Throughout this pandemic during which — on the time of this writing in late June — greater than 124,000 Individuals had died of COVID-19, seven College Sisters of Notre Dame met for a five-day retreat. We mirrored on the imaginative and prescient of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker, meditating on the connection of faith and evolution.
Spending time on the banks of the Mississippi, we let our bioregion “direct” us, honoring Native Individuals buried right here, awed by the 325 species of birds that make the Mississippi their main flyway, and praising our Creator for the beautiful fantastic thing about spring.
Among the many seven of us, all having been educated as lecturers, our ministries had developed to incorporate jail ministry, social work at a army base, administration of parishes, service on a Native American reservation, diocesan work, religious course, and repair in Nigeria, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Ghana, The Gambia and past.
As we concluded our time collectively, I used to be impressed by the members of our group in addition to by the visionaries we studied.
Our experiences included residing by AIDS and Ebola, and being evacuated in time of disaster. Residing with different cultures and religions, all of us had discovered from these with whom we lived, graced with items of spirituality, experiencing new methods of constructing group, celebrating, burying the lifeless, residing merely and far more. Difficult moments have been mirrored by those that needed to assume pastoral roles when a priest was unavailable or unwilling, residing with the fact of witchcraft, and experiencing discrimination as a result of we have been ladies.
This retreat was happening through the demonstrations that adopted the brutal homicide of George Floyd, one other unarmed African American: we heard the cries for systemic change, the protesting and rioting which have proven the face of desperation evident in financial disparity, insufficient well being care, and police brutality, particularly amongst individuals of colour in the US.
Add to this the announcement of thousands and thousands unemployed, immigrants denied civil rights, lack of management, and even a distinguished cardinal supporting a seeming white supremacist agenda of the president.
This nervousness shifted as we listened to Mary Evelyn Tucker’s Laudato Si’ Week 2020 presentation hosted by the World Catholic Local weather Motion in addition to her webinar for the College Sisters of Notre Dame for the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’. It felt as if the prism of our company lives as College Sisters of Notre Dame seen by an “evolutionary lens” offered one other option to view each our experiences of ministry in addition to our present scenario.
It known as me to replicate on my “Catholicism” in a brand new manner.
Listening to Mary Evelyn’s knowledge expressed within the “Journey of the Universe” video*, I acknowledged my longings and want for conversion, seeing myself as a part of the sumptuous communion of creation, studying to let go of domination and making selections that acknowledge the sacredness of all species, races and religions.
Typically throughout our sharing, we felt the “coincidence of opposites” the place two totally different concepts might each be true. The flexibility to dwell with ambiguity enabled us to be taught dialogic expertise that generally left us with course just for the subsequent step, letting go of a proper or mistaken mindset, open to the subsequent perception.
In considered one of our discussions somebody requested the query: “Do you assume Mary Evelyn identifies herself as Catholic?”
After I emailed her the query, her reply was encouraging for me.
“I’m a Teilhardian Catholic within the spirit of Laudato Si’,” she wrote.
Teilhard was a seeker whose scientific thoughts and mystical coronary heart introduced collectively the sacred actuality of matter, all energized by love. Regardless that Teilhard was silenced by the Catholic Church, his knowledge was included into the encyclical of his brother Jesuit, Pope Francis, “on Take care of Our Widespread House,” Laudato Si’.
Reflecting on the mysterious motion of evolution in our respective lives was trigger for gratitude as every of us shared our struggles to imagine in ourselves carrying on the “mission of Christ” in these difficult moments.
On the similar time we acknowledged how we’re a part of a Universe a lot larger than ourselves. Seeing the worldwide group and reflecting on the adjustments we have now seen within the final 50 years was a supply of awe and amazement.
I used to be reminded of 1 small instance of this evolutionary shift. It was solely 55 years in the past, Oct. twenty eighth, 1965, that Pope Paul VI signed the “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions,” Nostra Aetate. This doc of Vatican II handed by a vote of two,221 to 88.
Remembering my Catholic youth and early years as a sister, when it was “a sin” to enter a Protestant church, I noticed how the Spirit’s evolving concepts moved us towards a way forward for planetary group, letting us expertise all that “is true” on the earth’s religions. On the similar time, we see how a lot wants to alter.
Our retreat ended with a renewed expertise of Pentecost, Could 31. As 70 of us celebrated Eucharist in our chapel for the primary time in three months, sporting masks and doing social distancing, I wept with each disappointment and pleasure as we sang: “Veni Sancte Spiritu,” deeply conscious of a necessity for the Spirit to indicate us a option to “renew the face of the Earth,” and dwell with compassion. Maybe it is a new language the Holy Spirit is inviting us to be taught as we dwell into a brand new “Catholicism.”
I, too, hope to be a Teilhardian Catholic residing Laudato Si’ and praying with him that:
The day will come when, after harnessing area, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we will harness for God the energies of affection. And on that day, for the second time within the historical past of the world, we will have found hearth.
— from “The Evolution of Chastity,” in Towards the Future, 1936, XI, 86-87
* “The Journey of the Universe” movie is obtainable to observe on Vimeo (use password whowouldyoube619) and likewise on Coursera totally free. It’s for lease or sale on Amazon Prime.