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.
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.
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:
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?
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.