Cosmic Mass

The Cosmic Mass: A New Generation

(Reblogged with permission from Inquire Within) The Cosmic Mass began as an intergenerational co-creation between Matthew Fox and a group of visionary young people from Sheffield, England. Now, as it continues its resurgence as a monthly event in Oakland, CA and environs, Matthew Fox's co-creation is being carried on in a new generation.

In this Podcast Dr. Fox and the current director of the Oakland TCM, Skylar Wilson, join Darren Main on the online radio show Inquire Within to talk about Creation Spirituality and the next generation of The Cosmic Mass.

Lorna Byrne and Unemployed Angels

Matthew Fox writes of his experience celebrating a Cosmic Mass of the Angels and later conversing with angelologist Lorna Byrne.... An Encounter with a Very Special Woman

Lately I have been reading, or better re-reading, the classic work The Psychology of Consciousness by Robert Ornstein and his more recent study The Evolution of Consciousness. Also Peter Russell's book, From Science to God: A Physicist's Journey into the Mystery of Consciousness. I have been doing this in prep for a sit-down with Rupert Sheldrake, the brilliant though heretical (among science's priestly establishment) British biologist as we are working on a book together on Spirituality and Consciousness.

But also I had the privilege the past week to spend several hours with Lorna Byrne, some in private conversation, some in the public setting of the Celebration of a Cosmic Mass of the Angels held at Sofia University in Palo Alto, and several rich hours interviewing Lorna before a very attentive and diverse gathering of many hundreds of persons at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. That interview was filmed and will shortly be made available on a DVD from my non-profit, Friends of Creation Spirituality.

Lorna Byrne challenges all of us who seek a saving and expanded consciousness to grow our minds and hearts and souls.

Lorna, for those who do not know her, is a person who any scientist serious about studying our potential as a species should be studying. Lorna is an Irish peasant woman, a woman of the sod who with her now deceased husband Joe raised four children on a very poor plot of land in rural Ireland. Lorna is illiterate having been dyslexic her entire life and pretty much shunned by the ordinary educational establishment during her growing up years. She is a grandmother and a widow, her beloved husband having died about six years ago. Her sense of humor, her grace, her normalcy, her struggles as a mother (her family was so poor they often had neither gifts nor food for Christmas) and wife (Joe was frequently ill and unable to work), all point to an every-day woman with feet very much on the earth. She talks of foraging for carrots and potatoes in the Irish sod to feed her children on a regular basis.

Lorna also has been visited by angels since she was a child. Her very first memory dates to the age of two when she was looking up to see her parents and she saw their guardian angels behind them. She regularly sees guardian angels and many other angels and wonders how strange it is that so few others do not have these experiences. Since she was given permission six years ago by the angels to let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, and to come out of the closet with her angel visitations she has dictated three books which have become best sellers and been translated into twenty-six languages, including Angels in My Hair; Stairways to Heaven; and A Message of Hope from the Angels.

At our Cosmic Mass Lorna informed me as we were preparing to open the doors for the attendees to arrive that the place was already packed with angels. At the Grace Cathedral interview I began by asking her if she observed angels in the place: “Oh, yes,” she said. There were multitudes of them, many still streaming in through the doors and one taller than the main door at the entrance (which must be at least thirty feet high in the vast Gothic Cathedral where we gathered after an introduction from Episcopal Bishop Mark Andrus).

She described what many of them were wearing and she talked of “many unemployed angels.” “What is an unemployed angel?” I asked, “I know many persons who are unemployed today, but angels?” She replied: “God is pouring lots and lots of angels onto earth these days to assist us humans but many are unemployed—people are ignoring them and not asking them for help.”

Lorna not only asks angels for help on a regular basis and by offering personal blessings to people who come to hear her speak or be interviewed but the angels apparently ask her for help as well. When she was ten years old angel Michael told her she would one day write a famous book. She simply laughed since she could neither read nor write nor imagine being a writer. But Michael was right. She is spreading the word from the angels.

And what is that word? It is to “wake up” she tells us. To get over religious rivalries and wars and nonsense about “ours is the only way to God.” She has visited mosques and seen angels there accompanying Mosque attendees in their prayer and worship and the guardian angels of Muslims with them; she has attended synagogues and seen angels with the attendees there; Buddhists; Hindus; Christians and, indigenous peoples and Yes! Atheists too. Angels precede all the faith traditions. They are bound to none. We should move beyond denominationalism just as they do. Respect the traditions but also move beyond them.

Lorna and the angels are well aware of the danger our species is in today from war and violence and hatred and envy and of course how we are endangering the beauty and health of the planet as we know it for generations to come. This is why her message is about Waking Up. She tells us that while not judging us, since angels' love is “unconditional,” angels nevertheless are disappointed that humans have not evolved further and faster than we have. Our spirituality and our wisdom falls far short of our needs. While conscious of evil and able to name it (she does use the term “Satan” but on her own terms and is open to other language about evil), she does not like to speak about it because she feels evil already steals the headlines and it getting so much of the attention of the press—which is what it seeks before all else. What better way to depress humanity so that it does not stand up for its own beauty and God-like-ness than to give evil all the attention?

Lorna sees souls of persons and the image she encounters for the human soul is that of a spark. “Our soul is like a piece of thread in my skirt,” she says, “a thread of God.” The soul is an alive and wondrous spark. I could not help to make the connection with the great fourteenth century mystic, Meister Eckhart, who talks often about the “spark of the soul” (ancilla animae) that is the “uncreated” apex of the soul where we birth God and where the Holy Spirit is at work. Eckhart credits the Muslim philosopher Avicenna many times for this naming of the spark and the soul. Rumi and other Sufi poets celebrate the soul as spark as does the Jewish mystical work, the Kaballah.

But Lorna has not read Eckhart or Rumi or Avicenna or the Kaballah. She has simply been opening her eyes and found the same phenomenon. This spark she assures us “is eternal”, it does not go out (Eckhart said the same). We do live forever and its beauty she tells us is beyond words. Also, angels do not have souls—they are pure spirits. Only humans have this wondrous likeness to God that shines incessantly.

Psychologists stumble over the term “soul” (even though the etymological meaning of their science is the study of the soul) and Lorna's image and naming may assist them. Look for the spark. Dust it off. Let it flourish and burn fully.

Lorna often sees the energy fields, the colors, the heat and waves emitted from flowers and trees as well as rocks—when I asked her about this she pointed to the large pillars in the Gothic Cathedral where we gathered—“I see now the colors and heat emanating from these,” she said. It is one thing for scientists to tell us this is what is happening; it is still another to know that some of us are already seeing it on a daily basis.

Lorna teaches a familiar teaching that the primary work of our guardian angels is to “take us home” at death and she has been present for a number of such journeys from this world to another.

Lorna speaks of the Angel of America and that America, while falling short of its pronounced values in so many ways, has a unique and important role to play in the new spirituality. This because Americans are a creative people and because in America there is more interfaith and interspirituality going on than in any nation on earth.

Lorna says she no longer identifies as “Roman Catholic” but simply as “Catholic” but that even that is within the wide scope of the spirit trying to break through in all the world's religions and in atheism also. In her book, Angels in My Hair, she writes: “When a prayer comes from the depths of our being it is incredibly powerful, and a person's religion or creed doesn't come into it: God hears the prayers of all this children equally.” (156) She also pointed that prayer is extremely powerful and we never pray alone—angels are always there.

I asked her about worship and the presence of angels and she told of seeing during our Cosmic Mass what was like “an upside down waterfall” carrying energy up and down from the altar. I remarked how like Hildegard this was who spoke of seeing a “golden river” flowing up and down from the altar (she also painted a picture about it) and Lorna was excited to hear that “golden river” language from Hildegard. Lorna pointed out that many angels were genuflecting about us as we sat together at the altar sanctuary at Grace Cathedral.

Lorna has seen visions of our possible future as a species. Most of them are very positive such as the day coming when all parents will see the guardian angels of their children (might that help to still child abuse of many kinds?) and teachers seeing the guardian angels of their students (might that make for an awakened classroom?). But she has also seen images of an apocalypse which is also possible if humans refuse to wake up.

Robert Ornstein, in his book on The Evolution of Consciousness, makes the point that our brains have evolved over the eons in order that our minds can “mesh with the world.” But that his ancestral arrangement of adaptations works when the world is stable. But today “the world we adapted to is now gone” with the result that “our ancestral adaptations conflict with the needs of the modern world.” We find ourselves “overprepared” for such needs as the sexual, but “we have no basis for understanding a world of billions of people” and how our actions are causing holes in the ozone and climate change. We have undergone biological and neural and cultural evolutions but now we “need to begin a process of conscious evolution. We find unexpected allies in this arena, in modern spirituality and modern science.” (pp. 11f) Yes, and in persons like Lorna Byrne who is speaking in her way of our future evolution and undertaking it with angels at our side.

It is one thing to have written about angels as Rupert Sheldrake and I have in our book, The Physics of Angels, in which we drew on the teachings of three masters, Dennis the Aereapogyite, Hildegard of Bingen and Thomas Aquinas. It is another thing to have experienced angels (which I and many people I know have done)--but to experience them on a regular basis as Lorna does? This is a phenomenon worthy of our attention.

I told Lorna near the end of our interview at Grace Cathedral that I was going to go “out on a limb” and say what I was being prompted to say: That just as a simple woman of the sod of Israel, Mary or Miriam, who was also illiterate, heard from an angel about 2000 years ago that she was to conceive a special son, so too Laura has come in our time to announce good tidings that our species needs to hear: That is that our powers of consciousness and expansion and intuition our being woefully underutilized—we are capable of working with the angels and it is surely time.

Thomas Aquinas teaches that angels learn only through intuition. It follows that when we give the intuition its due once again we may find ourselves on a highway of hitchhiking and possibly unemployed angels who are eager for a ride. A ride where humans can take the drive of their lives—not into folly but into joy and justice, celebration and compassion. A journey into wisdom. Is that too much to ask? Ask the angels.

The Cosmic Mass Returns to Oakland, Its Birthplace

Sunday, December 1, was a big day for the Cosmic Mass (TCM) — it was our first Mass in Oakland  in several years.

Due to a shrinking of staff and resources from the economic downturn and our forced abandonment of Historic Sweets Ballroom, FCS put its energy into training others for the TCM rather than hosting it in Oakland, its birthplace, over the past several years.

But Dec 1 was a whole new beginning with a new leader—Skylar Wilson--and a new generation taking charge, with the support of Nicole Porcaro and Matthew Fox.  The theme was “The Celebration of the Body.”

The location was Kimball's, a club in downtown Oakland in the Jack London Square district and the club manager and the club owner were both impressed with the event.  A great entrance field and four fine altars were put together by volunteer teams organized by Rose Elizondo, who also directs the Yellawe Program in Oakland.

One altar was a stunning mandala of flowers and branches; another an interactive black light space where people were invited to write messages to their bodies.  Tom Stang (brother to Sister Dorothy Stang who was martyred in the Amazon for defending the peasants and rainforest there), was in attendance with his wife Darnel... Sister Dorothy, a graduate of the University of Creation Spirituality, had often attended the TCM during her days in the school.

Mural Artists Ernesto Olmos and Francisco Franco brought beautiful pieces to display: Ernesto brought his painting of “Madre Tonantzin,” and Francisco actually painted portions of his mural of “The Unveiling—the Birth of Creation” while people were entering.

Native American drumming and songs opened the night as people arrived and also opened the directions and the closing of the directions at the end.  Matt Fox offered a welcome and introduction and Joanna Macy offered the teaching. VJ Dragonfly had all dancing and sweating their prayers.  A flautist and a bass accompanied us at times, and Richard Kaplan, a cantor in a local synagogue, sang a moving Mongolian song with a Mongolian drum and words from the Kabbalah.  VJ Carol Luna sang a Hildegard song during communion to the accompaniment of Tibetan singing bowls.

The spoken word was shared by Pancho Ramos-Stierle, who is a leader in Occupy Oakland: he believes it is time for “spiritual people to become activists and activists to become spiritual."  Rabbi Michael Ziegler prayed at the table prayers for an expansion of human and religious outreach.

Responses?  One young man who drove down from Portland, Oregon said he had never danced so hard or so fully in his life, he felt the spirit taking him over.  It was striking how many young men were there—something one rarely sees in church or in spirituality workshops.  Clearly the language of dj and vj and rap is their kind of language!

One woman told me she was too moved to talk.  Another person commented how special it was to see young people in positions of leadership.  Another person said he “was in heaven.”  A number of people came forward to volunteer for the next TCM.

All told, it was a night to remember and we look forward to our next Oakland TCM coming up in February!

Holiday 2012 News from Matthew Fox & FSC

December 8, 2012

Dear Friends of Creation Spirituality,

Happy and Blessed Holidays to you all! I would like to take this time to briefly bring you up to date on some goings-on in Creation Spirituality land as some exciting prospects are blooming.

First, as regards my own writing, I was pleased that my book on Hildegard of Bingen, Hildegard of Bingen, a Saint for Our Times: Unleashing her Power for the 21st Century, came out just in time for her canonization and being named 'Doctor of the Church' in October. That was my goal when I heard about those upcoming events last January and was fortunate enough to be able to find a publisher (Namaste in Vancouver, run by a woman who said she was “on the ceiling for three days” after reading the MS and learning about Hildegard) who did a very special thing: Got the book out in six months time. I had to hole up in a cheap motel to get it done in a rush but, having lived with Hildegard for over 30 years, was able to do so. I liked the methodology I came up with, namely putting Hildegard in the room with 20th century thinkers like Einstein, Howard Thurman, Mary Oliver, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Dorothy Soelle and more. I have been urged to write similar short and pungent books with similar methodology on Meister Eckhart and Thomas Aquinas and I might just do that.

I am also happy to say that Adam Bucko and I (see www.thereciprocityfoundation.org) have finished our book on young adults and spirituality called Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation, in which we dialog on the spirituality of young people today and incorporate the wisdom of these people we have gleaned from surveys and from filming a number of leaders from around the country. The book will come out in September, on the second anniversary of Occupy, from North Atlantic Press. We are grateful to Andrew Harvey for including our book in his new series on Sacred Activism with that press; ours will be the first book in the series actually. We just got a copy of the cover two days ago.

Also pleased that The Pope's War is in paperback now, updated by a new Preface. One person very active in ecumenical work said to me recently it is a “buzz” book among his colleagues and I do know that it is getting around sort of underground as it were. Frankly I think people should read the chapter on Opus Dei before they get too optimistic about this Supreme Court taking up gay rights.

Big news on the YELLAWE front. Last year YELLAWE linked up with another program, Art Esteem, in Oakland in a high school in Oakland's West side. But beginning in January YELLAWE will be active again on its own in two schools, Fremont and Met-West. The former is in the Fruitvale and heavily Latino district; the latter is near Laney College. Our teachers are very special. In the Fremont High School our program will feature Ernesto Olmos (Google his name) who is a remarkable artist and shaman really from the Mexican Zapotec peoples. He will be leading the high schoolers in making their own musical instruments (drums and flutes) as well as playing them while bringing in the value system of the 10 C's which are so important to YELLAWE. Ernesto's credits include exhibits of his paintings and sculptures at Oakland and de Young Museums as well as international venues. A beautiful and accomplished man to have teaching inner city youth!

With him at Fremont will be Rose Elizondo who helped establish the Restorative Justice movement in Oakland and beyond. She teaches meditation and centering prayer in San Quentin (among other venues) and is a real leader in and beyond the Latina community. I met her when she was preparing to introduce me at the Call to Action Conference in Louisville a month ago — she did a powerful job and among other things brought into the room of 2000 people our UCS graduate, Sr Dorothy Stang who died a martyr having been shot in the Amazon while defending the peasants there. It turns out a brother of Dorothy's was also in the audience. I have been informed that work is afoot to create a solid movie about Dorothy and the struggle going on in the Amazon. Rose is a great leader and I am thrilled that she is joining YELLAWE and bringing other talent with her! She is also a mother of teen-age daughters.

At the Met-West program music will be the basic art form of the YELLAWE program and our instructor will be Iamani I Ameni, a hip hop artist who has also taught mindfulness and meditation among other things at the Juvenile Center in San Francisco. He brings a big heart, lots of smarts including street smarts, and experience and love in working with street youth. Google i.Ameni. When I interviewed him for the job I asked him what the youth in Detention Center taught him and he said: Character. They have strong loyalty to their tribe but we can help them to broaden their tribe and view of the world. Indeed.

Ted Richards program, Chicago Wisdom Project, which is a daughter of the YELLAWE program of which Ted was director in Oakland, is doing well in its three incarnations in the Chicago area. Ted just finished a book on reinventing education that I was happy to endorse. Keep your eye out for it!

Our director of the Cosmic Mass, Nicole Porcaro, a graduate of UCS master's program, taught a conference course this Fall on the TCM thanks to Di Wolverton and Csource and she is doing another one this Spring. Also: She got married a year ago and just gave birth to their first child, a healthy girl! I am working here in Oakland on starting up the TCM again soon and it looks like we will be able to do it on Sundays at what was Historic Sweet’s Ballroom and is now the Tropicana.

Andrew Harvey and myself, with the strong support of Susan Coppage Evans and Di Wolverton, are planning a 12-week series of weekend “Initiations” into a Cosmic Christ-based Christianity, the Christianity of the future. We call it The Christ Path and are just nailing down the venue, one which many of you will recognize, 2131 Broadway—yes the Old UCS space (the main gathering Hall only as the other rooms are offices for various community organizations now). Good vibes? Good Morphic Resonance? We expect so! Most of the weekends will have another guest lecturer to speak on Saturday nights and be in a conversation with Andrew and myself on Sunday mornings. The weekends will run Friday night; all day Saturday (afternoon will be entirely devoted to Practices!); and through Sunday afternoon. The first four we have scheduled are these: March 8-10 (with Joanna Macy), June 28-30 (with Bruce Chilton), October 11-13 (with Adam Bucko), 2013, and January 10-14, 2014 (with Brian Swimme).

Just as the “Jesus Seminars” helped to reinvent our understanding of the historical Jesus, so we intend these gatherings, with both intellectual content and ecumenical and postmodern practices, to assist a rebirth of Christianity by deepening our understanding of the Cosmic Christ. Teilhard de Chardin once complained that he couldn’t find anyone—lay person OR theologian—interested in discussing not Jesus or Christ but the Cosmic Christ. Well, we think the time is ripe. If you agree, mark your calendars and come to these initiations. OR participate by live streaming which will also be available. OR do some of both! More details will be posted on a special web page, etc. within a month.

Speaking of the Cosmic Christ, Bishop Marc Andrus and myself (he being the Episcopal bishop of California at Grace Cathedral) led a weekend retreat this Fall on the theme and together we are preparing to launch a practice of The Stations of the Cosmic Christ to balance the stations of the cross that so dominate Christian churches. The Stations we hope to hang in Grace Cathedral include M C Richard's “I am” clay tablets that hung at UCS for years and that she left me when she died along with 8 more tablets created by a contemporary artist around Cosmic Christ events in the Gospels such as Nativity, Transfiguration, Resurrection, Ascension, Pentecost, Matthew 25 and more. We hope said practice will go out from Grace Cathedral around the world just as the Labyrinth practice has.

I remain deeply indebted to the Academy for the Love of Learning in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with whom I am a "visiting scholar" and who support my work and that of YELLAWE in so many ways as they do their wonderful work reinventing education with art and creativity and more. Check out: www.academyfortheloveoflearning.com.

So there you have it. Just some of the goings-on occurring at FCS in the Bay Area. Of course there is much else going on, check out the CSC website for example. And our website at www.matthewfox.org. And I hope you are working in your own communities yourselves and feeling connected to it all.

If you can dig into your pocket and assist us with a tax-free donation we will be grateful and guarantee that it goes to the work itself, not to anything extraneous.

Peace, blessing and thanks to you all,

Matthew Fox President, FCS