Lent: Poised for Action

Ilia DelioToday we begin the season of Lent which has, traditionally, been a time of personal fasting, prayer and conversion.  While these three activities are good, they also reinforce the old religious paradigm of individual salvation.  The “I” must be purified so that one may return to God. As I reflect on our current events, the paradigm of the individual is giving way to a new paradigm of the collective self. What is the collective self?  It is the self beyond the self, the hyperpersonal self for whom identity is replaced by intensity, that is, relationships which intensify being in love.   The hyperpersonal self is the posthuman intensity of networked relationships, in which to be is to be with, to think with, to love with, to be free with; not the self that looks inward but the self’s inwardness that is outward, expressed in consciousness extending itself into other fields of shared life. The life of Jesus of Nazareth was a hyperpersonal self, a self in, with and for others, a self that was rooted in the immanent presence of God. There is a new expression of this selfless self that is being born anew in our midst, for whom gender intensity, racial and global justice intensity, earth intensity are being kindled by our networked world.  The seeds of these ideas are in my book Re-Enchanting the Earth: Why AI Needs Religion.  How does the hyperpersonal self relate to Lent?   It invites us into a new way of thinking about Lent in a chaotic, evolutionary world.

The Gospel message has never been more urgent than it is today. We are invited to stand up, open our eyes, and get the splinters out of them.  We are asked to clean out our hearts which has stored so much debris from the past and wake up. Something new is breaking into our teeter-tottering world-at-war, and those who see the new will live anew. The message of Jesus is a revolution of the heart but also an evolution of life.  The God-centered person acts from a new center of intensified being, a radical center of love that is unencumbered, free, daring, adventurous, boundary-crossing, hybrid and future-oriented. Christian life is meant to be creative, novel and future-oriented, but the packaging of this life into rigid dogmatic formulas has all but killed the spirit of terrestrial life, keeping God unrelated and unaffected by the world’s sufferings. Carl Jung spoke of religion as a ‘dead system’ imprisoned in isolated dogmatic certitudes. Religion has become a matter of the head and not of the total person.

The isolation of religion from all that comprises organic life, including matter, body, sex, feelings, emotion has been disastrous for planetary life.  Intellectual, dogmatic religion has essentially stripped the world of its soul, and without a collective soul, we are a lifeless mass of objects beholden to the powers of political brute force and economic greed. Earth life cannot sustain itself indefinitely under the present conditions because, simply put, there is no center.

Living in in the radicality of love is a good beginning to this Lenten season. But the demands of love are costly and I do not think we are prepared for what is on the horizon of our everyday lives. Our current systems are like old, brittle paper; they are falling apart and there is no new paper to replace them. Economic security in various parts of the world continues to prevent radical change in so far as collective change will place demands on personal property and security. Even more so, however, the world is now too big and too complex without sufficient cooperative leadership to effect real change; there is too much information, too many streams of knowledge for the human mind to comprehend; there is no spiritual unity to gather us into a collective whole. And without a collective whole, without a feeling of interdependence and a consciousness of interrelatedness, that is, without real catholicity, we are headed for a series of cataclysmic events. The pandemic and the war on Ukraine are preludes to what lies ahead, not simply for the world at large but, in particular, for us here in the United States.

It is time to get our lives in order, to live creatively and freely in the radicality of love, to live with a consciousness of readiness. Something new is breaking into our world; it is the power of God rising up from what is dead and lifeless into a new more incredible life that we cannot imagine. Artificial intelligence anticipates this new breakthrough of life, this “transhumanism,” but it cannot bring about the needed convergence for planetary wholeness without a world soul.

Lent is a time for living on the edge, poised for the next moment of life. We are invited to get out of our comfortable centers of security and live on the brink of the incomplete, the not-knowing, the open future, and to find comfort in the chaotic flow of life. It might a good time to reflect on the Gospel passages of eschatological readiness. Jesus speaks about knowing neither the day nor the hour (Matt 25:13); to watch therefore and be ready for whatever comes in the next moment. We might be in our cars or watching television or surfing the internet when the winds of change blow through our lives:  one person will be taken, another swept away, and another will be left behind. Homes will crumble and power lines will be destroyed. These changes will happen so quickly we will not know the cause only the effects.

We here in the comfortable West have thought too long in terms of essentialism, that we are essentially good people, and that God is essentially powerful, and that we are essentially exempt from suffering, sorrow, famine and destruction. Essentialism is a vestige of Greek philosophy; it has prevented us from entering into a quantum society, and the realization of an entangled planet.

This Lent we are called into a new consciousness of love. It is time to move beyond Plato’s cave, of returning to God with some type of detached spirit, and to wake up to the reality that we have cut God out of physical evolution and taken the reins of godly power into our own hands.  We have “de-incarnated” God and are now left with a planet stripped of spiritual soul. Is there hope? Yes, where there is God, there is hope and future, but the Gospel message is clear: hope is what dawns when new wine is put into new wineskins. The old must die for the new to be born.  So let us be attentive and be ready for the birth of the new in our midst.

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25 Comments

  1. Joseph Weber on March 1, 2022 at 2:39 pm


  2. Mario G Alberico on March 1, 2022 at 6:41 pm

    The self beyond the self. Is this a new take on the postmodernism sense of the other, and reframed for the purposes of the author’s own dogmatic version of apocalyptic dread and sense of doom long practiced by fundamentalist Christian’s on the right and left? Do we have a new version of old Roman Catholic fire and brimstone revelation of doom dressed in 21st environmental and political and ecological disasters ready to strip away humans from the planet? Is this decarnation of God another literary trope of the nullification of God’s greatest gift to choose to live as and among those created in the Lord’s image? Are such statements of global fear and dread a remix of old church salvation cliches the author challenges and cloaks the cult of indulgences that plagued the sanctity of Lent to line the pockets of men in power? Might this essay suggest the sins of the self amid the hyperself as humankind finally has the power to destroy the truth of Grace across time that God always comes to those created, no matter the amount and magnitude of individual or collective transgressions? Do we have yet another shot against Religion as a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Did the writer overlook or be unaware of the definition of Religion within a Jungian sensibility that is defined as that which has put together – restored – that which was broken? Could that possibly be a better message if the power of God during Lent and the example of a love so strong and unbreakable that we should return to for the restoration of Eden and the presence of Heaven on Earth? Should the author move away from the center of news media and stand at the center of the periphery as Jesus did, to see his walk in the wilderness and walk to Calvary as acts of love for creation and the created as culmination of the incarnation’s life example that showed us the power of love – God’s ways of love / that we are able to participate in the restoration of our relationships with God, God’s creation, and God’s image humankind? Shouldn’t we dispose of a Lenten message of destruction with one of restoration? And can we move beyond the mid 20th century computational cybernetic’s offspring of AI that is another in long line of misplaced man made salvations of technology that are remakes and remixes or the Golden Calf hewn from those metals held precious by the ancients as a god to replace God that people chose not to see as always already present and at the door? AI is the current golden calf that tries to take the place of our Lord, and it’s abstract mystery only adds to the deception at the hands of promises that its machine learning intelligence and algorithmic purity are to be trusted fully to the point that we relinquish our souls to them, and become separated from God in the same way as the gleaming statue of the calf had on those before us. May we have the strength in our faith of God that we can lead a sacrificial love life that we act and abide in Christ as Christ abides in us so that we may be part of a self among other branches on the vine who work to establish God’s Grace in the world. That sacrificial love that restores all and showed us the way along the Via Dolorosa some 2000 years ago through the streets of Jerusalem. Let us be part of that world to come, as it was and is and always will be through Jesus Christ. Amen.



  3. Bettina Del Sesto on March 2, 2022 at 8:31 am

    This is truth,Ilia and a powerful word coming at the beginning of Lent. Most important as I see from my view as an octogerian is our need and knowing the importance of interdependence.



  4. center4joyjoy borum on March 2, 2022 at 8:51 am

    Gorgeous and, for me, a frisson of fear, uncertainty, oh-oh, and a desire, a prayer for continuance of shedding dead skin, the shell now too small. Thank you.



  5. Annmary Andrews pbvm on March 2, 2022 at 8:58 am

    Thank you



  6. Elaine Pfaff on March 2, 2022 at 9:01 am

    My heart’s desire has been to share life in the incomplete. Your words, Ilia, both detail and extend this inner movement with corresponding awe for our planet. Thank you for your reflection here. It is precious this Ash Wednesday.



  7. billtonnis on March 2, 2022 at 9:10 am

    Very insightful essay. What especially resonated with me: “It is time to get our lives in order, to live creatively and freely in the radicality of love, to live with a consciousness of readiness. Something new is breaking into our world; it is the power of God rising up from what is dead and lifeless into a new more incredible life that we cannot imagine.” Yes…this is my great desire.



  8. Cathy on March 2, 2022 at 9:11 am

    Powerful reflection, ?? thank you!



  9. Gloria P on March 2, 2022 at 10:36 am

    This makes me feel unsettled and scared because even though I have been a ‘Christian’ for 50 plus years I have not grown in love enough to face the future. Perhaps fear will motivate me to open my eyes.



  10. Bernadette Beach on March 2, 2022 at 12:09 pm

    Such a truth filled article. Thank you Ilia for saying out loud that which many of us know at a gut level. You challenge all of us to a whole new level of living lent.



  11. Wally Saunders on March 2, 2022 at 12:29 pm

    Wally Saunders: Beautiful, Ilia! Lent does mean “Springtime” and Springtime presupposes Autumn and its dead and dying foliage and the darkness, discomforts and dormancy of Winter. ❤️



  12. Maureen Harris on March 2, 2022 at 1:56 pm

    Thanks Ilia. Appreciate this to begin anew this Lenten season!



  13. Tom on March 2, 2022 at 2:01 pm

    Brilliantly clear assessment of where we’re at as a human species and the beginnings of what’s needed. Thank you Illia!



  14. Gail Waring RSM on March 2, 2022 at 3:14 pm

    Thank you, Ilia, for the richness of your Lenten gift. Your words are like a magnet attracting me/us forward. I will reflect on them often this Lent. It is such a blessing to feel their attraction and to be drawn to live more lovingly. Gratitude for your writing.



  15. Helena Greene on March 3, 2022 at 4:20 am

    Thank you Ilia for such an inspiring and challenging article as we set out on the Lenten jounney. The call from the future is surely the call to collective love and I have been reflecting on how the Pandemic and the war have been melding the World into this love-body as we all feel that oneness with the people of the Ukraine who are surrounded by such horror. The unity is surely the coming of the kingdom/kindom and a sign of the times.



  16. Joe Masterleo on March 4, 2022 at 8:17 am

    The specter of death presents everywhere and pervades everything in this world, from a false sense of self separate from God identity, to disease and disorder, to dead religion, to autocratic leaders with weapons that can swallow innocents wholesale, and may sooner end life on earth. There’s only one way out from under this dark shadow of death, the hope of the Gospel message and resurrection life. Both death and life, darkness and light, wheat and tares are polarities that have been growing exponentially on earth, side by side, for millennia. And they’re reaching critical mass headed for a flashpoint of light (Christ), who will come, says Scripture, not as a meek lamb led to slaughter, but “like lightning that can be seen from east to west” (Matt. 24:27). The transformational energies resulting thereof will be explainable via pure physics, nuclear in nature, far and away exceeding any form of man-made device, the latter of which can only be destructive by nature.



  17. Brady Young on March 4, 2022 at 3:53 pm

    As always, thank you for your thoughtful insights, Ilia. Once again, I find myself needing to pause on short phrases to catch the fullness of your message. It is so refreshing to hear the truth of hope in light of death/renewal.



  18. […] “Lent is a time for living on the edge, poised for the next moment of life. We are invited to get out of our comfortable centers of security and live on the brink of the incomplete, the not-knowing, the open future, and to find comfort in the chaotic flow of life..” —Ilia Delio, Lent: Poised for Action […]



  19. Julia on March 8, 2022 at 11:19 am

    For the first time on Ash Wednesday, there was a powerful moment. Are we not created of earth bound dust and cosmic star dust both?



  20. Marlene Milasus on March 13, 2022 at 8:21 am

    Thank you for this. May we all leave our own caves of so-called identity and open the borders of our spirits unconditionally.



  21. geemapox on March 13, 2022 at 12:46 pm

    Jesus said, “Fear is unnecessary; what is needed is trust.” Being mindful that God is everywhere, we need not fear. Let us show our trust in God by loving each other and our environment, in practical action, as St. James wrote, not just in our minds and words.



  22. […] “This Lent we are called into a new consciousness of love. It is time to move beyond Plato’s cave, of returning to God with some type of detached spirit, and to wake up to the reality that we have cut God out of physical evolution and taken the reins of godly power into our own hands.”   —Ilia Delio, Lent: Poised for Action […]



  23. Mary Pat Jones on March 21, 2022 at 6:47 pm

    Thank you again for aiding us through this era. We are so fortunate to have our opportunities for guided growth from so many like you. We have been practicing bearing witness and choosing our responses, gaining insight into patterns especially our shadow side and acting with wider and wider awareness of global cosmic life. You have led us through Teilhard’s many gifts of wisdom, and introduced us to many gifted and blessed souls, especially your blessed life. You have encouraged us to have a daily practice and to remain in communion with all. I hope you understand how well you have helped position us to be open, wakeful and in union with all people and our Mother Earth. I hope all of your readers understand that we are all in communion here and now, no matter our differences in awareness. All of our Ancestors are in communion with us also as is all transformed energy. Remain awake, We walk together in all suffering and joy, We are never alone. Be grateful, be mindful, be merciful, do justice, make sacrifices, walk humbly. As far as the energy of AI, we pray daily for it’s collective use to be inspired by the good the true, and the beautiful. Love’s energy never dies, it is a constant and always in transformation. Remember, we are spiritual beings on a human journey. Be not afraid. We are here for many purposes, trust your centered heart, you will always be guided. Continue to bear witness to Ukraine, it matters. Practice Tonglin.



  24. […] “We have ‘de-incarnated’ God and are now left with a planet stripped of spiritual soul. Is there hope? Yes, where there is God, there is hope and future, but the Gospel message is clear: hope is what dawns when new wine is put into new wineskins. The old must die for the new to be born.  So let us be attentive and be ready for the birth of the new in our midst”   —Ilia Delio, Lent: Poised for Action […]



  25. Jerome McNicholl on March 23, 2022 at 2:15 pm

    A wonderful article crunching the present moment…a German artist in the eighties clarified a way of working ‘ working in the dark moving towards seeing’…real artist’s work this way…it is enormously freeing.



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