People concerned about climate change often consider it a scientific, agricultural, or socio-economic problem, but there is another essential angle to consider: that of religion and spirituality. The late Fr. Thomas Berry (1914-2009) — a Passionist priest and scholar who profoundly shaped the Catholic ecology movement — believed we can access forces that protect our environment from harm. “We live immersed in a sea of energy beyond all comprehension,” he wrote in The Great Work. “But this energy, in an ultimate sense, is ours not by domination but by invocation.”
Berry’s wisdom is the focus of a new online retreat, “Thomas Berry: Prophet and Mystic of the Earth,” debuting in July. “We know our website visitors are concerned about the Earth,” explains Mary Ann Brussat, co-director of Spirituality & Practice. “Spiritual practices are the best ways to demonstrate kindness and courtesy toward the Earth, to express our gratitude and wonder, and to yield to the mystery and the beauty of it all. That’s why we asked Kathleen Deignan, CND, to create a new e-course integrating ecological concern with spiritual practice.”
A theologian, author, and sacred song writer, Deignan considers Fr. Berry to have been her mentor and one of the great inspirations of her ministry. She welcomes the opportunity to do another online retreat with Spirituality & Practice after her e-course on “Thomas Merton’s Abiding Legacy” last summer drew the avid interest of hundreds of participants. Like the Merton course, the new Thomas Berry retreat will offer passages for reflection and insights into their relevance today, as well as opportunities to discuss them in a Practice Circle.
Deignan is Professor of Religious and Environmental Studies at Iona College in New York. She received her master’s degree in the History of Christian Spirituality and her doctorate in Historical Theology from Fordham University, where she studied with Fr. Berry. After his death, she co-founded The Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue, with other students of Thomas, among them her ministry colleague, Brother Kevin Cawley, CFC, also a GreenFaith Fellow and currently the Executive Director of the Thomas Berry Forum. He will co-animate this retreat and bring his own comprehensive insight and global perspective to what Thomas Berry called The Great Work of our time: healing the human soul that we might heal the Earth.
“Thomas Berry: Prophet and Mystic of the Earth with Kathleen Deignan and Kevin Cawley” will run for four weeks starting July 4. Full details on the course are available at www.SpiritualityandPractice.com/ThomasBerryOnlineRetreat.
SpiritualityandPractice.com is a multifaith website on ways to practice spirituality in everyday life. More than 140 e-courses and online retreats have been offered since the website was launched in 2006. Participants report that one of the most powerful elements of the experience have been the Practice Circles, where people from around the world quickly develop into a spiritual community offering each other support on their journeys.
In addition to e-courses and retreats, SpiritualityandPractice.com has more than 40,000 pages of free content, including more than 6,000 book reviews and 4,500 book excerpts, as well as another 6,000 film and audio reviews. The entire website is organized around 37 essential spiritual practices common to the world’s religions.
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