I suspect that for years people will be sharing stories about experiences they had during the pandemic. I know I hope I don’t forget some of the experiences I had. One I heard about recently sums up the kind of concern and encouragement that some people express toward one another during a pandemic
Advent has long been one of my favorite times of the year. One reason I find it so special is the emphasis in the Church’s liturgy on the virtue of hope. Every advent I become more convinced that I need to trust more in God’s love. At one point in my life, actually it was when I was a seminarian, my confessor had me read every book on the virtue of hope that I could find. What a great experience that was for me!
Authentic Catholicism, I believe, is a truly great religion and those of us who are Catholic should be grateful for God’s countless gifts that come to us through the Church. The Church should always be reforming, but that should not cause Catholics to forget the special graces and blessings that come through the Church.
If there is one thought that has been going through my mind during the last six weeks as I have been writing this series, it is the very important vocation each person has to participate in God’s sanctification of the world. We do not redeem people. Jesus did that through his life, death, and resurrection and is now lovingly present to everyone. However, we can share in Christ’s redemptive presence.
There is a statement in Father Pierre Teilhard’s spiritual masterpiece “The Divine Milieu: An Essay on the Interior Life” (Harper & Brothers, 1960) that seems to me to be especially important today. Teilhard is writing about the contribution that those who are often described as “unbelievers” might be making to the sanctification of the world. I believe that the Holy Spirit is operative in every person’s life and that it is quite possible that someone who does not believe in the Holy Spirit might be engaged in actions that amount to cooperating with the Spirit’s presence.
John Haught’s vision of evolution calls us to deepen our view of evolution and to see it as a drama that has been happening for billions of years. I find this view of evolution both awesome and exciting.
Reading Haught’s book I had a strange experience. For both philosophers and theologians, and indeed for everyone I have ever heard discuss or write about the topic, the mystery of why an all-loving God, indeed a God Who is Love, allows so much suffering seems to be too great a mystery for any human mind to comprehend completely.
In his insightful and provocative book “Making Sense of Evolution: Darwin, God, and the Drama of Life” (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, pp. 163) John Haught argues that if evolution is studied over the billions of years that it has been taking place, what can be discerned is that there is a narrative or story to evolution.
I am amazed that even today many people believe that science and theology contradict one another. I am also amazed at the number of people who believe that to know some reality in the best and most profound way is to know it scientifically. To know a reality scientifically is wonderful but it is also wonderful to know a reality philosophically, theologically, or poetically.
For much of my life I thought I lived in a kind of a “two level universe.” There was the supernatural world and there was the natural world. They were separate. For me the supernatural world included the Eucharist and the other sacraments, sanctifying and actual grace, heaven, hell, purgatory, the bible and other “spiritual books.”