The following is only a portion of Sr. Brink’s speech before the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (2007) national conference. The remainder of her talk may be seen at the link at the bottom of this post. The comments in red are mine:
The dynamic option for Religious Life, which I am calling, Sojourning, is much more difficult to discuss, since it involves moving beyond the Church, even beyond Jesus. [Beyond Christ? To political?] A sojourning congregation is no longer ecclesiastical. [It is ideological?] It has grown beyond the bounds of institutional religion. Its search for the Holy may have begun rooted in Jesus as the Christ, but deep reflection, study and prayer have opened it up to the spirit of the Holy [What?] in all of creation.
Religious titles, institutional limitations, ecclesiastical authorities no longer fit this congregation, which in most respects is Post-Christian. [The Redeemed World that knows Christ will never be “post-Christian.”] When religious communities embraced the spirit of renewal in the 1970s [Is this when the problem commenced? Is this the spirit that St. Paul speaks about in 2 Thess. 2?] they took seriously that the world was no longer the enemy, that a sense of ecumenism required encountering the holy “other,” and that the God of Jesus might well be the God of Moses and the God of Mohammed.
The works of Thomas Merton encouraged an exploration of the nexus between Eastern and Western religious practices. [Thomas Merton may have tried to synthesize the East and West but it was not his intent to “move beyond Jesus.”] The emergence of the women’s movement with is concomitant critique of religion invited women everywhere to use a hermeneutical lens of suspicion when reading the androcentric Scriptures and the texts of the Tradition. [It gathered a sense of rebellion.] With a new lens, women also began to see the divine within nature, the value and importance of the cosmos, and that the emerging new cosmology encouraged their spirituality and fed their souls. [Is this the “new cosmology” of a ‘new age,’ and sees humankind as on par with creation?]
As one sister described it, “I was rooted in the story of Jesus, and it remains at my core, but I’ve also moved beyond Jesus.” The Jesus narrative is not the only or the most important narrative for these women. They still hold up and reverence the values of the Gospel, but they also recognize that these same values are not solely the property of Christianity. Buddhism, Native American spirituality, Judaism, Islam and others hold similar tenets for right behavior within the community, right relationship with the earth and right relationship with the Divine. [Do they truly believe in Christ? All traditions have some truth attached to it; but it is full in Christ?] With these insights come a shattering or freeing realization—depending on where you stand. Jesus is not the only son of God. Salvation is not limited to Christians. Wisdom is found in the traditions of the Church as well as beyond it. [With all this, why do we need Christ? Why not the Gospel of the New Cosmology as embodied in the Earth Charter?]
“The Marginal Life: Pursuing Holiness in the 21st Century” byLaurie Brink, O.P.; LCWR Keynote Address, Kansas City, MO, August 2, 2007.