Père Chenu held a strong cosmic sense. Nature and humanity, nature and spirit were one for him. This is the meaning of a creation-based spirituality after all. Non-dualism extends to acknowledging our interdependence and oneness with nature and the universe.
Here is how Chenu put it:
The history of humankind, the history of the spirit is, by ontological necessity, tied up with the history of nature. For humanity is, in the full sense of the word, a microcosm.
We are truly a “microcosm” of the macrocosm, a small mirror of the greater cosmos. Our very bodiliness is the basis for our sense of community and self.
Today’s scientific understanding of creation clearly links the matter that makes us up as humans with the matter—and history of matter—of the universe. We are literally the stuff of stars and supernovas and galaxies.
What follows from that? Chenu tells us that
the corporality of the human being is the ontological foundation of his sociability. . . . History is by definition social. And the history of the human race meshes with the history of nature.
History is also relative, relationship oriented. It is not a series of absolutes.
Social individuality has no meaning with reference to a pure spirit. Mankind is a people: every individual is at the service of the species.
Each person “is at the service of the species.” that is, we do not exist just as individuals but as those who serve one another in communities and serve the species as a whole. The community we serve includes the whole community of nature and Earth and evolution itself.
Chenu insists that any history involving humans is a history of nature. For that matter, even the sacred history of humans is the story of an incarnation and not the history of angelic creatures! Even our religions are a “story of an incarnation,” not a description of disembodied spirit.
Chenu celebrates both a “continuous Incarnation” and “continuous creation.” Both creation and incarnation are still going on. Spirit is very much still at work in history and evolution and in our creativity and in our work and the values we choose to put into our work.
And in the resistance we assert against forces of injustice and coldness of heart.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics, p. 329.
And M. D. Chenu, “Body and Body Politic in the Creation Spirituality of Thomas Aquinas,” in Matthew Fox, ed., Western Spirituality: Historical Roots, Ecumenical Routes, pp. 200-212.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: “Remember Her Name – Behnaz Afshari – Solidarity with Iranian Women and Workers. Behnaz Afshari (photo held by the sitting woman), was 300th on the National Council of Resistance list of martyrs of the nationwide uprising. The date of her martyrdom was given as 26 October 2022. Her family were allowed to see only her face.” Photo by Alisdare Hickson on Flickr.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you also recognize an ongoing or “continuous” Incarnation and Creation? What follows from that? And Spirit at work in history and evolution, the Cosmos and Earth?
Christian Mystics: 365 Readings & Meditations
As Matthew Fox notes, when an aging Albert Einstein was asked if he had any regrets, he replied, “I wish I had read more of the mystics earlier in my life.” The 365 writings in Christian Mystics represent a wide-ranging sampling of these readings for modern-day seekers of all faiths — or no faith. The visionaries quoted range from Julian of Norwich to Martin Luther King, Jr., from Thomas Merton to Dorothee Soelle and Thomas Berry.
“Our world is in crisis, and we need road maps that can ground us I wisdom, inspire us to action, and help us gather our talents in service of compassion and justice. This revolutionary book does just that. Matthew Fox takes some of the most profound spiritual teachings of the West and translates them into practical daily mediations. Study and practice these teachings. Take what’s in this book and teach it to the youth because the new generation cannot afford to suffer the spirit and ethical illiteracy of the past.” — Adam Bucko, spiritual activist and co-founder of the Reciprocity Foundation for Homeless Youth
In this book, Fox gathers scholars from various cultures and traditions such as Helen Kenik, Jon Sobrino, Nicolas Berdyaev, Rosemary Ruether, M. D. Chenu, Mary Jose Hobday, Ronald Miller, Monika Hellwig, James Kenney, Justin O’Brien and others to approach creation spirituality from many traditions and many angles.
“An exciting and important book…a pleasant alternative to the oppressive burden of the fall/redemption tradition.” ~ New Review of Books and Religion