One reason the cosmos is on my mind is that we just celebrated a “Cosmic Mass” (TCM) in honor of the Sacredness of Earth (and therefore the Cosmos) at last week’s Parliament of World Religions in Chicago. 

The Cosmic Mass, Creativa portion, at the Parliament of World Religions, 2023, with wildlife lanterns sculpted by University of Creation Spirituality graduate Mary Plaster, D.Min. Photo by Mary Plaster, published with permission.

The TCM is a movement to reset and revitalize worship, liturgy, ritual—call it what you will—that I have been involved in for 27 years or more.  And for which I became an Episcopal priest 29 years ago: to work with young people to bring liturgy alive through post-modern art forms. 

I sensed back then what is obvious today—the absence of the young in particular, but many others too, at Western liturgy where the form is often too stilted, stiff, eye-oriented and too bound to reading prayers from a book instead of inviting them from our hearts and bodies (the heart is inside the body after all and the center of all seven chakras). 

The Oakland Tribune devoted a cover story to the early days of the Cosmic Mass.

So I offered, in the last chapter of my book on The Reinvention of Work,  seven steps to revitalizing worship in the West.  Two weeks after handing my manuscript to the publisher six members of the NOS community in Sheffield, England showed up at a conference I was conducting on CS in Seattle.  They told me of their “Planetary Mass,” and that began my journey into bringing rave to Liturgy.

One response I received from our recent TCM at the Parliament was from a young woman (I would guess about 27 years old) who came up to me afterwards and said:

I am electrified.  My whole body is feeling like electricity is pulsing through it.  This is what my generation needs—the recovering of a sense of the sacred, the grieving, the empowerment, to be agents of creativity and transformation.  I want to commit myself to this kind of work the rest of my life.

See Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-denominational Priest, pp. 5-16, 363-383.

Also see Fox, “Ritual: Where the Great Work of the Universe and the Work of the People Come Together,” The Reinvention of Work, pp. 249-295.

Banner Image: A poet/activist recites during a Cosmic Mass on racial justice in the Washington National Cathedral. Photo by Katy Gaughan, published with permission.

Queries for Contemplation

Have you had experiences in worship or ritual where the great work of the universe and your existence, the Self and the self, come together?  What fruits were borne from that experience?

Recommended Reading

Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest (Revised/Updated Edition)

Matthew Fox’s stirring autobiography, Confessions, reveals his personal, intellectual, and spiritual journey from altar boy, to Dominican priest, to his eventual break with the Vatican. Five new chapters in this revised and updated edition bring added perspective in light of the author’s continued journey, and his reflections on the current changes taking place in church, society and the environment.
“The unfolding story of this irrepressible spiritual revolutionary enlivens the mind and emboldens the heart — must reading for anyone interested in courage, creativity, and the future of religion.”
—Joanna Macy, author of World as Lover, World as Self

The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood For Our Time

Thomas Aquinas said, “To live well is to work well,” and in this bold call for the revitalization of daily work, Fox shares his vision of a world where our personal and professional lives are celebrated in harmony–a world where the self is not sacrificed for a job but is sanctified by authentic “soul work.”
“Fox approaches the level of poetry in describing the reciprocity that must be present between one’s inner and outer work…[A]n important road map to social change.” ~~ National Catholic Reporter

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7 thoughts on “The Cosmos and the Cosmic Mass”

  1. Avatar

    “In and Within ‘the Living God’ “

    We may have experiences that heighten our awareness of ‘the Living God’ but we should endeavour to go beyond that. The highs and lows of living can be evened out and still be growing at the same time. We need to function in such a way that our ‘state of being’ will continuously experience ‘the Living God’ in everything we do. Our elevated state of being as such, would see and experience the highest levels of God consciousness, in sitting, in contemplation, in washing dishes, in drinking water, in observing a small army of ants, etc. How we bring an elevated God consciousness to a profound gathering in such as a ‘cosmic mass’, should be the same elevated God consciousness we bring to everything we do. We are to stay in grace and experience ‘the all-pervading’, at all times. We in essence become the ‘cosmic mass’ and are never apart from it. This is to be our experience in and within ‘the Living God’. — BB.

    1. Avatar

      Bill B., Your exuberance is wonderful, and certainly you have stated the ideal goal: that we feel the awe-ness of God every minute of the days of our life. But I don’t believe that is humanly possible! Yes, our lives can be greatly changed by these Holy Experiences, but we are still human beings living in this world. We desperately need the Cosmic Mass at vital times, but, for myself, I would probably go crazy if I felt such ecstasy all the time.

  2. Avatar

    Several years ago, the Gateway Worship Center hosted 3 days of worship, none stop 24/7. Worship teams from many different churches came as well as many different pastors from several denominations. The doors of the church were left open the whole time, encouraging people to simply enter in… and many did. There was a mix of different styles of worship music, dancing, prophetic utterances, scripture reading, eucharist celebration, group prayer, meditative silence, firewalks, artists painting, and laying on of hands healing. I didn’t sleep for the whole 3 days. This was much like Mathew’s Cosmic Masses. I had never experienced anything like this before, in a church setting.

    Hildegard of Bigen, taught the importance of kindling the fire, the Spirit within. Others have taught this as igniting the spark of the Divine within, into a flame. In my experience these sacred moments open a gateway… into awakening to and remembering the JOY of being and living in an authentically organic and dynamically creative, celebratory relationship with God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, each other, and the all and the everything of creation… in a beautiful way. My whole concept of worship was transformed… as was I… along with many others.

  3. Avatar

    I have experienced it…long ago when involved with other women. We all contributed to the creating of the celebration. We were honest, invested, given heart, soul and body to the communal experiencing of joyful celebration of the sacred in the here and now. I yearn for this today.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      When I was a student at the University of Creation Spirituality I took a class from Jill Martin on the “how to do” a Techno-Cosmic Mass, and at the end of the class we put on our own for the school. And I used to attend the Cosmic Masses at the Sweet Ballroom in Oakland–each one had a theme, and each one was amazing !!!

  4. Avatar

    Sadly, I have not yet had a communal experience of worship or ritual where the Self and self, cosmic consciousness, come together. However, that is my developing Faith and trust on my daily spiritual journey within and around me compassionately with others, with our beautiful Sacred Mother Nature/Earth, and with-in All Sacred multidimensional-multiverse Evolving Loving Diverse Oneness Cosmos in the Sacred Process of the Eternal Present Moment….

  5. Avatar

    My childhood Lutheran church was usually a rather uninspiring place, and I never felt any mystical moments or epiphanies there. But one event, initiated by our elderly pastor, made a lasting, deep impression on me. Our pastor was friends with an elderly local rabbi who survived the Nazi concentration camps, so he invited his friend to do a Passover celebration in the church, to honor one of the rituals of the Old Testament Bible which was celebrated by Jesus and his disciples. It was an act of respect and love, on many levels. I never forgot that day, even if I couldn’t remember the specifics of the ceremony. It was a ritual of profound meaning, even if we didn’t unwrap all its messages at that time.

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