This little-known periodical with the uninspiring name is my favorite spiritual reading. The primary audience is women religious - but there's very little that doesn't speak to me, a married mother.
Often I post quotes from Occasional Papers on our Facebook page. But that doesn't convey the cumulative power of each of the articles in its 32 8x10 pages. So here's a pile of quotes from a single article in the Summer 2013 issue. If you want to order the Winter issue on the Cosmic Story, mail your order form quickly.
From Encountering the Holy Spirit - an interview with Donald Goergen, OP, by LCWR's gifted Sister Annmarie Sanders, IHM.
"It doesn't make any difference how fast you're going if you're headed in the wrong direction."
"Being contemplative allows us to be instruments of the Holy Spirit. So when we hear people say that they desire to live more contemplatively, this doesn't mean they want a quiet life or a pain-free life removed from all the tensions and stresses. Living contemplatively means being more deeply grounded in God. It is standing back from the ways in which we serve the world through all the ministries that we do and taking a look at how we let the Spirit breathe and move through us. Of course, this raises the question of how do we know that something is of the Spirit, and not just from myself."
"Diminishment in numbers has required that we become conscious that the essence of religious life is less about what we do than who we are. What does it mean to be contemplative in a very frenetic world?... What does it mean to simply offer a holy presence?... Take a look at this modern, busy, efficient, consumerist society and ask what it would mean to embody God's presence in the midst of it."
"In the course of my personal life, what space do I give to the Holy Spirit? We can get caught up - for very good reasons - in our own agendas, our own theologies, and our own deepest convictions that we have formed through experience over decades. But how can we still remain so malleable or flexible to hear the Holy Spirit say that there is something new happening? Whether we are progressive or conservative - and I don't think that language really works for us anymore - we can get so tied into that which gives us an identity and a meaning in life that, while the Holy Spirit can still use us, it may not be as fully or as totally."
"We have to realize that diversity is a gift of the Holy Spirit as well - and that includes theological diversity. We might not always recognize that as a gift institutionally in the church and it is easy for us to say when we think another person should think as we do. Karl Rahner, in response to a question he was asked, said that some persons in the church may be given the charism to be an accelerator, while others may be given the charism to be a brake. It can be hard for those who are the accelerators to see what value there is in a brake, and vice versa. So the challenge is to open ourselves more and more to the different calls in the life of the church. Hardness enters in when we discover bitterness or divisiveness or a kind of enduring anger that we cannot heal. Those are the things that from wherever or whoever they come, are not of the Holy Spirit."
"I would like to define the church as a sphere of influence of the Holy Spirit. Irenaeus, the second-century great theologian, once said, 'Where the Spirit is, there is the church; and where the church is, there is the Spirit.'" [This whole section, on the identity and integrity of the church, is magnificent but too long to quote here.]
"One of the avenues in which the Spirit speaks is through members [of the church or a religious congregation]... We have an obligation to speak and to listen and it is important to ask: To whom do I listen? With whom do I interact? How wide is the circle of voices that I hear? Do I listen mostly to those who think like myself? To what degree is my voice out there in some way?"
"'It's hard to see the whole picture when you are inside the frame.' It is good to have this perspective - to remember that we never see the whole picture, but the Holy Spirit does."
"I suppose our faith can be formed at a certain period and then become fossilized so that how I understood Jesus Christ when I was in fifth grade, or in college, or when I was 40 or 60 remains unchanged. If I haven't thought theologically since I was in college, then that is where my faith stays even though my understanding of politics, science, and other disciplines might have been transformed many times."
"An important question is the one Jesus raises in the Gospels: 'Who do you say that I am?' There is the earthly, prophetic, human, divine Jesus of Nazareth, but there is also the Christ. That historical, incarnate embodiment of the Christ is revelatory of who Christ is. It is not that Christ is something other than that. Christ is that - and more."
These are a few gems from only one of the six articles in the last issue. Order one copy - try it yourself. I'm betting you'll find it fuel for your spirit, as I do.