The Heart of Matter: The Key to Evolution is Openness to the Environment.

Welcome to The Heart of Matter, a new contemplative email series from the Center for Christogenesis. Our invitation to you is to read those passages every day to give them time to expand and use an incarnational practice to deepen their understanding.

Knowledge without practice can remain “heady” and far from becoming transformative. The practices introduced here can also be used to read Scriptures, poetry, even secular texts as a way to counterbalance our propensity to read quickly and remain at the surface of things.

Become a seer. “The seer sees something that does not yet exist; knows something is seeking to exist; and acts to making something exist in a new way.” says Ilia Delio.
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Tuesday, January 11th 2022

The key to evolution is openness to the environment. Open systems can be influenced by the environment and change in relation to the environment. Closed systems cannot evolve, because they cannot be influenced by the environment; thus they seek to preserve their resources within.” —Ilia Delio, The Emergent Christ

In Spanish:
“La clave de la evolución es la apertura al medio ambiente. Los sistemas abiertos pueden ser influenciados por el medio ambiente y el medio ambiente los hace cambiar. En cambio, los sistemas cerrados no pueden evolucionar, porque estos no pueden ser influenciados por el medio ambiente; precisamente por pretender preservar sus recursos internos.”  —Ilia Delio, The Emergent Christ


An Incarnational Practice: Entering and Leaving

There are many ways to enter a room, a space, a conversation. It is very common to go from room to room, activity to activity, without batting an eyelash or taking a breath. The invitation this week is to pause at the threshold of the text, to create a quiet space devoid of noise and movement before letting the words in. Breathe in deeply, breathe out intentionally, light a candle, remove your shoes, turn that space into a welcoming and open space ready to receive the fullness of the text.

And as you leave, pause at that threshold once again before leaving that space with the insights you might have gained, or the questions that might have arisen.


What is being revealed? What is being moved? What is being asked?

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  1. Brenda Dell on January 11, 2022 at 6:29 am

    The word “intentionally” strikes a chord with me today. It moves my mindset into a position of acceptance and presence to reality in a totally different way from normal reading so that I am ready to absorb and be moved into better observance and understanding of all I see and hear, even if for a little while. Everything can give me growth in understanding and the more I learn the more I realise the the gift of my being today is a participation with all that is.

  2. Monica on January 11, 2022 at 6:57 am

    Thank you for this new series, Heart of the Matter! I feel it will be beneficial to me and so manybothers!

  3. Damian Maureira on January 11, 2022 at 7:42 am

    Thank you for your daily meditations. On my contemplative spiritual journey, I try to be open to God’s Loving Spirit in the sacredness and creative newness of the Present Moment….

  4. Annmary Andrews pbvm on January 11, 2022 at 7:55 am

    God of love is revealed and my heart is moved to reach out in love and compassion.

  5. kevin barr on January 11, 2022 at 7:57 am

    I really like the format of the new and contemplative “Heart of Matter” email series.
    Having “An Incarnational Practice” connected with Mystical Insight allows me to move beyond thought and to be integrated in heart/mind/body/spirit. Such coherence allows Divine energy to move/flow in us, with us and around us! It will help us to move beyond fear/survival thinking and actions to BECOME active and inspired co-creators of our daily lives.

    Without Incarnational Practices, it is so challenging for me to move beyond “heady” thoughts and perspectives. I will never forget an experience with Richard Rohr (one of many) that reminded me of the need for incarnational and mystical practices and dimensions to flow freely with us, in us, through us.

    After attending a Men’s Rite of Passage (MROP) at Ghost Ranch in northern New Mexico in 2001, the CAC (Center for Action and Contemplation) called and asked if I could pick up Richard at the Philly airport and take him to Villanova for a presentation he was delivering. At dinner that evening a good friend of mine asked Richard this question…
    If you could sum up all of your teachings in a few words or a sentence…, what would it be? Richard’s response…. “Incarnational/Mysticism”.
    I look forward to the many incarnational and mystical gifts that this series “Heart of Matter” will reveal to all of us!
    Kevin Barr

  6. Damian Maureira on January 11, 2022 at 8:26 am

    Thank you for this new daily meditation series! It will spiritually help my daily contemplative spiritual journey.

  7. Evan Chasteen on January 11, 2022 at 8:57 am

    Could someone give an example of a closed system?

  8. Marianne on January 11, 2022 at 9:03 am

    In these days of ever growing pessimism, it is a blessing to be reminded that change (disorder) must precede new order. My confidence in God’s plan keeps me from desolation.

  9. Martina Miller on January 11, 2022 at 10:40 am

    I teach high school and today right when I arrived I felt called to light a candle in my classroom – then I read this reflection and it mentioned doing this to make the space holy and create space for possibilities – so I wrote on my desk blotter to remember every day to pause, breathe deeply, and allow the classroom experience to be transformed into an open space. Thank you!

  10. Jacquie Keefe on January 11, 2022 at 10:43 am

    Thank you, Ilia and staff, for this insight and invitation to be part of deepening, desiring and living the gift of our “incarnational dignity” and falling in love with our God, all peoples and the cosmos more and more everyday!!! Blessings of all goodness & peace! Jacquie

  11. Mary Anne Geskie on January 11, 2022 at 10:53 am

    The idea of an Open System that welcomes transition and the encouragement to “pause as we enter a reading” and to “ponder what is being revealed” as we leave, creates the stir within me to be still and listen! To deepen one’s awareness long enough to “take it in” and allow it to change us and prepare us for a life giving action is the beauty of the gift of life…Gratetude

  12. Sister Jean on Ryan on January 11, 2022 at 11:15 am

    For me, I am searching for ways to help me see each moment as “Sacrament.” That is: a symbol, a sign, which points to something beyond itself. My “head” wants to take me in so many different directions seemingly all at the same time. Only my heart can understand and connect me to the presence beyond / within the moment.
    Thank you for helping me to discover new ways to be aware of and to become Sacrament within what “seems like” such a chaotic world. Jean Ryan SBS

  13. Elise Collier on January 11, 2022 at 11:42 am

    It’s so hard to remain open to an environment that feel unsafe. The instinct driven checker system of my brain picks up signals of threat and my nervous system responds to threat by becoming a closed system. Holding the balance between protection and vulnerability is definitely a dance. My work is to let it flow with the music of the environment and to stay aware of how it’s enfolding movements.

  14. Lupita Vargas on January 11, 2022 at 4:25 pm

    I am home quarantining because my husband and I have Covid, feeling discouraged with so much suffering and chaos around us. The Incarnational practice new series are so timely! A call to grow, be grateful, and be transformed, and to trust. Thank you, Ilia, and the team that make this possible!

  15. Darryl Nelson on January 11, 2022 at 8:16 pm

    Thank you for such a succinct reflection on evolution. From a personal point of view, nothing new is revealed. My sincere prayer is that as the Church reflects through local plenaries on it’s state in the world, that some thought be given to the critical distinction between open and closed systems and the need for evolution in structures and power imbalances.

  16. Joe Madterleo on January 12, 2022 at 7:44 am

    One example of a closed system is the mind, which in its natural state is informed primarily by the 5 senses for purposes of survival and adaptation to daily living. Being more sense bound in most, the mind only operates within a ceiling of awareness that restricts what it can know to it’s own thoughts, perceptions and emotions in space-time. Left to itself, being self-bound and contained (closed), the mind cannot experience and therefore know the spiritual dimension unless/until a conscious awakening to that dimension occurs. If/when that occurs, the faculties of the mind (seeing, thinking, feeling, and choosing) become spiritually awakened and informed, open to the inflow of Spirit. The mind then becomes a witness to and a participant in the flow of spiritual life. Once consciously energized and informed by same, spirit, soul, mind and body can then serve higher, more noble purposes. Without spiritual awakening, a direct conscious experience of divine presence, one cannot know spiritual things. Without spiritual light the mind is closed (blind) to spiritual sight. The natural mind is resistant to and therefore closed to such experiences (Rm. 8:7). Religious systems that do not teach spiritual awakening as an entry level requirement to an active spiritual life, are also closed systems, just as they were in the time of Jesus. And their clerics, “blind leaders of the blind.” Spirituality is an experience, and no one can know it unless they have that experience firsthand. Toward that end, all contemplative practices are aimed. Hope this helps.

  17. Lynda on January 12, 2022 at 7:07 pm

    Hi Evan,

    I’m a beginner in all this myself, but I pondered your question after reading it yesterday and have some comments to offer. Ilia has written that “the boundaries of open systems are more flexible”* and interact more with their environment compared to closed systems. In my context I could say that my local Christophany Group is an example of an ‘open’ system whereby each member can bring their ideas, passions and personality to the discussions knowing that the wider group will value the person’s authentic presence and energy. This doesn’t mean that we always agree, but there is a sense of ‘spaciousness’ that caters for divergent views without stressing our connection. We don’t lean into conformance, but rather lean into listening and learning from one another and together. I realise this isn’t quite what you asked, but it’s what came to my mind after reading your question.

    Also, here’s an article on the C4C website that talks about open/closed systems in relation to climate/environment and institutional church that may help solidify the idea:

    *The quote above is also from The Emergent Christ (p.141).

    Wishing you, and all of us, a week of insightful thresholds.


  18. Rita Leitch on January 13, 2022 at 5:49 am

    I like Richards response to your question because he has a lot to sum up!

  19. Ethel Hornbeck on January 13, 2022 at 8:33 am

    “The key to evolution is openness to the environment” all change requires openness. our personal transformation calls us to this simple-but-challenging practice of receiving, openness to “the environment”, which is to say, ALL things that surround us, welcome and unwelcome. it is the intention, the openness itself, the surrender to life as it is, that allows change to happen, in its own time, or as Rev angel kyoto williams says, “change at the speed of trust”

  20. Mary on January 14, 2022 at 9:13 am

    Wow! great responses! I want to be open to everything that I am. Accepting the good and bad and recognizing my interconnection with everything else including the divine. This changes everything

  21. jferro7067 on January 15, 2022 at 8:13 am

    I love the idea of pausing before any activity and after any activity. I have lived my life moving all of the time without slowing up and appreciating. Thank you for this thought.

  22. Mary on January 16, 2022 at 6:18 am

    Thank you for an inspiring thought provoking comment!

  23. pthomasmcguire on January 18, 2022 at 9:40 am

    Receive, Give, Love


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