Yesterday we were gifted with a poem on the cosmic love that birthed us and our Earth by Rafael Jesús González.
Speaking of love, let us listen to Archbishop (now Saint) Oscar Romero of El Salvador, who gave his life fighting for social and economic and ecological justice. Therefore for love.
Romero knew that his work on behalf of the poor was making him enemies in high places and that his life was in danger. In response, he gave this instruction:
You can tell the people that if they proceed in killing me, that I forgive and bless those who do it. Hopefully, they will realize that they are wasting their time. A bishop will die, but the church of God, which is the people, will never perish.
Notice how he defines “church” as people—not as buildings or hierarchy, rules and laws.
The church would betray its own love for God and its fidelity to the gospel if it stopped being a defender of the rights of the poor, or a humanizer of every legitimate struggle to achieve a more just society . . . that prepares the way for the true reign of God in history.
Notice how “fidelity to the gospel” is love defending the rights of the poor, thus bringing about a new era of God in history.
When the church hears the cry of the oppressed it cannot but denounce the social structures that give rise to and perpetuate the misery from which the cry arises.
Romero foresaw his own murder, for this speech was given shortly before he was gunned down while celebrating the liturgy. Around the same time, he wrote the American president begging him to cease providing money for the Salvadorian military, which was making war on its citizens. Romero stood for those with very little voice.
In understanding the church “as the people,” more than as structure or hierarchy, he was echoing Hildegard of Bingen who also described the church as lay people and not the hierarchy as such.
The Second Vatican Council also tried to understand “church” as “the people of God” and not as structures and those who manage them.
On the other hand, it seems that all humans are God’s people. There are Jewish people and Buddhist people and Muslim and indigenous and atheist people. People of God everywhere.
And all beings are God’s people. As indigenous traditions remind us, there are tree people, cloud people, 4 legged, slithering, winged and finned people. People of God everywhere.
Creation is a family of all our relations, therefore all us people.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics, p. 265.
See also, Fox, Original Blessing.
And Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth.
Also see Fox, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: Mural honoring Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, martyr and “voice of the voiceless.” San Salvador, exterior of La Hospital Divina Providencia. Photographer unknown, posted to Twitter by BAMEAnglican.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you agree with Romero and Hildegard and Vatican II that the church is “the people.” What follows from that? Do you agree that all beings are “the people of God”? What follows from that?
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
Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality
Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology): the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.
“Original Blessing makes available to the Christian world and to the human community a radical cure for all dark and derogatory views of the natural world wherever these may have originated.” –Thomas Berry, author, The Dream of the Earth; The Great Work; co-author, The Universe Story
Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth
Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.
Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen
An introduction to the life and work of Hildegard of Bingen, Illuminations reveals the life and teachings of one of the greatest female artists and intellectuals of the Western Mystical Tradition. At the age of 42, she began to have visions; these were captured as 36 illuminations–24 of which are recorded in this book along with her commentaries on them.
“If one person deserves credit for the great Hildegard renaissance in our time, it is Matthew Fox.” – Dr Mary Ford-Grabowsky, author of Sacred Voices.