Some Challenges of Holy Week, Passover and Ramadan, 2022

We find ourselves living through a pandemic–not just of a virus but of lies and hatred, patriarchy and violence, wars and threats of nuclear war, attempts to replace democracy with authoritarianism.  There is much to drive us to the deepest regions of our religions to find the energy to be renewed and empowered in times of distress.

“We can hardly pass the raindrops without being wet, much less the blood drops of innocent victims even if we close our eyes… because our conscience will always remind us!” The Eighth Sin Witnesses – The Blind Indifference – Peace For Ukraine ! Image by Daniel Arrhakis (2022) on Flickr

Religious Feast Days and Seasons can expand our souls and ground them in times of pandemics of many kinds.  Ramadan in Islam and Passover in Judaism and Holy Week in Christianity are such deep places that we can visit each year to become agents of hope for others.  Such remembrances are meant to grow and expand our souls, hopefully.

Ramadan calls us to fast and to let go and in doing so reminds us that we can cleanse our hearts and minds and bodies by doing so.  By letting go of food during the day, we are more ready for the joy and conviviality to be had in a group meal in the evening.  Fasting, among other things, reminds us not to take food for granted.  It also reminds us to become more aware of those who suffer hunger daily.

Passover speaks to us of our agency and empowerment in throwing off Pharaohs that appear in history all too frequently and that no one is condemned to be slaves forever. Liberation is a kind of redemption and the time is now. It reminds us of hope and our capacity to make a difference as we journey together in solidarity led by a God of freedom, not a God of control and tyranny.

“Interfaith Outing.” Photo by Maryamhasan on Wikimedia Commons.

Holy Week holds multiple messages for us. “Palm Sunday,” reminds us that popularity is often short-lived, that a “hero” on Sunday may become a victim on Friday when Empire triumphs and Envy asserts its powerful poison and feeds a mass sickness that calls forth hatred, lying and war itself.  Those for whom power is their god can often poison the well of praise out of fear of losing their power.

It follows that we all need to be on guard against projections whether they be positive (Palm Sunday) or negative (Good Friday).  We need a center that is grounded and deep enough not to be seduced by either.  

We might call this conscience; or integrity; or our capacity for being emptied.   Betrayal happens.  

To be continued


See Matthew Fox, Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality, pp. 132-152.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Light in the desert. Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

How do Ramadan, Passover and Palm Sunday speak to you at this time in your life and in our planet’s life and Ukraine’s existence?


Recommended Reading

Matthew Fox: Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality
Selected with an Introduction by Charles Burack

To encapsulate the life and work of Matthew Fox would be a daunting task for any save his colleague Dr. Charles Burack, who had the full cooperation of his subject. Fox has devoted 50 years to developing and teaching the tradition of Creation Spirituality and in doing so has reinvented forms of education and worship.  His more than 40 books, translated into 78 languages, are inclusive of today’s science and world spiritual traditions and have awakened millions to the much neglected earth-based mystical tradition of the West. Essential Writings begins by exploring the influences on Fox’s life and spirituality, then presents selections from all Fox’s major works in 10 sections.
“The critical insights, the creative connections, the centrality of Matthew Fox’s writings and teaching are second to none for the radical renewal of Christianity.” ~~ Richard Rohr, OFM.


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14 thoughts on “Some Challenges of Holy Week, Passover and Ramadan, 2022”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today you ask in our Queries for Contemplation: “How do Ramadan, Passover and Palm Sunday speak to you at this time in your life and in our planet’s life and Ukraine’s existence?” You answer this question for us in my estimate, when you say, “Religious Feast Days and Seasons can expand our souls and ground them in times of pandemics of many kinds. Ramadan in Islam and Passover in Judaism and Holy Week in Christianity are such deep places that we can visit each year to become agents of hope for others.” I have participated in seders, and have tried and failed to fast during lent the way Muslims fast during Ramadan, and now I am trying to re-experience the meaning and joy of holy week. I think being a minister has jaded me a bit in view of these holy days, in that I had to do all of these things every year, for over thirty years–the same thing over and over again. Oh, if I could only experience them like a child on Christmas or Easter morning !!! Oh, and the cover picture looks like the Hermit card in the tarot!

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    Jeanette Metler

    Thank you so much for the teachings within today’s DM, for they are indeed very deep and revelatory. What the different Holy Days remind us of… is the importance of humanity Not betraying one’s sacred connection of relationship and life-long companionship with the Divine essence and presence of God, and the spiritual reality of this… amidst both the positive and negative experiences of life.

    The Holy Days, help us to remember consciously, the importance of going within, of looking inside ourselves… of letting Spirit speak truth and wisdom to our conscience… that we might begin to really see… the unfolding, evolving and emerging ways we express and manifest both the negative and the positive, the good and the not so good… in our relationships with self, others and the all and the everything of creation.

    The Holy Days, help us to remember and connect with the Archetypes of both slavery and freedom. As Richard mentioned in his comment today, I too see the Archetype of the Hermit within the imagery in today’s DM. Whats also interesting is the Archetype of the High Priestess and the Tower Card, that are above and below the Hermit, in their Major Arcane placement within the Tarot, as well as the Strength card to the left and the Wheel of Fortune card to the right. These Archetypes, when engaged with, especially during these Holy Days, offers to guide us through the descent of the Holy good… in order to resurrect this from within… that we may overcome the power of death… which we are all experiencing collectively, through the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the climate crisis we find ourselves living in.

    Participating in the Holy Days and connecting with the benevolent Archetypal energies present in their essence and presence helps lead us in strength to liberation from the repetitive cycles of fear and all the not so good… to the infinite wheel of life, that can turn all of this fear into love, compassion and mercy, the Holy good… as we consciously traverse the chasim between the two.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, You write today, “Participating in the Holy Days and connecting with the benevolent Archetypal energies present in their essence and presence helps lead us in strength to liberation from the repetitive cycles of fear and all the not so good… ” With this I agree wholeheartedly. And just a few words on the Archetypes that you see in the tarot… Years ago I was talking with a Christian woman from Israel and the topic came up of the tarot. She said she would have nothing to do with them because they have the Devil card. I asked her if she had ever read the Bible. She said, “Of course.” I rep[lied that the tarot has only one Devil card but the Bible is filled with the Devil–Satan, Lucifer, the serpent, the Great Dragon. I also said that the tarot was not a creation of the occult but rather originated in Northern Italy in the 15th century, and in some churches in Northern Italy there are even windows and other paintings of tarot images in a few churches !

  3. Avatar

    The mystery of suffering, and faith in our Source~Creator of Divine Love & Wisdom, Justice, Resurrection, co-Creation on our spiritual journeys of our Eternal Souls….
    ?❤️?

  4. Avatar

    If I’m honest, I have to admit to a measure of anti-Semitism. To some extent, it comes from the idea that ‘We are the Chosen People and if you are not one of us, you are not chosen,’ which seems implicit in the framing, and to some extent in the practice, of Judaism. On another level, I see the whole Abrahamic tradition (all three branches) as totally steeped in patriarchy on mythic levels that totally deny the value of the feminine.

    Why did our Father, Yahweh, give Adam nipples? Such a step completely undermines the entire Patriarchal model. The conception of woman being ‘matter’ somehow and man being ‘spirit’ somehow, seems exactly inside out to me. Spirit comes into matter by way of the feminine being. The sperm comes to the egg from without. If not for the birth canal, human, or indeed mammalian, spirit would not be in this material realm. Moreover, the most intense focused channel of creativity for women is internal; whereas, the most intense focused channel of creativity for men is external – out there in the material world. We need to get real.

    Having said that, on the other hand there is the Jewish perspective on the validity of the individual life experience and responsibility, as opposed to the individual as cog in the societal machine. Each individual Hebrew person was/is seen as a manifestation of God. That’s a model that we should all share.

    I see this view as meshing intimately with the whole democratic thrust of Greek society that surrounded the Hebrews from the time of Alexander onward. In their interplay, these two patriarchal societies have laid the foundation for what we call Western civilization. It’s just taken a few thousand years to resuscitate the value of the divine feminine.

    The war in Ukraine then, becomes the clash between the collective ‘fascist’, so to speak, government of Russia (and China, too really) versus the individualist governments of the West. Not to say that the West has always avoided fascism. We did have Hitler, Mussolini, the Vietnam War, the Iraq War, Afghanistan, etc etc etc..

    Matthew’s emphasis on the escape from Egypt in the context of the war in Ukraine leads to a contemporary framing of the same issues that the Hebrews were dealing with in ancient Egypt. I’m thankful way that he universalizes the situation moving us from a narrative of Moses and Pharaoh, to the narrative of individual human beings and communities in relation to every kind of institution. That was an eye-opener for me.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Dana, You make some interesting points in your comment today. I would like to highlight a couple of things that I feel are important. First of all you say: “I see the whole Abrahamic tradition (all three branches) as totally steeped in patriarchy on mythic levels that totally deny the value of the feminine.” On this point I am in total agreement. Then you write: “Why did our Father, Yahweh, give Adam nipples? Such a step completely undermines the entire Patriarchal model.” Last night I was doing a class on feminine spirituality and in it I pointed out the fact that all humans begin as female in the womb, and if it wasn’t for a burst of male hormones we would all be women. And so while Simone de Beauvoir spoke of women as the “Second Sex” in reality they were the first sex…

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    Thank you for the reminder that Jesus was a Jewish rabbi and stood and taught in the traditions; the great commandment is from the Hebrew Scriptures. He quoted them and sometimes gave them a new twist. But neither he nor Paul was anything but Jewish.
    These holy days and practices from the three Abrahamic traditions remind us of our humanity and divinity and what we are called upon to do in the world. From the letting go of fasting or of old ideas, we learn to empty ourselves to be more available to God, in my opinion.
    As Matthew points out, Jews suffered wholesale crucifixions also. They have been relentlessly maligned, tortured and killed by Christians throughout the centuries. I recommend reading “Unsettled: an Anthropology of the Jews” by Melvin Konner for the extent of the horrible, gruesome persecutions down through time. Jews have suffered more loss than most.
    Palm Sunday has always made me sadder in a way than any other of the “holy” days because it reminds me of the fickleness of the mob, the betrayals that were soon to come, not only by Judas, but also by Peter and the other disciples, who in the end could not even keep Jesus company in his final hours of life. And our own betrayals and human tendencies to go with the “mob”. In the ordeal of the Ukrainians I see Christ crucified, as I see in every part of creation that is being attacked and damaged and killed–including Mother Earth.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Sue, Thank you for your comment, and reminding us of the fact that Christians have persecuted Jews since the time of Christ–driven them from one place to another by Pogroms where Christians burned down their settlements. To the words that have been often applied to the Jews that they were “Christ-killers,” I say first Jesus and his apostles were all Jews, and Jesus lived a Jewish life. Even the Catholic Church at Vatican II said that we should still regard Jews as God’s Chosen people–the ones to whom God made an everlasting covenant, and who are as much children of God as we are…

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