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opinion/commentary View Comments

We Should Celebrate Darwin
By Sister Paula Gonzalez, S.C., Ph.D.
Source: St. Anthony Messenger
Published: Tuesday, November 24, 2009
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Many scientists since Darwin's time have realized that scientific searching can result in the awesome realization that creation is an ongoing process, set in motion by an Eternal Creator.

In 1881, only 10 years after Darwin published The Descent of Man, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was born in France. After extensive study of hominid fossils and early human societies, this Jesuit paleontologist in 1938 completed his most important work, The Phenomenon of Man. His religious superiors found his thinking unorthodox and forbade him to publish.

After Teilhard's death in 1955, many of his works began to be translated and published. He originated the concept that humans are a phenomenon of Earth's evolutionary adventure, which is moving toward the Omega Point, the Cosmic Christ. The influence of Teilhard's ideas has been far-reaching because very early he integrated broad scientific knowledge with a deep sensitivity to religious values.

At vespers on July 24, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI preached about God's power and goodness. He said: "The role of the priesthood is to consecrate the world so that it may become a living host, a liturgy: so that the liturgy may not be something alongside the reality of the world, but that the world itself shall become a living host, a liturgy. This is also the great vision of Teilhard de Chardin: In the end we shall achieve a true cosmic liturgy, where the cosmos becomes a living host."

Influenced by Teilhard's work, the late Thomas Berry, a Passionist priest who called himself a geologian, recently has provided our 21st-century world with timely wisdom. His agreement with Teilhard's idea that "we must consciously will the further stages of the evolutionary process" is clear in Berry's major book, The Great Work: Our Way Into the Future.

As a cultural historian, he was eminently qualified to state: "Natural selection can no longer function as it has in the past. Cultural selection is now a decisive force in determining the future of the biosystems of the Earth."

To a large extent, the further development of the human family in what Berry described as the "sacred Earth community"—the entire created universe—is in our hands.

Our times require that all of us appreciate our part in this great work of cocreation. As Father Berry explained in 1999, "The Great Work now, as we move into a new millennium, is to carry out the transition from a period of human devastation to a period when humans would be present to the planet in a mutually beneficent manner. We cannot doubt that we too have been given the intellectual vision, the spiritual insight and even the physical resources we need for carrying out this transition."

The evolutionary adventure continues!

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Sister Paula Gonzalez, S.C., Ph.D., taught biology at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio, for 20 years. An environmentalist, she is a cofounder and board member of Ohio Interfaith Power and Light. A presenter of many workshops and retreats in the United States and Canada, she lives in a former chicken barn that is solar-heated.



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Joseph Calasanz: 
		<p>From Aragon, where he was born in 1556, to Rome, where he died 92 years later, fortune alternately smiled and frowned on the work of Joseph Calasanz. A priest with university training in canon law and theology, respected for his wisdom and administrative expertise, he put aside his career because he was deeply concerned with the need for education of poor children.</p>
		<p>When he was unable to get other institutes to undertake this apostolate at Rome, he and several companions personally provided a free school for deprived children. So overwhelming was the response that there was a constant need for larger facilities to house their effort. Soon Pope Clement VIII gave support to the school, and this aid continued under Pope Paul V. Other schools were opened; other men were attracted to the work and in 1621 the community (for so the teachers lived) was recognized as a religious community, the Clerks Regular of Religious Schools (Piarists or Scolopi). Not long after, Joseph was appointed superior for life.</p>
		<p>A combination of various prejudices and political ambition and maneuvering caused the institute much turmoil. Some did not favor educating the poor, for education would leave the poor dissatisfied with their lowly tasks for society! Others were shocked that some of the Piarists were sent for instruction to Galileo (a friend of Joseph) as superior, thus dividing the members into opposite camps. Repeatedly investigated by papal commissions, Joseph was demoted; when the struggle within the institute persisted, the Piarists were suppressed. Only after Joseph’s death were they formally recognized as a religious community.</p>
American Catholic Blog The Church’s motherhood is a spiritual reality that profoundly affects the lives of believers. In fact, the famous convert to Catholicism Cardinal John Henry Newman once said that it was through his reading and encounter with the Church of the Fathers that “I found my spiritual Mother.”

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