We are continuing our meditations on truth and action by sharing a talk I gave at the 18th anniversary of Sister Dorothy Stang’s martyrdom in the Amazon forest.
Père Chenu also talked about “reading the signs of our times”—a major phrase that made its way into several documents of Vatican II as well as into its very spirit.
Among the signs of our time is the Webb Telescope beaming back pictures of the earliest stars and galaxies of our home, the universe.
Is the awe being fed into our living rooms and computers from 13.7 billion years ago enough to wake our species up anew? Rabbi Heschel defines wonder as the “act in which the mind confronts the universe.” He informs us time and time again that “awe is the beginning of wisdom.”
Sr. Dorothy knew these things. She studied the signs of our times. She knew awe and wisdom and the delight that happens when our minds confront the universe and creation and the Sacred. This awareness kept her going, invigorated her, made her young again, nurtured her, and made her strong in the presence of evil.
The opposite of evil is not the good; the opposite of evil is the Sacred.
We challenge evil with a sense of the Sacred and the joy that follows from that expands the heart. Meister Eckhart says, “God is delighted to watch your soul enlarge.” From this expanded soul/heart courage is born. And joy.
Sr. Dorothy was a joyful person. And serious. And strong. And concerned. And caring. She drank deeply of the sacred in the forest and among the pastoral projects with the people she worked with, built schools with, stood with.
May she stand with us—and especially the young students here contemplating your vocations–as we continue the “good fight” that St. Paul speaks of. And may we engage in making the “good trouble” that she dared make, and that John Lewis and MLK Jr. made as they read the signs of the times of their day and their place and their moment in history.
May she intercede on our behalf as we travel our sacred journeys and as we make good trouble on behalf of Mother Earth and our species striving to recover a sense of the sacred. May generosity flow from that as it did from Sr. Dorothy.
Thank you, Sr. Dorothy, for your generosity that we remember today.
See Charles Burack, ed., “Conclusion: The Future: A Letter to Young Seekers from Matthew Fox,” in Matthew Fox: Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality, pp. 242-250.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: During the visit of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, protesters marched in solidarity in front of the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, DC on April 9, 2012. The protesters were actively denouncing deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest, demanding protection of indigenous peoples and tribes, and crying out for justice for activists killed whilst campaigning in Brazil. Photo by Eric Spiegel on Flickr.
Queries for Contemplation
What good trouble are you making these days? How does truth drive you and sustain you in that important and prophetic work? Does Sister Dorothy’s life and death nurture you as well?
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.