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April 2020 Vol 59 No 2
The Spirit in Creation

Ecological Conversion and the Spiritual Exercises

In his 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis called on Christians to undertake an ecological conversion of individual and communities. Here Eric Jensen both develops an understanding of what it means to talk of such a conversion, and asks how it might be brought about, finding in the Spiritual Exercises a useful tool to facilitate such transformation.

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The Cosmic Christ

Ahilya Noone’s starting point is ‘whether it is possible to interpret Christ in a way that can provide an ethical and spiritual basis for Christianity’s care for creation’. She finds such a way in the notion of the ‘cosmic Christ’, and traces the historic development of this idea in theologians from Irenaeus in the second century to Celia Deane-Drummond writing today.

Cosmic Intimacy

The idea for this article came to the writer while she was praying on retreat, as she reviewed the current state of her relationship with God. Describing that relationship as ‘cosmic intimacy’, Gem Yecla takes this as a theme drawing together sexuality, intimacy, ecology, cosmology and mysticism. Ultimately ‘cosmic intimacy’ offers us all the prospect of developing a broader ecological spirituality.

Dark Matter to Bright Faith

‘To an Unknown God’: How Religion Proclaims What Science Worships

A Scientist Finding God

The material republished from the Jesuits’ online journal Thinking Faith in this issue of The Way, unusually, consists of three linked pieces by different authors. All alike focus on the much-debated relationship between faith and science. Taken together they point to how a scientific worldview leads to a fuller understanding of God’s place in the world.

Cosmicism: An Emerging Pneumatic Mystagogy

The word ‘cosmicism’ is used by Jojo Fung to describe an articulated cosmic spirituality, based on an understanding of the presence and action of ruach Elohim, the Spirit of God, in the whole of creation, and also drawing on indigenous people’s approach to the world as sacred. These ideas are here related to the vision of St Ignatius Loyola in the Fourth Week of his Spiritual Exercises.

Elderly But Still Active: Reflections on Later Life

In most of the nations of the Western world, the proportion of elderly people continues to grow. Here, in our occasional Spirituality and Living strand, Marion Morgan offers a perspective on that part of the spiritual journey which is to be accomplished in later life. She calls for rejoicing, courage and an ever-deeper reliance on God.

Pilgrimage and Addiction: Walking with Ignatius

A number of articles in The Way in recent years have dealt with the experience of making a pilgrimage on foot, following the Camino de Santiago, or tracing Ignatius’s journey from Loyola to Rome. Here an anonymous author offers a new approach to this theme, linking pilgrimage to the Twelve Steps of the Alcoholics Anonymous programme and the struggle to overcome alcoholism.

Compassion as a Priestly Virtue

No one who knows anything of Christian teachings would be surprised to hear it argued that compassion lies at their heart. Robert Doud here takes this further by suggesting that compassion is a priestly virtue; not one, however, confined to an ordained caste, but a virtue central to all those who, by reason of their baptism, become members of a priestly people.

Marie Madeleine d'Houët and the Jesuits

In 1820 Marie Madeleine d’Houët founded a congregation of religious women in France, the Faithful Companions of Jesus. Here, in their bicentenary year, one of their number, Teresa White, describes the bitter-sweet relationship that the Faithful Companions have enjoyed with the Jesuit order, particularly at their origins, but also over the last two centuries and looking to the future.

From the Foreword

SINCE ITS RELAUNCH at the turn of the millennium, The Way has been produced in two different formats. Three of each year’s quarterly issues publish material submitted by writers directly, dealing with their interests and concerns, without any predetermined underlying theme. (Writing the foreword on those occasions thus becomes a challenge to trace some common threads through the variety!) By contrast one issue annually, the special issue, is made up of commissioned articles considering different aspects of a topic that the Editorial Board considers important—most recently, in October last year, the idea of a discerning Church.

This issue of The Way is not one of the special issues, although you could be forgiven for thinking at first sight that it was. Many of the authors here are keen to explore the idea of what it means to think of the Spirit of God permeating creation, and what the implications of this are for Christian life and action in the world. Gem Yecla experiences ‘cosmic intimacy’ as a connection between God and humanity offering a possible basis for a contemporary spirituality that addresses seriously the ecological concerns that are of particular concern today. Jojo Fung explores the mystical relationship with God’s creative Spirit, present in all things, from stars to neutrinos, and finds parallels with the ways in which many indigenous people have related for centuries to the world around them. Pope Francis drew on similar ideas in his widely influential 2015 encyclical Laudato si’, and Eric Jensen traces the Pope’s call in that document to a kind of ecological conversion.

A renewed spirituality with an ecological starting point needs to be rooted firmly both in theology and science. Ahilya Noone describes a theology of the ‘cosmic Christ’ and its long history in Christian thought. The three linked pieces that are reprinted here from the online journal Thinking Faith are all written by British Province Jesuits with a background in science. Paolo Beltrame considers the role that faith has to play in science; Kensy Joseph draws a parallel between the ways in which science is understood and the ‘unknown God’ preached by St Paul on the Areopagus in Athens; and Michael Smith sketches the life and work of Teilhard de Chardin, palaeontologist and priest.

The remaining articles in this issue are admittedly more varied in their concerns. Alcoholics Anonymous prefer those writing about their programmes to do so without using their own names. Such an article here links their Twelve Steps to the experience of pilgrimage. A regular contributor, Bob Doud, shows how the virtue of compassion is central to the developing priestly relationship with God to which everyone baptized is called. In our Spirituality and Living strand, Marion Morgan offers a spiritual perspective on ageing. And, marking the bicentenary of its foundation, Teresa White considers the changing relationship between her own congregation, the Faithful Companions of Jesus, and the Jesuit order.

Paul Nicholson SJ

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