History is not calling for another religious order subject to a particular religious bureaucracy but a spiritual order dedicated to implementing authentic values in our souls and institutions and birthing new ones while networking with other movements committed to defending Mother Earth. 

Saint Brigid of Kildare (451-525), abbess and founder of several monasteries of nuns. Stained glass window (1934) in Our Lady and St. Non’s Chapel, St. David’s, Wales. Photo by Wolfgang Sauber on Wikimedia Commons.

Consider how the desert fathers rebelled against the church’s alliance with the Empire in the fourth century; how St Benedict (480-550) launched an Order amidst the darkness of the post-Roman empire times in the Sixth Century; how Saints Francis (1181-1226) and Dominic (1170-1221) responded to the critical religious crisis of their day when the monastic orders were too fat, lazy and comfortable to break with the privileges accorded them from the feudal system in which they were entangled.

Consider too the Beguines who rose up in the thirteenth and fourteenth century to establish an alternative life style and for women outside the institutions of both marriage and monasticism.  Consider how in the sixteenth century the Protestant reformers as well as St. Ignatius attempted to respond to a corrupt papacy in Rome.

Our times too call for a revision and renewal of the spiritual inheritance of our ancestors.

Father Bede Griffiths envisioned and Brother Wayne Teasdale inspires the modern movement toward lay monastic communities. Photo by Newmonastic on Wikimedia Commons

In our time all the world spiritual traditions need to wake up and rise up. The young, who are the recipients of a dwindling healthy and diverse planet and who now constitute over 50% of the world’s population, deserve nothing less.

Many young people today feel called to lead and live generous lives in birthing a new spiritual vision. Many are not just seeking a job or profession but responding to a call. This call may be coming from future generations or from ancestors or from Gaia herself or from all of these sources. But it is deep.

OSE borrows the ancient practice, found in the East as well as in the West, of taking a vow and creating a community based on this shared vow. A vow is a sacred promise that allows one to focus one’s work and life style around a value that one holds dear. The value that OCS is holding up as dear and that many today can identify with is simply this:

Rory McEntee and Adam Bucko (far left and far right), co-authored The New Monasticism: Manifesto for Contemplative Living. Seen with contributors Father Thomas Keating and Netanel Miles-Yepez. Photo by Newmonastic on Wikimedia Commons.

To defend Mother Earth, to work and live as generously and wisely as we can on behalf of Mother Earth and her Creatures so that future generations might live and thrive and take in her beauty and her health. To be the best mystics (lovers) and prophets (warriors) we can be on behalf of Mother Earth. Such a pledge is not in conflict with the prospering of our own species but a requisite for it.

It is beholden to no one religious tradition but inviting to all (or none).  Bring what wisdom you have from your ancestors to the table.  All wisdom is welcome.  Earth is waiting.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, “Order of the Sacred Earth” in Order of the Sacred Earth, pp. 4-6.

Banner image: Fra Angelico, “Scenes from the Lives of the Desert Fathers” (1420) Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest. On Wikimedia Commons.

Queries for Contemplation

Consider how the Orders mentioned above, including the Protestant churches, were all a response to tired and privileged religious structures.  An Order can bring light and hope in dark religious times.  Does this hold true for our times also?

Recommended Reading

Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action
By Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jen Listug

In the midst of global fire, earthquake and flood – as species are going extinct every day and national and global economies totter – the planet doesn’t need another church or religion. What it needs is a new Order, grounded in the Wisdom traditions of both East and West, including science and indigenous. An Order of the Sacred Earth united in one sacred vow: “I promise to be the best lover and defender of the Earth that I can be.”
Co-authored by Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jennifer Berit Listug, with a forward by David Korten, this collection of essays by 21 spiritual visionaries including Brian Swimme, Mirabai Starr, Theodore Richards, and Kristal Parks marks the founding of the diverse and inclusive Order of the Sacred Earth, a community now evolving around the world.
“The Order of the Sacred Earth not only calls us home to our true nature as Earth, but also offers us invaluable guidance and company on the way.”  ~~ Joanna Macy, environmental activist and author of Active Hope.

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6 thoughts on “OSE: A Call to Wake Up and Rise Up!”

  1. Avatar

    I was delighted to sign the Pledge, but am not sure whether to invite my Faith Network to do the same- signing a pledge is a no-brainer- but joining a new spiritual Order is quite another.

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Susan,
      In some ways a spiritual community of souls who regard the earth as sacred already exists and you are already part of it, perhaps also your Faith Network. Matt, Jen, and Skylar are just inviting those people to come forward and declare themselves and offer each other the power of community, visibility, and shared purpose. It is not hierarchical, it is an emergent order, creating its practices according to the sensibilities of the local culture from which it arises. There is no dogma, no rules, no specified rituals, and no authority figure to judge you and keep you in line.

      I hope you do offer your Faith Network the opportunity to become part of the Order of the Sacred Earth. They could pledge as a pod that addresses the sacredness of Earth together in some way that suits your community, or they can pledge as individuals and keep in touch through the opportunities offered on the website: http://www.orderofthesacredearth.org

      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

      1. Avatar

        Thanks Gail,
        I’m pondering ways to connect my Network. Earth Day is 4/22 and at my UU community I’m designing a Service led by our lay Green Sanctuary committee. Christopher Volpe, the artist who CO-led a recent retreat with Ellen Kennedy, is designing something to help with our ritual- we’re wanting to link the Declaration of Climate Emergency with the idea of Emergence- of our higher consciousness and spiritual awakening, with new language. We’re calling the Climate Emergency an “Emergence Seed”.
        Thanks Matthew for your inspiration!

  2. Avatar

    The creation of a new Spiritual Order sounds like something I’ve been waiting for for a long time. I’m not sure where and how to sign up but feel I’ve already been living this way ever since I left a community of nuns almost 40 years ago to find a new way of serving and loving as best as I could my fellow human beings, as well as animals and mother nature. I live alone, and at age 88 I’ve given up my car (an amazingly freeing experience!) and for the year that I’ve been mostly dependent on the love and kindness of friends and family to get where I need to go, I’ve only had to call a taxi once. So, yes, I would love to be part of this wonderful new Order. I’d like to contribute in any way I can. Please let me know how to do this? Thank you! Love and blessings to all.

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Vivian,
      It seems that you have all the ingredients to become part of the Order of the Sacred Earth. As an interested individual, you could proceed two ways. You could ask a small group of people to help you design a ritual during which you would make your pledge. Or you could invite people you know who also cherish Earth and invite them to become a pod with you. You could determine how you would honor and serve Earth’s sacredness together and create a ritual for your pledging. In addition to inviting others to support you or join you, you would be strengthening OSE and inviting people to own and act on their reverence for Mother Earth.

      Either way, please contact OSE through their website and let them know what you are doing.

      Of course, you can do it on your own, create your own ritual and say the pledge. But its so much more powerful when done in community.

      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

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