More Spiritual Reflections

Spiritual Reflections



Sr. Helene Cooke, IHM
April 09, 2008


The Lord be with you!

R. And also with you!

A sharing from the Gospel of our lives rooted in and integrated with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!

Justice of Micah

Act justly, think justice, be just! Healthy, balanced relationships pivot on the foundational tripod of justice, love, and humility/truth, as in the declaration of Micah. When I say "Healthy, balanced relationships" I am defining true holiness; I mean, how one lives relationally with God's people.

Imagine your family at this year's thanksgiving dinner. All are invited; all are welcome. The table set, the food ready, and everyone hungering for the great celebration of giving thanks! The table's shape does not matter; all are equal: young or old, rich or poor, healthy or sick. Mindful of each person's differences, every person at the table has her/his needs met. Of course there are no perfect people at this table; everyone brings who they are, all their experiences of varied relationships to this celebration of giving thanks. The grandmother/grandfather, mother/father, aunt/uncle prepared this meal with such great love for each person. The inviter, the welcomer, the preparer, completely and totally rejoices in all present at the table.

Now imagine a global table where the Holy Spirit, like a mother, the inviter, the preparer, the welcomer, the lover, completely, totally, perfectly rejoices in all people present at the global table. We are totally and completely enfolded in the perfect loving embrace of our Mother, our Sister, the Spirit. Very simply, justice is expressed and experienced in relationship with the Holy Spirit and all of creation at the global table.

IHM Justice

Our IHM core value of justice, charges us to live in relationship with our sisters and brothers as we—stand with, defend and empower those who are denied full human dignity. Inflamed with love and truth, our call is a legacy we live and give to our world. We best rewrite injustice through contemplation, by writing letters to those who are able to influence and change systems that impoverish our sisters and brothers, and to publicly take a corporate stance.

Gospel Mandate

In the Gospel of Mathew, Jesus compels us to build relationships with our sisters and brothers; we are mandated to be charitable by giving food and clothing. Jesus' example of welcoming the stranger, the marginalized and visiting those who are sick and imprisoned are also mandates of Gospel love. It is only then that we receive nourishment and a welcome at the Heavenly banquet table. Charity and Justice are necessary, as we bridge relationships at the Holy Spirit's global table.


Relationships—the underpinning of our Bishops Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching reminds us:

A society is just when every person has his or her basic needs met and the opportunity to realize his or her human potential, to flourish. The litmus test of the justice of a society is the condition of the poor and the marginalized people (Economic Justice for All #68-95).

The Gospel, our core value of justice, and our brother bishops' definition of justice offer us a rich template, on which all people create and experience justice lived in the context of relationships.

Justice's Beginning

Our story of healthy, balanced relationships, our story of justice and holiness, begins at the inception of the universe. With Elizabeth Johnson, in her book, Women, Earth, and Creator Spirit, let us

consider the story of the universe, which originated fifteen billion years ago from a single point. Starhawk describes the elegance of what happened: 'Out of the point, the swelling; out of the swelling the egg; out of the egg, the fire; out of the fire, the stars.' The so-called Big Bang is the wellspring that poured out matter and energy in an unimaginable act of creation. This material expanded according to a very precisely calibrated rate, neither too fast nor too slow, in an unfurling that is still going on (p.32).

Universe's expansion, its continual stretching and reaching beyond the human imagination, fearlessly reveals the Gospel call to explore and to expand our inner landscape, the landscape of our spirits, our hearts, our relationships. Therefore, justice stretches us toward new spaces within the human heart and within the human experience. The very blood that pulses through our bodies contains atoms of iron, present in that single point, which expanded and multiplied in that first explosion of love, fifteen billion years ago. We are the effect of God's magnanimous love, contained in the reality of an ever-evolving universe. We are one; all of creation connected in one "Web of Life," as Chief Seattle imaged. Elizabeth Johnson shares that even

The genetic structure of cells in our bodies is remarkably similar to the cells in other creatures, bacteria, grasses, fish, horses, the great gray whales. We have all evolved from common ancestors and are kin in this shared, unbroken genetic history (p.35).

One with stars, earth, all creatures that ever lived on this planet, with each other, we carry the signature of our Creator in our blood and in being the beloved of God, with all of creation. Every attitude, every word we utter impacts this wonderful creation. Let me illustrate what I mean when I say—every attitude, every word we utter impacts this wonderful creation!

Relationships With Nature

Emoto, a Japanese scientist, created a fascinating experiment with our sister—water. Please look at the four pictures of water on your paper. Each droplet was exposed to words, attitudes, or music. The first picture in the top left corner was exposed to the harsh vibrations of heavy metal music. The picture on the top right exposed to words of appreciation, love, and gratitude, formed a beautiful crystal snowflake. The picture on the bottom left, our sister water, exposed to the music of Mozart formed a similar crystal snowflake. And the final picture of our sister water exposed to words rooted in the attitude of shame and horror, "You make me sick. I will kill you." Notice the brown water—disorganized, discolored, and polluted. Emoto's experiments clearly display the relational nature of creation. You can view more of his pictures on line by Googling Emoto. Seventy-five percent of our body is water; Cellular changes occur as we experience words, music, art, and attitudes.

Thick and Thin Religion

Krista Tippett, interviews many of today's wisdom figures on (NPR) National Public Radio. You can access many of her talks on the internet through NPR. One Sunday she interviewed Miroslav Volf, a Croatian American Theologian, who describes

religion that justifies violence as thin religion. Religion reduced to a formula. Thin religion also becomes manipulable. It comes to look like ideology.

Thin religion is myopic; it is fundamentalist in nature. Thin religion is about church once a week, then drawing lines and boundaries along borders and keeping everything in its place. Thin religion provides a permeable security, which will eventually be destroyed after spending an exorbitant amount of economic resources while all along, exploiting our youth.

Thick religion experiences the depth of the textiles of religion. This experience is drawn from sacred books, rituals, rich traditions, contemplation, attitudes of inclusiveness and ever expansiveness. Thick religion views God's house as actually,

God's heart, which has many rooms. It can embrace everything. It is wide, unpetty, open and [adverse] to all that is factional, fundamentalistic and ideological. It is a heart that does not divide things up according to ours and theirs (Ronald Rolheiser's Forgotten Among the Lilies p. 223).

Thick religion is aware of systems that impoverish others and takes action to eliminate anything that diminishes another. Thick religion is a spirituality of relationships at the global table. All are invited, nourished, welcomed, and totally, completely, and lovingly embraced by the Holy Spirit, who nurtures and holds us like a mother.


Mindful of the Holy Spirit's global table, we mourn that our sisters and brothers are denied full human dignity behind walls, tall fences, and systems. Experiencing an overwhelming sense of separateness, impoverishment, and isolation, our sisters and brothers, who share the same stardust, the same beginnings, containing the same ancestral genes, depend on us to expand as Jesus did. Jesus' emptying, his expanding His inner borders and continually migrating within the landscape of our souls, calls us to justice by using the most powerful arms available to humanity: prayer, a pen, and the power of a healthy, balanced community who stands with, defends and empowers those who are denied full human dignity. Therefore let us together. . .

Act justly, think justice, be just—in relationship with our sisters and brothers as we "build a table and tear down the wall! Christ is our host. There is room for us all!" Lori True