Week of 8/21-26/2023: Chenu, the Cosmic Mass & the Cosmos

August 21, 2023: Père Chenu, Mentor and Namer of Creation Spirituality
Matthew tells us about the memorable teaching of his mentor and soul-friend Père Chenu, who said that that there are two spiritual traditions in Christianity: that which begins with the Fall and that which begins with Creation. If one understands the “Fall” to be the concept of original sin, then Elie Weisel’s words are very important: “Original sin is not only not in the Bible but it introduces an idea that is contrary to Jewish thinking.” Meanwhile “Original Blessing” can be found in the creation story of Genesis in which God consistently expresses pleasure after each aspect of creation.

Creation and ecological balance is reborn through the Re-Wilding efforts in places that once had heavy industrial farming. Here, in Britain. Photo by Ray B’s world. Wikimedia Commons.

August 22, 2023: Returning from the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago
Matthew shares about his participation at the World Parliament of Religions where, among other things, he led a Cosmic Mass which was attended by about 700 people! The mass was held at the McCormick Center on Lake Michigan. Many years ago Matthew heard a talk there given by theologian Hans Küng. Küng had compared the Roman Catholic Church with the Politburo of Russia. This was a real wake-up call for Matthew. Years later, he learned that Küng had, like Matthew, attended the Institut Catholique de Paris.

Giant puppets of Fire, Earth, and the Moon, by Mary Plaster, oversee the Creation Spirituality Communities booth at the Parliament of World Religions. Photo by Mary Plaster, published with permission.

August 23, 2023. The Cosmos and the Cosmic Mass
For those not yet familiar, the Cosmic Mass is a movement to reset and revitalize worship, liturgy, and ritual. Matthew has been involved in sharing these powerful worship experiences for more than 27 years. The impetus for the Cosmic Mass arose from an observation that young people are often absent from traditional worship services as well as his subsequent meeting of young people in England offering Planetary Mass. Many years later, the Cosmic Mass is still inspiring and electrifying young people and others.

August 24, 2023. Our Cosmic Mass at the Parliament of World Religions, cont’d
After the Cosmic Mass, an older gentleman came up to Matthew, so moved that he cried on Matthew’s shoulder. Another man who follows “the good red road” compared the Cosmic Mass and its four paths with the sweatlodge and its honoring of the four directions. Many people came together to help bring the Cosmic Mass to the Parliament of World Religions. As Matthew reminds us, “liturgy” means “the work of the people” and a Cosmic Mass is very much that. 

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

August 25, 2023. The Cosmos on My Mind—Yours Too?
Matthew is currently teaching a class with Brian Swimme, and so the cosmos is very much on his mind. In Brian’s latest book, Cosmogenesis: An Unveiling of the Expanding Universe, he recalls discovering Thomas Berry. It was Berry who said, “Ecology is functional cosmology.” He also said that our survival as a planet necessitates awakening to “our sacred story.” It is imperative that science and spirituality work together. If we cultivate awe in the wonders of the universe, it will light a fire in our bellies to preserve our own precious world.

August 26, 2023. Cosmos on My Mind, Renaissance on My Mind
Chenu spoke about how it was the rediscovery of nature that birthed the great 12th century renaissance that was a “spiritual revolution” as well as a cultural awakening. Now, with our expanded awareness of the cosmos as facilitated by the Webb telescope, science is beginning to awaken to spirituality, and spirituality is grounding in science. We, as a species, are at a great turning point. We can choose to be a force for knowledge and praise and celebration, or we can continue on a path of destruction. It is time, as Brian Swimme says, to finally “come of age.”

Banner image: The Earth in our hands. Image by Gerd Altmann on Pixabay

Recommended Reading

The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human

The A.W.E. Project reminds us that awe is the appropriate response to the unfathomable wonder that is creation… A.W.E. is also the acronym for Fox’s proposed style of learning – an approach to balance the three R’s. This approach to learning, eldering, and mentoring is intelligent enough to honor the teachings of the Ancestors, to nurture Wisdom in addition to imparting knowledge, and to Educate through Fox’s 10 C’s. The 10 C’s are the core of the A.W.E. philosophy and process of education, and include: compassion, contemplation, and creativity. The A.W.E. Project does for the vast subject of “learning” what Fox’s Reinvention of Work did for vocation and Original Blessing did for theology. Included in the book is a dvd of the 10 C’s put to 10 video raps created and performed by Professor Pitt.
An awe-based vision of educational renewal.Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action
By Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jen Listug

In the midst of global fire, earthquake and flood – as species are going extinct every day and national and global economies totter – the planet doesn’t need another church or religion. What it needs is a new Order, grounded in the Wisdom traditions of both East and West, including science and indigenous. An Order of the Sacred Earth united in one sacred vow: “I promise to be the best lover and defender of the Earth that I can be.”
Co-authored by Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jennifer Berit Listug, with a forward by David Korten, this collection of essays by 21 spiritual visionaries including Brian Swimme, Mirabai Starr, Theodore Richards, and Kristal Parks marks the founding of the diverse and inclusive Order of the Sacred Earth, a community now evolving around the world.
“The Order of the Sacred Earth not only calls us home to our true nature as Earth, but also offers us invaluable guidance and company on the way.”  ~~ Joanna Macy, environmental activist and author of Active Hope.

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4 thoughts on “Week of 8/21-26/2023: Chenu, the Cosmic Mass & the Cosmos”

  1. Avatar

    “Action is the Only ‘True Living Form of Prayer’

    Where people pay homage to the truth, the Living God is present and accepted. Where people pay homage to untruth, the Living God is present but not accepted by them. Is it any surprise that the U.S.A. has become the home of violence, hate, racism and death? Recent events are tragic and appalling but are not the first of their kind either.

    The ‘land of the free’ is, for the most part, barricaded now due to fear and divisiveness. This is not new, but only worse. Will the worst get better or worse again? What are the signs of getting better? What are the signs of getting worse? The present needs to be overhauled with decisiveness, leadership and the acceptance of lesser pain now, than the greater pain to be experienced if left untreated. What are the signs of today telling us? Is taking action not the only ‘true living form of prayer’ when the end results are truly within our control and responsibility? — BB.

  2. Avatar

    The USA has become darkened by violence and bigotry but so has Russia which has become a nation of fear of speaking the truth and of empathy for the people of Ukraine. A cosmic spirituality can root us in eternal and lasting values, giving us a perspective and a humanity that is needed amid the dark forces that beset us.

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