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Center for Action and Contemplation

Open to Resurrection

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Science: Week 2

Open to Resurrection
Sunday, November 8, 2015

According to Sister Ilia Delio, Sir Isaac Newton’s (1643-1727) mechanistic view of the then-known universe was based on law and order. There was certainty, predictability, and a hierarchy of control. God was separate and above the world. For centuries, we thought the world was what scientists call a “closed system.” God put everything in motion and then left the world to run on its own. A closed system is self-contained and self-maintained. It has little complexity, little exchange with the environment, and proceeds in the direction of increasing disorder. [1]

“Disorder” may seem to fit with the way things are going today. Pope Francis writes in Laudato Si’ about the problems of pollution, climate change, loss of biodiversity, shortages of clean water, wars, the breakdown of society, and global inequality. However, all of this is due largely to the impact of humans and our ignorance of who we are and how creation works. Our world is actually an open system, sensitive to its environment, which explains why we humans have had such a deleterious effect upon it. But this open system also means we can have a positive influence.

In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis writes:

For all our limitations, gestures of generosity, solidarity and care cannot but well up within us, since we were made for love. [2]

Given the complexity of the ecological crisis and its multiple causes, we need to realize that the solutions will not emerge from just one way of interpreting and transforming reality. Respect must also be shown for the various cultural riches of different peoples, their art and poetry, their interior life and spirituality. If we are truly concerned to develop an ecology capable of remedying the damage we have done, no branch of the sciences and no form of wisdom can be left out, and that includes religion and the language particular to it. [3, emphasis mine]

The rich Christian symbol of resurrection may be especially relevant here. Resurrection is a universal pattern of the undoing of death. The three Abrahamic religions, each in their own way, define God as the one “who brings the dead to life and calls into being what does not exist” (Romans 4:17). The pattern of incarnation, death, and resurrection revealed in “the Christ Mystery” was true long before Jesus of Nazareth, from the very birth and death of the stars to the entire circle of life on this planet. [4] At a recent CAC conference, Ilia Delio said, “The resurrection recapitulates the whole evolutionary emergent creation as a forward movement to become something new, a new heaven and a new earth. What took place in Christ is intended for the whole cosmos, union and transformation in the divine embrace of love!” [5] Delio also says, “The resurrection of Jesus undergirds the fact that life creates the universe, not the other way round. Every act of physical death is an act of new life in the universe. The resurrection of Jesus speaks to us of this new life.” [6]

Joanna Macy, an expert in systems theory and deep ecology, writes, “Dangers to their survival move living systems to evolve. When feedback tells them—and continues to tell them—that their old forms and behaviors have become dysfunctional, they respond by changing.” [7] Will we hear the cry of the earth and her inhabitants and respond by changing? Pope Francis again: “Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it.” [8] Will we hear the cry of our own deepest heart and respond in ways to help bring about resurrection, which is always a radical change from the engines of death?

Gateway to Silence:
Co-creating wholeness

[1] Ilia Delio explored these concepts at The Francis Factor: How Saint Francis and Pope Francis are changing the world (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2015), MP4 download.

[2] Pope Francis, Laudato Si’,, 58.

[3] Ibid., 45-46.

[4] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013), 77.

[5] Ilia Delio, unpublished CONSPIRE 2014 conference.

[6] Delio, The Francis Factor.

[7] Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown, Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World (New Society Publishers: 1998), 44.

[8] Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 18.

Image Credit: Hildegard von Bingen, “The Universe” (detail), Scivias Codex, c. 1165.
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