darkness: The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety (Franciscan Media: 2002)
Richard Rohr, Near Occasions of Grace (Orbis Books: 1993)

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