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Entries in God (4)


Weekly Pause &  Ponder

Nothing paralyzes our lives like the attitude that things can never change.  We need to remind ourselves that God can change things.  Outlook determines outcome.  If we see only the problems, we will be defeated; but if we see the possibilities in the problems, we can have victory. 

- Warren Wiersbe



Recently, I’ve reached the ten-year milestone of ministering to the sick and dying in one of Canada’s largest hospitals, and I might be tempted to say, ‘I have seen it all.’  On many a day, that includes the good, the bad and the ugly.  At times, sadly, it is more of the bad than the good. Thankfully, on the many days when the good by far outweighs the bad and the ugly, it is easy to find God present amid the suffering and pain.  On the fewer more difficult days, it is much harder. 

Today was one of those days of mixed blessings.  A bit of everything made up the fabric of my day.  Homeward bound, my mind dwelling on nothing other than answering the call of nature before leaving the hospital, I pushed open the door to a washroom.  Much to my surprise, with arms outstretched, there sat a Cabbage Patch doll, sans clothes, on the window ledge. Despite its blue eyes, it looked more like a troll than a doll.  Don’t ask me why, but this forlorn looking imp inspired me to recall what Jesuits encourage us to do, “find God in all things.”  Why, I wondered.  Why, here of all places, in a public washroom, did a Cabbage Patch doll prompt me to think of this Jesuit maxim?   Jesuits teach that God can be found in everyone, in every place and in every-thing. Even in a child’s doll left behind in a washroom?  How could I possibly find God in this wee troll-like creature?  If God gives life and being and existence to everything, finding God in all things is just a matter of opening our eyes.  In this case, it may seem a bit of a stretch. Since subtlety tends to be God’s métier, I took a picture of the lonesome looking doll, wondering how God might be present in this odd encounter. 

As I drove home, I reflected on my encounter with this butt-naked Cabbage Patch doll, surely much loved by the little girl here at the hospital, who found comfort in cuddling her doll.  We all know about the pain of loss, of being lost ourselves. I could well imagine the mother comforting her child upset about losing her cuddly friend. I said a little prayer for this unknown child, and for all who are dealing with the loss of someone precious.  Grateful to God for using this doll to remind me of God’s presence everywhere, in everything, I prayed for the grace to remember that though lost we are never alone. We are always in God’s presence, for wherever we are, there is God.

- Sr. Magdalena Vogt, cps


Good Friday’s Reflection

Good Friday invites us to set aside our regular routines to enter a sacred time of quietness and reflection. Today beckons us to delve deeper into the depths of the unfathomable Paschal Mystery, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We are invited to see its sacred cycle inherent in the very pattern of our lives within our personal ups and downs. Our prayer seeks to draws us reverently into this mystery. The events of the Passion are an integrated segment of a whole: part of the unfolding mystery of God’s design. Thoughts can easily go awry if we too narrowly try to find the meaning of Jesus’ death apart from his ongoing incarnation and resurrection.

I propose that one might consider the writing style of Matthew, Mark and Luke akin to reporters of the daily news. Whereas, John’s approach more closely resembles the writing style of a documentary writer who wishes to convey to his audience a central message.

Sandra Schneider describes John’s central message in this manner:

“In the fourth gospel, events are not put forth in terms of sacrifice or retribution but in terms of self-gift: God so loved his own in the world that he laid down his life for them. Jesus’ self-gift was an act of friendship: “no longer do I call you servants…you I have called friends.” John’s gospel’s trilogy of –life, light, and love- captures [this] entire dynamic.”

In God’s unfolding design the Word became flesh and lived among us. Jesus graciously took upon himself all that human life entailed. Faithfulness to his mission and message brought him face to face with opposing forces. Opposition strong enough to demand a death sentence with capital punishment meted out in accordance with the methods of the day.   

We should not be too myopic in our view of Jesus’ death on the cross but see it in the context of Jesus’ whole life. Let us rather treasure the image of the crucified Jesus not as one defined moment, but as a sacrament of Jesus’ total life among us, Jesus’ fidelity to his mission without limiting the cost, and our example of a life of total self-gift.

Nancy Wales, CSJ



God and the Evolutionary World

Recently I had the opportunity to experience the Stratford, Ontario production of "Fiddler on the Roof." Teyve’s questionings “One time you pull out a prop and where does it stop?" reminds me of the huge change that is happening in our understanding of the universe, ourselves in that universe, and God. As these understandings change, we are challenged to align ourselves to look at life through a new lens. In embracing this evolving universe as revealed by science, it stands to reason that our theology of God is undergoing vast changes. We are no longer dealing with a static entity removed from our life experiences, but rather with a creative loving force that chose to manifest himself in the person of Jesus. Gone then is our preconceived notion of a God in the sky who orders all things rightly to be replaced by a God who is present in all of creation as all creation is present in God. (Panentheism is not pantheism)

Our oneness in God takes on unimaginable proportions when we put it into this perspective of God's insatiable desire to connect with us.

Joan Chittister in her interview with Michael Dowd "God and the Evolutionary World"  (transcript of audio in "Evolutionary Catholics" series) states that good theology is not so much now of giving pat answers but of asking questions.

If it is the nature of nature to change, then who is God now? What does my image of God have to do with how I live my life? What if I am no longer relating to a harsh judgmental God but one who continues to evolve in relationship to all of creation? What if my kind of God is now the one who wants fullness of life for me, for creation and not one who seeks to control the universe and rule in fear?

"The traditional notion of Creation was that everything on Earth had been created separately, uniquely, individually discretely.  Evolution says Creation emerges; it didn't come all finished." (Joan Chittister's interview).

This begs the question "Is creation still emerging?"

In an evolutionary theology, free will is key and we have a responsibility to be co-creators with God. In summary, Joan Chittister states." What I come out with at the end of evolutionary theology is growth versus perfectionism—a sense of ongoing creation instead of faith, participation in God's life, and God supports. God doesn't decide. God supports and stands by as we grow.....evolution is both the promise and possibility. It promises that we will keep on growing right up to the measure of the fullness of the spirit of God.  And my possibility is that I can participate. I can become a better self. I can participate in making a better world, and together we can all grow into God."

And so the answer to Teyve's question, "where does it stop when you pull out a prop," is, from an evolutionary lens, "The props are replaced by new and life-giving questions into which we are invited to live."



Copyright 2013. Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada.