By Sister Terri MacKenzie, SHCJ
Once again this year I have written material for group use during Advent and Lent. These programs are meant to help participants grow in understanding God’s presence and action is us and in our world and deepen responses to new scientific insights about creation.
Advent: Incarnational Spirituality in the Light of the New Universe Story is written for Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ), Associates, and friends. Others are welcome to use it, but will notice that it’s directed to the family of Cornelia Connelly (Foundress of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus). This material follows the Scriptures for Advent 2011. Click here to download. The SHCJ Theology Committee will provide material for our Epiphany retreat that will be distributed later. The Advent and Epiphany materials are meant to complement one another.
Lent: This year’s Lent material focuses on air. Denial of air pollution and global warming is growing each year in the U.S., and the resulting damage is hurting all of creation. This denial often results from thinking of these issues as political rather than as religious. Renewing the Face of the Earth: Lenten Reflections on Air aims to assist believers in deepening their faith-filled understanding of these matters.
The Scriptural and metaphorical aspects of Air were a pleasure for me to explore; more challenging was understanding the history and composition of air. I was very fortunate to find a scientist who helped me understand the concepts and avoid both over-simplifying and over-confusing readers.
Starting with quotes from Scripture, material includes poetry, a summary of the Vatican’s “Report by the Working Group Commissioned by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences” on global warming, and a final prayer service.
Hoping it could be listed somewhere, I sent Air to, e.g., the Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Office in Rome, Sisters of Earth, and the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale. I am astonished by the positive responses! JPIC Rome listed all the SHCJ Advent and Lent resources as “excellent”; the Zygon Center for Religion and Science in Chicago said of Air: “It’s thoughtfully conceived, helpfully organized, and attractively illustrated, and I am moved by the blending of Christian tradition, interfaith perspectives, and scientific content.” My favorite reply came from the Justice Education Office, Archdiocese of Chicago: “I thank God for the Charism of your religious community . . . .”
The material has eco-friendly “packaging” and can be downloaded free.