“Set in a landscape of great natural beauty, our deliberations were enriched by our Franciscan communion with creation. We move forward with the challenge to deepen our understanding of Cosmic spirituality and its implications for our life, our prayer and our mission.“
Future Direction. General Chapter 2016
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Since I have left Rome and returned to the United States, several people have encouraged me to do some writing. It was many years ago that I sent out “Contemplative Stance” a bi-monthly reflection aid. Perhaps it is timely now to pick up the pen again for another booklet/newsletter with a slant that is both cosmic and contemplative. I have never really, deeply, questioned what put it into Francis of Assisi’s head to call the sun, “Brother”, and the moon, ‘Sister.” What led him to consider as siblings, the air and water and fire and all created things? Somehow with an amazing, ingrained intuition, Francis grasped the marvelous TRUTH of all creation, that, in fact, we are all one family. Do you not somehow feel very much “at home” outdoors under a setting sun, sitting on a beach watching the waves splash on the shore or hearing a dove coo in the early morning? The ambience is comfortable, is it not? Family-like!
During this sabbatical year, after spending ten weeks in Wicklow, Ireland at the Dominican Cosmic Spirituality Program, it seems now so crystal clear that Francis saw right through to the beginning, the interconnectedness of all matter. “Christ is the first born of all creatures (in God’s family). He is before all else that is and in him everything continues in being” (Col 1:17 -18). “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was in God’s presence and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Thomas of Aquinas wrote, “God brought things into being in order that God’s goodness might be communicated to creatures and be represented by them; and because God’s goodness could not be represented by one creature alone, God produced many and diverse creatures...” For me that Wicklow Course was wonderful, an eye- opener to be sure, and I would love to share it with you as best I can through these little ramblings. I acknowledge with gratitude all those who gave the input as so much of this newsletter is based on my Wicklow notes. So, let us begin this journey. This Journal will have 4 or 5 parts to it: A theological reflection, a bit of scientific wonder, our earth’s cry of pain, an example from a mystical writer and some suggestions for action here and there. We shall see what unfolds. I welcome any comments or reflections you might like to share.
Jeanette Gaudet, mfic
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By Ilia Delio OSF
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God was moving over the face of the water. And God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.”
A Franciscan View of Creation
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It’s such a gift to have this time because we spend so much of our day busy and distracted. We’re so busy focusing on our goals and challenges that we rarely look around and appreciate how incredible the Universe is.
When we become aware of the beauty and immensity of the universe, we experience enormous benefits, like raising feelings of humility, gratitude, and inspiration. It helps cast our lives in a deeper light, putting our day-to-day stresses in larger perspective. In our sessions together, I often talk about how living mindlessly takes us away from the moment right in front of us. Today, I’d like to talk about the cosmic profundity of that present moment - any moment - every moment. Including this one. And I don’t mean what’s happening within - our thoughts and emotions. That’s all tremendously important. What I’m talking about is what’s all around us.
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We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.
Earth, Our Home
Humanity is part of a vast evolving universe. Earth, our home, is alive with a unique community of life. The forces of nature make existence a demanding and uncertain adventure, but Earth has provided the conditions essential to life's evolution. The resilience of the community of life and the well-being of humanity depend upon preserving a healthy biosphere with all its ecological systems, a rich variety of plants and animals, fertile soils, pure waters, and clean air. The global environment with its finite resources is a common concern of all peoples. The protection of Earth's vitality, diversity, and beauty is a sacred trust.
The Global Situation
The dominant patterns of production and consumption are causing environmental devastation, the depletion of resources, and a massive extinction of species. Communities are being undermined. The benefits of development are not shared equitably and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Injustice, poverty, ignorance, and violent conflict are widespread and the cause of great suffering. An unprecedented rise in human population has overburdened ecological and social systems. The foundations of global security are threatened. These trends are perilous—but not inevitable.
The Challenges Ahead
The choice is ours: form a global partnership to care for Earth and one another or risk the destruction of ourselves and the diversity of life. Fundamental changes are needed in our values, institutions, and ways of living. We must realize that when basic needs have been met, human development is primarily about being more, not having more. We have the knowledge and technology to provide for all and to reduce our impacts on the environment. The emergence of a global civil society is creating new opportunities to build a democratic and humane world. Our environmental, economic, political, social, and spiritual challenges are interconnected, and together we can forge inclusive solutions.
To realize these aspirations, we must decide to live with a sense of universal responsibility, identifying ourselves with the whole Earth community as well as our local communities. We are at once citizens of different nations and of one world in which the local and global are linked. Everyone shares responsibility for the present and future well-being of the human family and the larger living world. The spirit of human solidarity and kinship with all life is strengthened when we live with reverence for the mystery of being, gratitude for the gift of life, and humility regarding the human place in nature.
We urgently need a shared vision of basic values to provide an ethical foundation for the emerging world community. Therefore, together in hope we affirm the following interdependent principles for a sustainable way of life as a common standard by which the conduct of all individuals, organizations, businesses, governments, and transnational institutions is to be guided and assessed.
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by Zachary Hayes OFM
To know nature more deeply is to sense its mystery, its depth, and its value. It is to know as an image of the sacred: a sacrament of the divine. The cosmos truly speaks to us of God.
I shall draw out a number of the principal images and metaphors used by the Franciscan St. Bonaventure di Fidanza which appeal largely to the imagination. It is through these that Bonaventure describes the universe and its relation to the divine – remarkably concrete images which are related to his understanding of reality and the ways in which it can be known or understood. These metaphors help Bonaventure to interpret the meaning of the universe.