Some of you may be familiar with Sr. Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun, author, theologian and speaker. Over the years at St. Paul’s, we have read some of her works during various adult classes. Below, I have included an excerpt from Sr. Joan that appeared in Oneing, a publication of the Center for Action and Contemplation. The name of the publication comes from an idea expressed by Julian of Norwich, who says “The love of God creates in us such a oneing that when it is truly seen, no person can separate themselves from another person” and “In the sight of God all humans are oned, and one person is all people and all people are in one person.” Taking that thought, Sr. Joan writes the following.
As a people, we are at a crossover moment. It is a call to all of us to be our best, our least superficial, our most serious about what it means to be a Christian as well as a citizen. . . .Where in the midst of such polarization and national disunity is even the hope of oneing, of integrating the social with what we say are our spiritual selves? . . .
Even the ghost of an answer makes serious spiritual demands on us all: To heal such division means that we are obliged to search out and identify our own personal value system. It requires us to admit to ourselves what it is that really drives our individual social decisions, our votes, our political alliances. Is it the need to look powerful? The desire for personal control? . . . Do we have the courage to confront the debased with the ideal—even in the face of ridicule and recrimination—or is cowardice our secret spiritual sickness? In that case, our national health can only get worse.
[We must] make “Love one another as I have loved you” (see John 13:34) the foundation of national respect, the standard of our national discernment, the bedrock of both our personal relationships and a civilized society. . . .
To be one, we don’t need one party, one program, one set of policies. What could be duller, more stagnant, more destructive of the soulfulness it takes to create and preserve the best of the human enterprise than such a narrow-minded view of planetary life? What we need is one heart for the world at large, a single-minded commitment to this “more perfect union,” and one national soul, large enough to listen to one another for the sake of the planet—for the sake of us all.
So where can we look for oneing in the political arena? Only within the confines of our own hearts. Politics—government—does not exist for itself and, if it does, that is precisely when it becomes at least death-dealing if not entirely evil. . . .
In the end, politics is nothing more than an instrument of social good and human development. It is meant to be the right arm of those whose souls have melted into God.
Joan Chittister, “A Moment for Something More Soulful Than Politics,” “Politics and Religion,” Oneing, vol. 5, no. 2 (CAC Publishing: 2017), 30, 32, 33, 34.