Members of Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, Florida spent almost one hour and one-half in a lively discussion of Chapter 5 "love and suffering" in her ground-breaking book on evolutionary spirituality in The Unbearable Wholeness of Being by Sister Illia Delio.
One of our conclusions is that this book presents a deep mystical theology that most Catholics, in the view, of most of our group are not aware of even now. God in institutional religion has been portrayed as a judging, avenging God. Some of the women in our group said they were told to stay in marriages that were abusive and offer it up. This book liberates God and the human spirit for an encounter with boundless love.
"...love is not what God does, love is who God. Faith is what brings us into the deepest truth that says we are in the image of a unlimited , unrestricted, unimaginable love." p. 84.
"God is not the prime mover of a static cosmos but the dynamism of love swelling up in space time through the process of evolution and rise of consciousness. "
"To have faith in a God of unconditional love is to realize how intimately close God is. So close we forget God's presence." p. 84
"The cross reveals to us the heart of God because it reveals the vulnerability of Gods love. " p. 85
Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 1981.
1st Reading: The Breaking of Bread
Acts 1:14. These all joined together in prayer, with the women and
with Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
Sometimes she felt amazement when she looked at some
of the people around her, especially the men. They came from
one of the hardiest livelihoods in existence,
subject to all the insecurities of seasonal weather,
highly competitive, often dangerous.
Lake fishing for a living did not encourage the gentler virtues.
Yet here they were, haunted and held by something
they had encountered on that lakeshore and
had sacrificed endless time over,
during the last few years.
The extraordinary thing was that now
there seemed to be no end to it.
They had become a community,
and she herself had survived and been given strength
by the immense affection shown to her.
She found herself thinking of all this again
as she watched the piece of home-made bread pass
from hand to hand toward her. She had got used to this
moment now. They did it whenever they were
together, any small gathering of his followers.
They were not all here in this house;
others had gone to find shelter either with friends or
relations or at an inn. Some had gone into Jerusalem
hoping to stay with various families.
In the Bethany house she had been welcomed
by those whose friendship had meant so much to her son.
John and a few others had stayed here.
The bread came near to her. Suddenly it was in John’s hand, and
he was hesitating before turning to her.
She had not so far been able to take part in
this simple but terrible action.
Even in symbolism her whole being rebelled against this
eating and drinking of the body and blood of him
who was of her own body and blood. Again she felt
conflicting feelings sweeping over her, taking away
her ability to think and act. She realized that every
eye around the table was on her. She became aware of the
circle of faces. Once they had been strange and often resented
because of the close friendship they had had with him,
the kind of friendship she had longed for so desperately.
But now she saw them differently.
She realized the love and support this circle, and
even a greater circle not with them at the
moment, had given her. The depth of all this
love entered into her. It seemed to her swimming eyes
that all their faces became one, and she knew that the
single face was his, and that the love in their
faces and the love in his face was one and the
same love. She found herself eating and drinking,
the rough bread melding with her body and the wine stinging its way into the center of her being.
Suddenly she was aware of absolute silence, and she
knew she was with him again. She could never be
sure later if any words were spoke. She often tried to
capture his appearance, as indeed they all did,
but she found it impossible. She and they could only
say that it was him, yet more intensely and more
vividly him than at any moment of encounter
she had ever known. And then he was gone, and in
some way they were released. Yet they felt released
for a purpose.
This too is the word of God. All: Thanks be to God.
2nd Reading. The Roadway to the Stars
While Mary disappears from us as a woman of flesh and blood,
living somewhere through the eventful first years of
those growing communities which would one day
in far away Antioch be called Christian, she
remains in the forefront of Christian history. Whatever be our
particular stance toward a concept such as her
bodily assumption into the heavenly realm, an
unarguable fact remains: in the consciousness of
Christians, Mary never died. For the twenty centuries of
our history we have remembered her in innumerable ways.
This awareness has existed on many levels,
from thankful recollection of her role in the
divine drama as described in the New Testament to
claims of her power so extravagant that more than
once in history a responsible voice has had to
counsel carefulness, and to call a retreat from
ultimate claims about her. …
We begin to realize that the legend of the angels bearing
Mary’s tired and worn body to her Creator is a
human attempt to express something impossible to
explain yet equally impossible to deny.
This “something” is the fact that, at least in some sense,
Mary does not die, and that she has proved in countless
lives to be a channel for the grace of her son.
This too is the word of God. All: Thanks be to God.