Our Cosmic Mass at the Parliament of World Religions, continued

Another response to our recent Cosmic Mass at the POWR in Chicago came from an older man who came up to me afterwards, said this was his first TCM, and cried on my shoulders. 

“Singing Spiritual Warrior” Drawing gifted to Matthew Fox.

Another came from Meshi, a serious practitioner of the Red Path of the Lakota people and a multi-year practitioner of the Sundance.  He opened our TCM drumming Lakota Prayers to the Four Directions and ended it with a “Farewell” to the same spirits (“angels” if you are a Christian).  He said to me, “Matt, now I know what you are doing.” 

Later, I asked him what he meant because I don’t really know what I am doing, I am simply following Spirit as I feel it is leading me.  He said: “You are taking the sweat lodge and spreading it to a broader audience.  There are four rounds to a sweat lodge after all, not unlike the four Paths to the Cosmic Mass.”

A panel met the day after the Mass with some leaders of the TCM including Meshi and also Michelle Jordan, an African American song leader and ordained minister of the Church of Religious Science.  Skylar Wilson has been director of the TCM the past ten years and identifies as a Sufi and works as a wilderness and rites of passage leader.

Mariko Middleton is active in the Order of the Sacred Earth and busy these days rediscovering the story of her people, the indigenous ones of Okinawa, whose history at the hands of the dominant Japanese culture is not unlike the history of indigenous peoples in the Americas and elsewhere.  

Volunteers craft a flower of natural items for a Cosmic Mass altar. From Matthew Fox’s collection.

Ellen Kennedy led the spiral dance at the TCM and also led a workshop on sacred dance.  And Mary Plaster created the many large puppets of Earth, Sky, Water, Air and the small lit lanterns of various critters that brought festivity to the Mass.   

“Liturgy” means “the work of the people” and a Cosmic Mass is very much that.  A variety of people with a variety of talents, from a variety of traditions but with one thing in common: A hunger to bring the experience of the Divine alive in ritual.

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

Banner Image: Giant puppet representing the Sun, beside a projected galaxy image at the Cosmic Mass, 2023 Parliament of World Religions. Puppet and photo by Mary Plaster. Published with permission.

Queries for Contemplation

Have you attended a Cosmic Mass?  Indigenous rituals?  Burning Man?  A Mass at church?  What does ritual do for you?  What can it do for a community?  Why does Malidoma Some say “there is no community without ritual.”

Recommended Reading

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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6 thoughts on “Our Cosmic Mass at the Parliament of World Religions, continued”

  1. Avatar

    What then is the ‘ritual of living’? Do we not all have rituals? We do, do we not?

    But it is what makes ‘the ritual sacred’ versus profane is what makes the difference does it not? And it is how we make the profane and ordinary into ‘the sacred’, which instills a richer life within us, does it not?

    Gratitude makes everything we have and that given to us a sacred gift. Humility does not place anything or anyone below our attention and consideration. Gratitude and humility together covet the sacred in all. When we see our condition with eyes of blessing, our actions become ‘rituals of blessing’.

    The ‘drumbeat of the Spirit’ is within us all. As we march in tune with the ‘drummer within’ we become in step with the ‘oneness of existence’ and become ‘one with all experience’. There is ‘a cosmic mass’ and ‘a perpetual adoration’ going on within us right now if we care to observe and experience it. It is heartfelt, and it is conscious of its congruence with all time and space and peace and stillness and joy. Love fills all empty places and spaces, without which there would be no community. — BB.

  2. Avatar

    I love this. It makes so much sense and it touches joy. There is nothing like this where I live, so I appreciate reading about it.

  3. Avatar

    Ritual and ceremony personally for me, is a means of being, living and co-creatively, imaginatively and mutually participating in relationship with… strengthening the bonds of connection with the spiritual reality of our Oneness and Wholeness with… the Mystery of the all and the everything of creation. It’s a means of experiencing, encountering, acknowledging, aligning with and responding to this harmonious reality and the beauty and goodness of this.

    It also challenges me to let go of any self-imposed hinderances or obstacles… healing the wounds of the illusions of seperation… that block the natural flow of this spiritual reality… opening me to rediscover, remember and reclaim the original blessings and the abundant fullness of our true Oneness and Wholeness… and the spiritual reality of this… which unfolds, evolves and emerges when converging with this Mystery; through the transformational processes that ritual and ceremony offers.

  4. Avatar

    Since I have not found deep ecumenical spiritual rituals in my community, I’ve had to rely on a few virtual spiritual communities on the webinar that partially meet my communal spiritual needs on my spiritual journey. However, I am open to the DIVINE LOVING PRESENCE within my heart that spiritually and compassionately connects me with All my sisters and brothers, with beautiful Sacred Mother Nature/Earth and all Her living creatures and graceful abundance, and with-in All our Sacred physical & non-physical multidimensional-multiverse Evolving LOVING DIVERSE ONENESS COSMOS in the Sacred Process of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT….

  5. Avatar

    Ritual and Community…
    During my life I have been involved in Drumming Rituals and Circle Dance rituals both adding tremendous richness to my life but the one I most remember and now believe to have been a Cosmic opening was when I sang in Coventry Cathedral.
    It came about as a Music College group was asked to cover the Church Services in Coventry Cathedral in a Summer week whilst the choristers were on vacation. Lots of rehearsals and preparation musically did not prepare me emotionally for the experience I encountered. The site itself had been rebuilt after Coventry Cathedral had been bombed to destruction in World War 11 with only it’s foundations left remaining. Already a strong emotional charge as this replacement Cathedral meant so much to so many people.
    During one of the services I heard a voice singing with an opening of joy and strength only to realise that the voice was in fact my own! It was pure ecstasy both inside me and outside me and I was drowning in the echoes and resonances within the setting of the choir and all the other voices. Words are inadequate to properly describe what seemed like the lifting of a veil into another world.
    For me, Church singing has remained a form of intense prayer during the whole of my life.

  6. Avatar

    I have not had the opportunity to attend a Cosmic Mass or other alternative services, but I often find great comfort, joy, and blessed community in the small group who gather weekly for the ritual of healing at a nearby Episcopal Church. The ritual of the laying on of hands individually has great meaning for me, as well as the prayers for healing for all, and the shared pain and suffering of all of us who attend. Healing occurs.

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