Thursday, March 26, 2015

In Australia's Leading Catholic Newspaper, a Helpful Introduction to the Sacred Presence in an Evolving Universe

Given my interest in evolutionary spirituality and my creation back in Minnesota of the workshop "Companions on a Sacred Journey," I was happy to see an op-ed on evolutionary spirituality in the most recent edition of the Australian publication The Catholic Leader.

Written by Br. John Venard, FMS for his regular column "Sacred Space," this op-ed doesn't actually use the term evolutionary spirituality. Venard does talk a lot, however, about "cosmology," which he describes as "the branch of astronomy concerned with the evolution and structure of the universe."

Venard notes that creation is an on-going process set in motion by God and that humans have a specific role to play in this process. That combination of cosmology and theology is, of course, a key component of evolutionary spirituality.

I have some issues with Venard's op-ed; the apparent contradiction that many struggle with of an all-powerful God versus an all-loving God is, for example, unacknowledged and unexplored. Ditto for the "specific role" that we as humans have to play in God's ongoing creation. That's all unfortunate. Still, other aspects of Venard's piece serve as a helpful introduction to evolutionary spirituality, even if the term itself is never uttered. Hopefully, such an articulation will be the focus of Venard's next "Sacred Space" column. Indeed, the title of his column lends itself beautifully to an ongoing exploration of evolutionary spirituality!

Following is an excerpt from Venard's op-ed from the March 15, 2015 issue of The Catholic Leader.

Cosmology is the branch of astronomy concerned with the evolution and structure of the universe.

Powerful telescopes and orbiting satellites have given scientists much more information for discovering the mystery of creation.

The universe consists mainly of galaxies and enormous systems of stars. There are millions of these and in them are found solar systems with assemblages of planets, satellites, milky ways, comets and meteorites.

[At a recent lecture on cosmology] we were shown a picture of one Milky Way and amongst the multitude of white specs was an arrow -- this is you. It was the tiniest of little specs and by reflecting on the size of our earth we could get a faint idea of the immensity of the universe. But more mind-boggling facts emerged as we got into the distances involved and measurements of light years (the distance light will travel in one year) had to be used.

When and how did creation originate?

Is the hypothesis of the "Big Bang" of 12 billion years ago the answer? It is only a theory but remembering Galileo, I am keeping an open mind on the matter.

Does this do away with God? Just the opposite.

It increases my faith because a God of complete goodness, wisdom and love, all-powerful and all-knowing, caused the "Big Bang." This set [God's] on-going creation in motion and now we are part of it with a specific role to play. Isn't this great news?

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Michael Morwood on the Divine Presence (Part I)
Michael Morwood on the Divine Presence (Part II)
Michael Morwood on the Divine Presence (Part III)
Prayer and the Experience of God in an Ever-Unfolding Universe
In the Garden of Spirituality – Ilia Delio
In the Garden of Spirituality – Beatrice Bruteau

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