July 2022 was a time of new perspectives.
The month started with the Second Assembly of the Plenary Council. I was one of those ‘fanatics’ who watched the broadcasted sessions and liturgies and soaked up the various podcasts, commentaries and panel discussions that described and analysed the process and outcomes of the Plenary Council. Eva Skira has written an excellent reflection on the Plenary Council which you can read on the AMPJP website. I share Eva’s assessment that the Plenary Council was a time of grace for the Church that will continue to shape us for years. While the Decrees are significant, I think the main grace was in the very real experience of synodality – listening to and being impacted by each other, having an attitude of respect and openness to different perspectives and working through difficulties rather than parties walking away or the dominant party squashing dissent. My hope is that synodality will become the default attitude and process for all groups within the Church.
In the week following the Plenary Council, the world was captivated by the first images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. I encourage everyone to take in the beauty and significance of the images from the Webb telescope. Astronomers tell us that the images we are seeing are from the early universe -about 13 billion years ago. I find it awesome that we are seeing the past and that we see suns, black holes, planets and other entities being attracted to or influenced by each other. We understand that all matter has the same origin and has been in motion since the ‘big bang’. From our experience on Earth, we know that this is not a meaningless and sterile cosmic motion but one that brings forth life in wonderful diversity.
Being a person of faith, I see God’s creative Spirit pulsing through the universe and through the Plenary Council. Much of the present is still a chaotic mystery that we struggle to experience – let alone understand. As for the final outcome – the universe like the Church is ever expanding. There is no final outcome as the horizon moves with us. We will always be a pilgrim people – our identity and nature is journey not destination.
The whole universe is aflame.
Let the starry immensities therefore expand
into an ever more prodigious repository of assembled suns;
let the light-rays prolong indefinitely,
at each end of the spectrum,
the range of their hues and their penetrative power;
let life draw from yet more distant sources
the sap which flows through its innumerable branches;
and let us go on and on endlessly
increasing our perception of the hidden powers that slumber,
and the infinitesimally tiny ones that swarm about us,
and the immensities that escape us
because they appear to us simply as a point.
From all these discoveries,
each of which plunges him a little deeper into the ocean of energy,
the mystic derives an unalloyed delight,
and his thirst for them is unquenchable;
for he will never feel himself sufficiently dominated
by the powers of the earth and the skies
to be brought under God’s yoke
as completely as he would wish.
It is in fact God,
who through his Spirit
stirs up into a ferment the mass of the universe
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