We are meditating on Sister Dorothy Stang’s writings taken from letters to her sisters and her family. 

Amazon rainforest. Rio Negro (Black River). Photo by James Martins. Wikimedia Commons.

We concluded yesterday’s meditation with her teaching about a “real God”—one whose essence is goodness. The goodness of creation and of the Amazon forest and of people trying to live a good life stand as evidence of that. 

Thomas Aquinas talks about “original goodness” and how God is “sheer goodness.” In our classes at ICCS which Dorothy attended during a sabbatical, we spoke, of course, about “original blessing.” 

We continue her writings here:

We can’t talk about the poor. We must be poor with the poor and then there is no doubt how to act.
There are so many challenges for us as we try to discover what it means to live the Gospel in the midst of the people in our world. 

A rural farmer in Brazil. Photo by Kate Evans/CIFOR on Flickr.

My heart screams joy, but I’m needing patience as reform can’t happen overnight. How to keep hope alive has been our challenge.
Thank you, my good God, for life filled with friends and wonderful adventure—sharing, caring, laughing and crying.
God’s gift to us is to live more fully as part of our cosmic creation.
I work with people who are living on the margin. They help me in renewing the earth in the way we take care of it.  All of us are part of a great Oneness.
We are only here on the land for a few decades. Use every day to bring joy and not greed to our tired land so full of anguish.
We must help the people recapture a relationship with Mother earth that is tender and kind.
Pray for all of us and for a world where all can live—plants, animals and human life—in peace and harmony.
I’m trying daily to fill my lungs with the beauty of our cosmos—her energy—so all that is to be woman can be felt in me. 

“Violet-capped Woodnymph (Thalurania glaucopis) on Leonotis nepetifolia (L.)” in Bahia, Brazil. Photo by Alex Popovkin. Wikimedia Commons.

The beauty of the cosmos and her energy and plants, animals and human life living in peace and harmony and displacing greed with joy and trying to live Gospel values–this is creation spirituality in a nutshell. My student becomes my teacher.  

To be continued.

See Matthew Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, pp. 95-103, 107, 122-126, 116f., 202-205.

And Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas, pp. 33-52.

And Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic—and Beyond, pp. 20-33.

Banner image: Aerial view of the Amazon River entering the Atlantic, Brazilian coast. Wikimedia Commons.

Queries for Contemplation

Are you busy filling your lungs with the beauty of our cosmos and her energy? Do you feel part of a “great Oneness”?

Recommended Reading

Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox renders Thomas Aquinas accessible by interviewing him and thus descholasticizing him.  He also translated many of his works such as Biblical commentaries never before in English (or Italian or German of French).  He  gives Aquinas a forum so that he can be heard in our own time. He presents Thomas Aquinas entirely in his own words, but in a form designed to allow late 20th-century minds and hearts to hear him in a fresh way. 
“The teaching of Aquinas comes through will a fullness and an insight that has never been present in English before and [with] a vital message for the world today.” ~ Fr. Bede Griffiths (Afterword).
Foreword by Rupert Sheldrake

The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times

A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book!  Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic–and Beyond

Julian of Norwich lived through the dreadful bubonic plague that killed close to 50% of Europeans. Being an anchoress, she ‘sheltered in place’ and developed a deep wisdom that she shared in her book, Showings, which was the first book in English by a woman. A theologian way ahead of her time, Julian develops a feminist understanding of God as mother at the heart of nature’s goodness. Fox shares her teachings in this powerful and timely and inspiring book.
“What an utterly magnificent book. The work of Julian of Norwich, lovingly supported by the genius of Matthew Fox, is a roadmap into the heart of the eco-spiritual truth that all life breathes together.”  –Caroline Myss
Now also available as an audiobook HERE.

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6 thoughts on “Sister Dorothy’s Teachings, continued”

  1. Avatar

    “The Great Healer, the Great Oneness”

    I am literally filling my lungs with the Great Oneness of Life. I came down with Covid – Pneumonia on 09 2023, was intubated for 8 days for life support, 9 weeks in hospital and still rehabbing the lungs and body today. A spiritual relationship with ‘the Holy Fire’ and an embrace of Its purification in the ‘good times’, carries over to such time as we find ourselves weak and infirm. We need to ‘find God’ while near and not find ourselves asleep without ‘oil for our lamps’. — BB. —-
    And as good ‘soldiers’, good ‘disciples’, we continue our march in good times and in bad, in times of joy and sorrow, in pain and in good health. And we march together towards ‘the light’ even in the darkest of times, and dark they will get at times. — BB May 20 2023. —
    Hope is an active path. If we find ourselves ‘in the fire of hell’, we might as well start walking through it and out of it. That is ‘the Eternal Promise’ we have been given. Let’s start walking ‘a healing path’ and leave behind all that ails us. Hope is a healing and transformative verb. — BB 07 29 24. —–
    Contemplation opens us up to the ‘Great Healer’ who will lovingly come to dislodge that which we cannot overcome and heal by ourselves. Contemplation will open us up to more than we know and more that we can see and hear, only because we don’t know, and don’t see and don’t hear, until we do. — BB 04 27 2023 —-

  2. Avatar

    Daily, I try to be open to the Love~Wisdom~Beauty~Joy~Healing~Transformation~Creativity~
    Compassion… PRESENT in my heart/Soul/COSMOS in the Sacred Process/Flow of the ETERNAL

  3. Avatar
    Martina Nicholson MD

    Dear Fr. Matt,
    I am so glad you are quoting Sister Dot, and the wholeness of her life, in the group of people she was living and working with, and the rest of creation all around her. Living with joy and the feeling of abundant blessings is why we would want to be like her! I made it to walk on the beach this morning. The ocean was that grey-green which it has on rainy days, with a feeling of being very cold, and some big waves. I need to be out on that strand, interfacing with that distant horizon. It is the best anchor for me against the constraints of civilization. But– I would like to stay warm, have light and electricity, and have internet connection. Last week my phone broke I got a new one, and am trying to learn to use it. It is not like the old one, so it is hard. The loss of power (Powerlessness) in the last rainstorm refocuses me on the Earth, its needs. Thinking about the deep mud which kept one’s shoes, and so we often went out barefoot, in the heavy rainy season, in Paraguay. Even good, tightly- laced boots would come off, staying down under the thick clay, letting a foot loose with a sucking sound. We would have to dig the boot out. When people just read about it, they don’t understand the time, energy, smell, feel, context of it. I loved the photo of the woman farmer and all the animals in her space!

  4. Avatar

    What a wonderful question: busy filling my lungs with the Great Mother? It’s ironic that I am literally in the throes of mothering my small boys day to day, but how I’ll be worn down by them, and yet it is all the same action of mothering and abiding, from the very small and mundane to the cosmic.

    I’ve been lately meditating on Confidence, or my lack thereof, and I wonder if Confidence is similar to Courage? Another thing that comes to mind is the role of Motivation in Confidence. What is the Motivation of the Great Mother? I was asking myself that, and the answer came in your meditation, when you quote from Sister Dorothy: “daily to fill my lungs with the beauty of our cosmos—her energy—so all that is to be woman can be felt in me.”

  5. Avatar

    We can’t talk about the poor. We must be poor with the poor and then there is no doubt how to act. This is the oneness about which Sister Dorothy speaks and which she manifested in her life. What a blessing it is to read about this holy woman–and what an inspiration.

  6. Avatar

    Do I always “feel a part of the oneness”? No, the mystical experience is fleeting. Life moves on, flowing through both challenges and banalities, as we keep exploring ever-new moments.

    Do I KNOW myself — and everyone — to be IN the One?
    YES, the Mystical Revelation, the Union-into-the-Transcendent-One , is an absolute certainty, seared into my soul down to the depths of my being. The Gift of this mystical message — from Spirit, through me, to all people — is a sign of the strength of Spirit’s (God’s) Love for everyone.

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