Ilia Delio’s powerful vision of creation for the 21st century

Birth of a Dancing Star: My Journey from Cradle Catholic to Cyborg ChristianBirth of a Dancing Star: My Journey from Cradle Catholic to Cyborg Christian by Ilia Delio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve read a number of Ilia Delio’s books and this is great. It’s more from the heart than any of her previous books. She had a remarkable transformation in her life and beliefs and she does a great job of telling that story. I found this book easy to read and difficult to put down. She gave me insights into my own journey of the soul that I had not found elsewhere. She is a prophetic voice for our time. This book belongs with the classics like Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain.

The Pandemic Mirror – Omega Center

I’ve been reading Sister Ilia Delio’s Memoir, Birth of a Dancing Star,  the last few days and in looking at her community blog for Omega Center I came upon this article called, The Pandemic Mirror. It’s an invitation to think differently about our lives and especially in light of the Corona virus.  I encourage you to read this essay and to give some thought to living in the moment. As she says, “eternity dwells in every breath.”

Source: The Pandemic Mirror – Omega Center

A conversation with Ilia and Matthew

I came across this delightful discussion of Ilia Delio and Matthew Fox on the need for spirituality. I suppose I like it because it’s a lively discussion by two of my favorite authors. I had never heard of Matthew Fox until a few years ago when a local youth minister told me. I mentioned the conversation I had with the minister to one of my Allegany Franciscan friends who wholeheartedly endorsed my reading of Matthew Fox’s book, Original Blessing. In the book he debunks the concept of original sin. I had thought for many years that original sin made no sense at all. But it wasn’t until I read Matthew’s book that I had a chance to learn that it was essentially the invention of St. Augustine. Jews don’t believe in original sin and so the historic Jesus would not have either. I found this conversation today on Ilia Delio’s website. It’s delightful.

Internet Easter

This essay by Sister Ilio Delio, OSF resonates for me. We have entered a new age that has been thrust upon us. The cry of various religious leaders to forego social distancing to meet as we once did invites a further spread of the pandemic.  Last night my cousin asked if I had received communion while attending a celebration of the Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper which was broadcast on YouTube Live. Ilia invites us to envision an Internet Easter.

“I think internet religion may be a sign of a new religious consciousness on the horizon. It is not the same as the old religion; it can lack the warmth of the smells and bells and friendly neighbors squeezing their way into the pew. And yet, online I can attend different liturgies around the world, I can explore different religious traditions, I can hear prayers and participate in rituals I would never otherwise venture to discover. ” — Ilia Delio

Source: Internet Easter – Omega Center

The dynamic energy of transcendence

Without the dynamic energy of transcendence by which consciousness rises and relationships deepen, religion grows old and weary; it becomes rote, a mechanistic repetition of old ideas. To function out of an old cosmology with old ideas of matter and form, to think that God does not do new things, is to make an idol out of Jesus and to ignore the power of the Spirit.”

— Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology, Consciousness by Ilia Delio

Ilia Delio is my favorite modern theologian. She’s helped me to look at the deeper meanings of life and to better understand the writing of Teilhard de Chardin. Many people see God or the creator as immutable but that’s not my belief. As the universe continues to grow and unfold then the cosmos and the energy that surrounds us continues to grow and change too. What keeps everything in place? The creation story that is in the Book of Genesis is more allegory than reality. It was the best that an ancient mind could fathom. Now we know so much more about the cosmos.

Does the creative energy of the universe which we might call God not continue to grow and expand? I asked a Jewish friend of mine how he viewed the Bible. I wanted to know if he interpreted everything literally. He assured me that he didn’t but saw the stories as wisdom stories that needed to be interpreted in light of our present day.

God as he reveals himself to me through my experience is not the limiting God that some religious people seem to think. I believe that there are certain universal principles which govern the universe. Among them is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The golden rule applies in all cases in my experience. On the other hand the creative force of the universe is open to all people regardless of where they find themselves in the world. There is not one way of seeing God. There are many ways of seeing God. The disparate religious faiths are fingers pointing to the moon.

The universe is not an either/or proposition. It is nuanced and we’ve only scratched the surface. As St. Paul said, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

Invisible God

Just yesterday I was having a conversation with one of the summer interns at Mt. Irenaeus when I said to him that the God of the theologians was not God as I had experienced him. Too often I/we let theologians limit our concept of God. God becomes pigeon-holed and limited by what the God scholars say and speak. I don’t intend to demonize theologians, that’s not my mission. I’m grateful that theologians think and write. Today in my mail comes this gift from the Merton Institute and it expresses almost the same sentiment.

Just as we have a superficial, external mask which we put together with words and actions that do not fully represent all that is in us, so even believers deal with a God who is made up of words, feelings, reassuring slogans, and this is less the God of faith than the product of religious and social routines. Such a “God” can become a substitute for the truth of the invisible God of faith, and though this comforting image may seem real to us, he is really a kind of idol. His chief function is to protect us against a deep encounter with our true inner self and with the true God.

Thomas Merton. Love and Living. Naomi Burton Stone & Patrick Hart, editors (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jonvanovich, 1985): 42.

An expanding universe

Thomas Merton gives voice to a recurring thought of my own and that is the Word in a world where we understand more than when the words were first recorded.

I must get to know something of modern physics. Even though I am a monk, that is no reason for living in a Newtonian universe or, worse still, an Aristotelian one. The fact that the cosmos is not quite what St. Thomas and Dante imagined it to be has after all some importance. It does not invalidate St. Thomas or Dante or Catholic theology, but it ought to be understood and taken into account by a theologian. It is futile to try and live in an expanding universe with atomic fission an ever present possibility and try to think and act exclusively as if the cosmos were fixed in an immutable order centered upon man’s earth. Modern physics has its repercussions in the monastery and to be a monk one must take them into account, although that does nothing whatever to make one’s spirituality either simple or neat.

Thomas Merton. A Search for Solitude. Edited by Lawrence S. Cunningham (San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, 1996): 132

Merton and morality

It sometimes happens that the men who preach most vehemently about evil and the punishment of evil, so that they seem to have practically nothing else on their minds except sin, are really unconcious haters of other men. They think the world does not appreciate them, and this is their way of getting even.–Thomas Merton, Seeds of Contemplation.

This quote struck me once again tonight as I pondered the ramifications of the U.S. Senate’s recent vote to pass the Kyl-Lieberman amendment Continue reading “Merton and morality”