For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance, a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
Happy Independence Day!!
It has been a while since I have updated the website, since other projects have taken their time, especially a research project around the beautiful prayer form of Taize’, but the birth of our country seems good place to resume regular postings, especially since there is also a new birthing emphasis with Mystical Ventures. Last year, Pope Francis released his encyclical letter, Laudato Si,
which called all peoples to begin to work together to take care of our Common Home, this planet. It received widespread acclaim and acceptance, and struck a chord for many, no matter what religion or philosophy the many may have embraced. It is about stewardship. We are all dependent on one another and all of us are dependent on our loving Creator, who sustains our every breath, and who gave us this Common Home to enjoy and nurture. The principles behind Mystical Ventures are very similar to Pope Francis’ directives: to live a sustainable life while taking care of the earth and putting more back into the earth than what we took:
Grounded in the Roman Catholic mystical tradition and the conviction that the earth sustains us in multiple ways, Mystical Ventures (MV) hopes to connect the dots for many peoples of varied interests and demonstrate how religious faith empowers us to understand our ecological environment. Mystical prayer connects with the food we eat, the animals that sustain us, the books we read, the cycles and sounds of nature and stewardship of the earth alongside our individual vocations and care for the poor.
We will continue to share our lives of living that sustainable life through gardening, cooking, preserving produce, animal husbandry and land management, ecological practices, adult faith formation and prayer. Today, more than ever, prayer is required. Laudato Si will be available by link on the website and we will begin to make explicit connections between Laudato Si (LS), or what Pope Francis is calling us to do and the sustainable lifestyle at MV. To begin, perhaps, we should all step back and consider repentance. What have we done to this beautiful Garden of Eden that was once gifted to us? In the early paragraphs of LS, Francis refers to his predecessor’s words, those of Pope Benedict XVI, who with paternal concern urged us to realize that creation is harmed “where we ourselves have the final word, where everything is simply our property and we use it for ourselves alone. The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any higher instance than ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves.” (LS, 6)
The opening words of our Constitution read:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our Prosperity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.
Just in those opening lines, we hear a call to unity (not factions), to Justice (not injustice), to Tranquility (or peace), to common needs, and to Blessings. David Brooks wrote a great text last year, entitled: The Road to Character (New York: Random House, 2015) in which he gave his readers several stories of men and women in this country who gave up their own agendas for someone else’s or for some larger purpose than themselves. That is what is needed as we move forward to caring for our planet or our Common Home. If we truly love this country, then we must be willing to sacrifice for her.
There is no love without sacrifice. As we celebrate the 4th this year, let us all be mindful of that call. May we do what we can to ensure that those spacious skies, those amber waves of grain, those purple mountain majesties and alabaster cities gleaming are here for our children and our grandchildren.
From one year to the next . . .
As we continue to enjoy turkey sandwiches, turkey casseroles, and turkey soup these days after Thanksgiving, this is one of those years when Thanksgiving is put away and Advent is brought out all the same weekend. Our Advent wreath will be put out tomorrow evening on our dining room table and stockings will be dug out of storage to make sure they are hung on the mantle before December 6th, the feast of St. Nicholas. We savor the beginning of a new Cycle and a New Year by gradually introducing Christmas in our home, putting up the Christmas tree just days before Christmas. This Advent time is the time for reflecting and waiting and anticipation. We pause to think about what we learned this past year, what we lost, and what we gained and what may lie ahead. An appreciation for family roots was gained by our trip to Ireland, England and Wales this past summer, where we met distant cousins and family members. I was given the opportunity to pause long enough to enjoy the beautiful Jesuit retreat house in St. Asaph, Wales for eight days of that trip. We felt a deep loss this fall when our favorite and last “house” dog, Joey, our English Setter, had to be put down about six weeks ago, but more recently, we have welcomed a new member to our family in the canine department, a 15-month old Irish Setter named Maverick. His formal name is more true to his character though: Organized Chaos! The New Year will soon be beginning and we do not know where it will take us. Soon, the holiday baking and shopping will commence, and the Christmas choir concerts and shows will unfold. Bill filled so many Thanksgiving baskets with our local St. Vincent de Paul that he lost count, and the chairman has told him to expect the same as Christmas nears. The need is so great for those among us who do not have enough food.
2016 may be a year of surprises, and certainly a year of the unknown, but for now, we pause to give thanks and continue to wonder at the beauty of the earth, and the love of our God, who loved us so much that he gave the world his only begotten son!