God seems to have created things that continue to create and recreate themselves from the inside out. A fully incarnate God creates through evolution. (Sunday)
The Christ Mystery is still “groaning in one great act of giving birth . . . as we ourselves groan inwardly, waiting for our bodies to be set free” (see Romans 8:22-25). (Monday)
God is more and more trying to move the human race to the next stage of consciousness beyond the rational, technological, dominating worldview . . . recognizing the truth that there is only one self ultimately and this is God manifesting in us. —Thomas Keating (Tuesday)
Evolutionary thinking is actually contemplative thinking. It agrees to both knowing and not knowing, at the same time. (Wednesday)
To share in the divine life I must accept the vocation of consciously living in this self-creating universe. —Beatrice Bruteau (Thursday)
If being the image of God is at the heart of evolution in Christ, then the spiritual life is essential to Christian evolution. . . . Change is not what happens outside us; rather, change must first take root within us. —Ilia Delio (Friday)
Practice: Evolving the Contemplative Tradition
Living School alumna Teresa Pasquale Mateus rightly observes that the contemplative tradition needs to evolve. When Western Christianity revived contemplation in the 1970s, it did so primarily through the lens of white, upper-middle class, celibate men. Contemplation became synonymous with solitude and silence. Yet there are many, many ways to enter into non-dual consciousness and presence with God, self, and others. The contemplative tradition should reflect the diversity of the divine image. Teresa shares why this change is so important:
There are so many . . . people deeply yearning for what the contemplative path has to offer—but often there is a great divide between the prayer circles and the activists, the people of faith in communities of color and the contemplative retreats. The spaces seem remote and inaccessible to many who need them the most: those suffering from poverty and homelessness; those on the frontline of protests and marches for justice; those who sit in non-contemplative church contexts. . . . Further, members of each group carry practices from their own traditions and cultures that could serve the current contemplative containers—rituals of healing from street protests, mantras of lament and hope from those in the margins, and prayers and songs from African and indigenous cultures. . . .
For people existing in the margins—who desperately need contemplative wisdom—a path of contemplation without action . . . doesn’t have meaning. Because their struggles are for survival, for themselves, their loved ones, and their communities, these struggles cannot be set aside in pursuit of an individual spiritual journey. The journey is inherently communal. . . . It necessitates action, but desperately seeks contemplation. The current contemplative container was not built for them and cannot contain their hurts, their actions, their needs, their identities.
When the container is too small for the contents, it must expand. It must evolve. . . . God’s great love story with us calls us into discomfort—the gateway to evolution. For the majority culture, this call is to be in the margins, alongside marginalized persons, and learn what is needed to authentically walk beside them in their suffering. It calls for the discomfort of being in spaces where the mystical path may not look like your own. . . . It calls for the discomfort of hearing God’s voice through the woman of color, the queer teen, the under-heard and under-seen . . . and to reorient perspectives and actions according to the lessons taught through deep listening. . . . For people of color, like myself, and others in the margins (women, LGBTQI, and beyond), it is also a time to let our voices rise and join this conversation as vital partners in the unfolding of this new evolution in the collective soul of contemplative faith. In the process, together, we co-create the contemplative evolution and the mystical revolution. . . . In a world in pain, we are in the crescendo of birthing ourselves for this place and time. Only together can we push through to the next phase of our spiritual evolution.
Teresa Pasquale Mateus, “Mystic Love, Unbound: A Reclaimed, Reframed, and Evolving Love Story between God and the World,” “Evolutionary Thinking,” Oneing, vol. 4, no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2016), 48-51.
For Further Study:
Beatrice Bruteau, God’s Ecstasy: The Creation of a Self-Creating World (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 1997)
Ilia Delio, Christ in Evolution (Orbis Books: 2008)
Richard Rohr, Teresa Pasquale Mateus, and other authors, “Evolutionary Thinking,” Oneing, vol. 4, no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2016)
Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Jossey-Bass: 2011)