By Ilia Delio
Published: September 2015
Book Report by: Janet Hauter
To read a synopsis and other reviews on Amazon, click HERE.
Ilia Delio, best-selling author, nun and visiting professor at Georgetown University as well as Director of the Catholic Studies Program with multiple doctorates in pharmacology and historical theology. She is nothing short of amazing and is in no way the prototypical nun I ever knew. My husband and I first heard her speak at a Richard Rohr conference last year and saw her in action. Listening to her is like listening to someone at jet-speed speaking profoundly while your brain is at bicycle speed. That prompted the purchase of the book.
Concepts that drove her to write it are that our faith is linked to cosmology and the world serves as the context for being conscious of the “whole” around us. She cites the advantages of this perspective because she sees it offering new ways of thinking and speaking about the “wholeness” of being Catholic. It is a “heady” book that, at least for me, challenges me to the core to pause now and again to digest what I read and put it in perspective.
She shocks me into new realities as I take her words and see where they might apply to my life. John and I took in a homeless man who was a dear friend some time back who came to Chicago seeking employment while living with friend after friend. He has lived with us for a little over a year. His “gift” to us has been making us remarkably aware of the world about us. He loves to gather friends around bonfires for conversation and fellowship; he loves to walk the yard in his bare feet to let the earth speak to him; he points out the names and shapes of the moon for the night; he defines the flying creatures over our home. Having lived in this home for 25 years, I tended to crisis after crisis but never saw any of this and how blessed I am now! My world is richer; this relationship is richer; I have developed a new understanding for the cosmos, the needs of a larger reality right here in River City! Ooops, now onto the book…got carried away.
She sees the inter-relatedness of our selves and the universe in a very complementary way. This is not an uncommon position. Actually it is the heart of Pope Francis’ book, Laudato Si positing our need to care for the Earth as our home. She sees “an intrinsic wholeness at the heart of life yearning to become more whole in and through the human person.” Unity bonded in love is at the essence of this relationship with the earth.
She boldly states new church leadership wanting to breathe in a new spirit of Catholicism must be ready to deal with our disconnected, destructive and divisive world. She is seeing a growing irrelevance in institutional religion.
In our last newsletter, I demonstrated the difference between open and closed systems of organizations and she picks up on that theme too. She says, “Religion, too, develops best when its doctrines are not abstract and fixed in an ancient past but integrated into the wider stream of life. Are you listening, Cardinal Burke? She courageously points out that science and religion are intimately connected and she cites Einstein’s comment that “science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind.”
Since Pope Francis was a scientist and thinks using the scientific method, these premises would be appealing to him. He wants unity with people of faith because unity offers meaning to our lives and as Dileo points out, “the consequent of unity is LOVE”.
As I read this book marveling at what this tiny woman knows and how she blends seemingly un-blendable issues, I ask myself, “How many times can the Spirit bonk us over the head before we get it?” Delio says we were created to give meaning to things making us “meaning makers” and we most often do that through stories as Jesus did. Reflecting on Jesus’ parables most were about making people whole and she says that looking to science and faith together can ultimately make the cosmos whole.
When Catholicism shrunk to the level of obeying laws and narrowly defined our faith with punitive effects, our faith became small. Our concept of God became small and definitive. The cosmos on the other hand is dynamic, ever changing and ever growing so how could our faith be locked in a black-and-white box of certitude? Our God is bigger and more loving than we could ever imagine and he has given us one another to journey together because as she says, “Life is about relationships; justice is about relationships; peace is about relationships; love is about relationships.”
I leave you with this thought that Delio lays out for us: “Every choice in the present creates the future. To put on the mind of Christ is to know the power within us to create the future, the power to evolve into a new unity, a new oneness in love through a unified, Christic consciousness.”
I leave you with those thought inviting us all to become Resurrection Catholics in this Season of Easter!