Brother Sabas Dominic Ruegg, F.S.C., emeritus professor of Sacred Scripture and Classical Languages and former academic vice-president of Saint Mary’s College, turned 100 years of age on August 30th. At a luncheon in his honor, Brother Dominic looked to the future more than to the past, inspiring his listeners with words full of the theological virtues.
Brother Sabas Dominic Ruegg, F.S.C.
Sometime in the 1950s Brother Brendan Madden urged me to read The Phenomenon of Man by Teilhard de Chardin. I did not understand much, but I was taken by his positive vision of the future and his question “How do the outstanding discoveries of science affect our Christian life, spirituality and theology?” His ideas have been enlarged upon by several authors, like Sister Elizabeth Johnson, John Haught, Thomas Berry, John Haight, Jack Mahoney and others.
Two great scientific discoveries have completely changed our view of the world: evolutionary biology and the immensity of the cosmos. We can trace evolution backwards. About four billion years ago an astounding mutation took place life appeared and another even more astounding just a short few 100,000 years ago our species appeared with consciousness. We now can know, discover, and love.
And then came the Hubble Telescope with its pictures. We know that our solar system is but a small protrusion of the galaxy of the Milky Way, but beyond our galaxy there are millions of other galaxies each with billions of stars. Old stars are dying, new ones are being formed, mysterious black holes formed. And this immense cosmos is expanding.
This grand evolutionary process throughout the entire cosmos tells us that this universe is unfinished, God is still creating, Jesus is till redeeming and the Spirit is still sanctifying. And we, though an infinitesimal part of the nature of the cosmos, we can participate by being co-creators with God.
How do we do that? The answer lies in a main theme of all religions and especially in the life of Jesus. His life can be summed up in “Love your neighbor.” To love one’s family (my Brothers); to love one’s friends (our wonderful caretakers); to love all of nature for we have evolved with the trees, the streams, the animals, the birds, and even the gold fish; to love one’s self; and, the most difficult of all, to love one’s enemies, to do good to those who persecute us, to pray for those who hate us – and do so with love, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, and patience. These are positive and creative.
The opposite are negative feelings such as grudges, anger, jealousy, envy. These are not creative, but destructive to ourselves and to the universe.
So we have the great privilege to participate in a very small way by our own ordinary lives in the Providence of God as God continues creating this unfinished universe.
The evolutionary process is created by God as a dynamic, purposeful force. Where it will go in the future is absolutely unpredictable; but one can dream what it might be. Look for a moment at history and the punishment for criminals just few hundred years ago, when a boy of ten, who was starving, stole a loaf of bread and was hanged; people accused of witchery were burned at the stake or boiled in oil; and those accused of treason were hanged, drawn, and quartered.
Slavery is no longer, yet in New Testament times no one thought of freeing all slaves since slavery was a normal part of the culture.
More recently the world saw the great non-violent movements led by Gandhi, King, and Mandela, spiritually powerful but also politically powerful. There is great hope for the human race. As co-creators with God each can contribute a very small bit and eventually bring about the new heaven and the new earth promised by Jesus.
So here at Mont La Salle with a community of wonderful Brothers there is a new sense of interior freedom and a deeper happiness than in the past. This is the fresh green pasture to which the Good Shepherd has led us. Thanks be to God!
photo credits: Brother Charles & Wikimedia Commons