AN EASTER MESSAGE FROM ILIA DELIO
Beatrice Bruteau was one of the great intellectual lights of the twentieth century and a disciple of Teilhard de Chardin. With a background in Vedanta and Catholic Christianity, as well as the natural sciences, she developed a broad, inclusive vision of human reality in its cosmic and social contexts. Analyzing the systemic and metaphysical roots of our social inequities, she offered an alternative worldview, featuring the incomparable value of each person and the community dynamics of mutual respect and care that follow from that view. Bruteau recognized the essential link between consciousness and evolution and discussed, in depth, the transformation of consciousness for a new world. She was keenly aware that creation is an ongoing event, a dynamic relationship between divinity and creation, marked by an internal impulse to evolve toward greater wholeness and consciousness.
While the natural world bears this inherent impulse toward complex unity, on the human level we have reached a level of intractable differences and find ourselves in a world of ideological polarities, conflict, violence, and war. Rather than becoming an organic whole, we have become splintered human fragments. Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si also recognizes a need for inner conversion toward wholeness, an idea that Bruteau would have celebrated. But evolution toward wholeness does not come “naturally” to us. In our modern period we have fallen into patterns of competition, greed, selfishness, and individualism that are giving way to loneliness, isolation, and global apathy. We are tethered to our devices and live with a daily blend of the real and the virtual. How did we arrive at a level of human nature that contradicts nature’s propensity toward wholeness? How has humanity become “unnatural?” Bruteau describes a fundamental shift in consciousness, from a “paleofeminine” consciousness of interrelatedness, community, tribal identity and wholeness to an “axial” consciousness of autonomy, individuality, and transcendence. The emergence of the axial period corresponds to what she calls a level of “masculism,” a rationalistic reflective consciousness that divides its subject matter, specializes, focuses, arranges, puts in rank ordering of superior and inferior, and ends by becoming domineering and mechanistic.
Easter is the sacrament of a new consciousness, a new awareness of belonging to God, creation, and to one another.
- Ilia Delio
The artificial separation between humans and cosmos, Teilhard de Chardin said, lies at the core of our contemporary moral confusion. Similarly, Nancy Abrams and Joel Primack state, “There is a profound connection between our lack of a shared cosmology and our increasing global problems. We have no sense how we and our fellow humans fit into the big picture. . .without a big picture we are very small people.” Small, fragmented, lost in space, the human person has become radically disconnected from the whole. We have become disconnected from nature and from one another. Abrams states, “the human race needs a coherent, believable picture of the universe that applies to all of us and gives our lives and our species a meaningful place in that universe.” Unless we reconnect to the whole, the cosmos, we cannot attain the wholeness of life we seek.
Bruteau sought to engage a higher level of consciousness, a neo-feminine consciousness, nurturing the uniqueness of individuals as participants in a cosmic whole. She writes: “The more conscious the individual becomes, the more individual becomes person, and each person is person only to the extent that the individual freely lives by the life of the Whole." The evolution of personal consciousness becomes thus a spiral of convergence, activated by delight in creating the future. She describes neo-feminine consciousness as a fundamental and ultimate sense of the unity of the entire human race and an attentive and appreciative sense of the specialness, the unique preciousness of each particular individual composing the whole. It is a new wholeness that is organic and differentiating, a pattern of freely intercommunicating energies that continues in a dynamic process of engagement. This type of consciousness opposes power, control, and domination. Rather, it is the consciousness of belonging, mutual affirmation, participation, and creative love by which one gives of one’s own life to foster life in others; a consciousness that perceives existentially rather than essentially, of shared values and shared goodness, a consciousness of belonging together and sharing a future together.
Jesus exemplifies this new, neo-feminine consciousness. Easter is the sacrament of a new consciousness, a new awareness of belonging to God, creation, and to one another. Resurrected life is transcendent life, breaking through our partial selves into a new wholeness of belonging. Christians are meant to be “Easter people,” those who live with a new consciousness of belonging to a new whole, a new cosmos, where God is center. For Teilhard and Bruteau, it is this new consciousness that should render us “evolvers,” participants in the awewome process of Christogenesis, birthing Christ by nurturing the love of God within us and among us. In this respect, Easter and Christmas are not merely two separate historical events; spiritually, they are joined together.
How can we understand the power of faith to deepen our lives and move us in a new direction toward the fullness of Christ? The Omega website seeks this aim in several ways: first, by seeing that science and religion need one another for a unified way of knowing the whole; second, by attending to the discoveries of science as signs of nature’s permeability, giving us insight to theology and the things of faith; and three, by growing into a new synthesis of science and religion through an inner growth of consciousness.
To achieve these aims we continue to publish ideas through our blogs and develop these ideas through praxis, that is, reflective action. However, we also have some new initiatives to share with you:
Growth requires resources and in our day and age the resources are not only spiritual and creative but include financial resources as well. Your financial support of the website is essential to our development and I am grateful to all those who have contributed to the website so far, either as subscribers or donors or both. May you be richly blessed!
- we realize the need to critically engage new ideas and thus are hoping to publish an e-journal on the website that will allow thinkers to engage theological research. We hope to launch this journal in the next few months.
- to deepen our understanding of the emerging new paradigm, we feel that the need to include the arts is important. We hope to publish poetry and perhaps short literary pieces on our website that captures the new energy of consciousness in evolution.
- we are also in the beginning stages of planning a major conference at Villanova University on technology, transcendence and the future of humanity, since our fastest evolver today is technology. The need to critically engage technology as part of God’s creative action in an evolving universe is vital to our future.
As we journey to Easter, may each one of us journey into a new level of mindful living, a new relatedness to the whole, making every effort to become a new person in cooperation with God. For at the heart of life is the heart of God who loves unconditionally and without reserve, a God who enters into the darkness and silence of death as the fullness of love, raising up all into the fullness of life. Easter is the sacrament of future and of life, a realization that God is making all things new.
Ilia Delio, OSF