Recently, I attended a parish mission at St. Anne’s Church in Peterborough, Ontario (Jan 27-29th, 2013) and I thought I would post my notes online for the benefit of others.
Our guest speaker was Sister Barbara Fiand who has been a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur for 32 years. Sr. Barbara is a proud Canadian who now lives and teaches in Cincinnati, OH. A Catholic scholar for many years, Sr. Barbara speaks at conferences and gives lectures all over the U.S., Canada, and abroad. She has authored 10 books on Spirituality.
Opening Prayer given by Sr. Barbara:
Please uncross your legs, unlock your arms, and bow your heads slightly.
Breathe in deeply and slowly. Now, exhale slowly and know that God is holy. Breathe in deeply and slowly. Now, exhale slowly and know that the World is holy. Breathe in deeply and slowly. Now, exhale slowly and know that You are holy.
Speaking about God
- Everything and anything that has ever been said about God (or the mystery of God) is purely METAPHOR. Words/Symbols are not adequate to describe God.
- In a metaphor, there is always a YES and NO component. For example, when we say that God is our Father (Abba), this has a YES and NO component. YES he is our father in the sense that he is loving, caring, and wise like a father, but NO in another sense because he did not impregnate our mothers so that we could be born (our earthly fathers did that!).
- We can only speak of God out of our limitedness (we are finite, God is infinite).
- Metaphors are rooted in a particular culture and time period. i.e. Jesus as the good shepherd – that symbol born of the time period/culture when it was written.
- Since metaphors about God are tied to a particular culture and time period, the people of today may not understand their meaning. People quickly become alienated because they can’t relate to the ‘old world’ idea of God (i.e. young people of today).
Beginnings of Christianity
- Christianity was originally a Jewish Sect (was not called ‘Christianity’ in the beginning, that didn’t come until much later). There was a split with Judaism when the followers of Christ did not want to fight with other Jewish freedom fighters (they were pacifists).
- Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire under Emperor Constantine (who was Greek). He wanted Christianity to be clearly defined (i.e. define what ‘Trinity’ is) and content oriented (credo).
- Clearly define the Trinity: The Trinity helps us look at God in 3 different ways, but yet all are the same. There is God the Father who created the world, then there is God who came to earth to dwell among us as the person of Jesus Christ, and then there is God who is still with us today as the person of the Holy Spirit.
- Christianity was born into a particular world view, that of the Greeks and Romans (called Greco-Roman). The Greco-Roman world view was a DUALISTIC view of the world. For example: how can there be permanence amidst change? How can a picture of me as a baby show the same person that stands before you as an adult? My physical body has changed, but some things have not.
Greco-Roman World View
- Greco-Roman view divided the world into: a) Change – i.e. matter, suffering, death, is fickle, and things that are: b) Permanance – God, marriage, things of the spirit
- Christianity was born into this particular world view and it has known no other – until present day
- When 20th Century scientists (i.e. Albert Einstein) discovered that the world was not dualistic, they were in shock.
- Males vs. Females. Females became associated with the earth (latin: Mater. Mater is similar to ‘matter’). The woman gave her matter/body to make a baby. Males became associated with the mind and spirit. This is largely why women have been suppressed in our culture over the past 2000 years. This is changing.
- The Greco-Roman world view is now fading away, but many people/organizations (like the Church) today still have one foot firmly planted in this old way of thinking. The Church must change to stay relevant in today’s world.
- Life and the world is dynamic – nothing is static.
- Thought is ENERGY. We can affect the world around us with our thoughts.
- Scientists have discovered that individual cells have consciousness.
- Nothing is permanent except change.
- The static or fixed world simply does not exist.
- To force anything to be static/unchanging is to cause it to eventually become irrelevant/die. If the Church does not adapt to its surroundings and change according to the new world view, it will soon become irrelevant.
- Since we are all connected and thought is energy, then prayer/long distance healing is a very real phenomenon.
- God is not an old man up ‘there’ in the sky, but rather he is everywhere
- Some people have found it possible to travel great distances (long distance travel) in their mind – they can transcend space AND time.
- We are not isolated beings. We must start thinking in terms of how we are all connected.
- The whole is contained in each part/individual. The Church is contained in each and every one of us.
Space and Time
- All concepts of space and time are reduced to the here and now.
- All reality affects space and time – both backwards and forwards in time.
- Whatever each one of us does affects everyone else directly and instantly (we are all connected).
- we belong to each other, both ancestors and heirs.
- Quantum Physics – interfacing with ‘God’ – referred to as the ‘Field.’
- The Field holds everything – past, present, future.
- In prayer, we can pray backwards and forwards.
The Energy of Love
- The primary energy in the universe is LOVE.
- Primary message from God is that you are loved and cherished unconditionally.
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin discovered that atoms seek each other out to make something more complex. The ‘urge’ to seek each other out is love.
- Unity from simple to complex. Complexity is more beautiful than singularity.
- Atoms->Molecules->Cells->Organisms — at some point an organism receives consciousness
- Humans have the ability to choose love
- We are partners in the love story that is creation.
Who is God?
- The source of everything that exists is LOVE, and the source of love is GOD.
- God is the energy that flows through each one of us.
- We are created with strong desire to seek God out.
- God says “you are free” and we can do what we want (free will), but ultimately we will return to him.
Who Am I?
- We are creation that has come to consciousness.
- We are the universe that has come to reflect upon itself – therefore, we can proclaim the Word of God.
- We are all born very GOOD – emphasis should be on ‘Original Goodness’, not Original Sin. Pope declared that there is no ‘Limbo’ – babies go to Heaven.
- Morphic Resonance – we learn something through osmosis. Therefore, children born into an atmosphere of sin learn it by osmosis.
- In Baptism, the community commits to provide an atmosphere of love for the child.
How can we be saved?
- Simply, we are saved by walking in the footsteps of Jesus. Emphasis is on walking – we must be active participants.
- When the community gathers at Eucharist Jesus gives himself to as wine and bread.
- Live the Gospel!
- Question: Is the world (or your hometown) a better place because we are Christians?
- Live the vision!
- The Field, by Lynn McTaggard. http://www.lynnemctaggart.com/the-books
- My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor. http://drjilltaylor.comook.html
- Proof of Heaven, by Eban Alexander. http://www.lifebeyonddeath.net/
- Awe Filled Wonder: The Interface of Science and Spirituality, by Barbara Fiand. http://othello.alma.edu/~lopez_isnard/BFiand05/Books.htm
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Teilhard_de_Chardin
- Sr. Barbara Fiand. http://othello.alma.edu/~lopez_isnard/BFiand05/index.html