Ilia DELIO, Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology, Consciousness, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2015. pp. 278. $25.00 pb. ISBN 978-1-62698-136-2. Reviewed by Ann MICHAUD, Fordham University, Bronx, NY, 01458.
In this well-researched and inclusive work, Delio seeks to discover and articulate catholicity as consciousness of the whole as it is evolving in today’s cosmic understanding, and the interrelationship of this catholicity and consciousness with Catholic teaching.
Her text is the seminal volume in an ongoing series by Orbis books which will explore Catholicity in an Evolving Universe. For all readers with a central, or even peripheral, interest in this topic, I would urge attention to the release of these books. This is a subject which is crucial for the comprehension of faith today, whatever one’s personal stance, and to the sensible articulation of any connection between Christianity and science. Ultimately, either discipline ignores the other to its own detriment and that of our world.
In ten brief but densely-packed chapters, Delio traces the shift of catholicity from its interwovenness with religious outlook and the human person, to the unraveling of these relationships fragmented into the “distinct” worldviews of religion and science. Adherence to Church law became the new articulation of “Catholic” with a capital “C”, while science sought to explain the logical operation of the cosmos. Then came quantum physics and quantum cosmology and a quantum shift to a new or renewed vision of the catholicity or wholeness of the universe. As Delio puts it, “We are evolution become conscious of itself, which means we are part of something much more interconnected and conscious than our immediate selves.” (69) Humans were no longer to be conceived of as the center and raison d’etre of the cosmos, but rather as an integral part of the living, evolving universe.
Those seeking to convey quantum theory and its impact on theology in a succinct and comprehensible manner to students or other theological audiences will find Delio’s chapters on the topic exceptionally lucid and valuable.
Delio then takes on the sticking point of emerging catholicity and current Catholicity. Where does Jesus fit in this new universal consciousness? She follows the path of Jesus’ mission, teaching, connection with nature, his death and dying and his resurrection, and the Church’s understanding of Baptism and Eucharist as articulations of a quantum comprehension of reality not bound by self-focused or self-conceived images of what must be. “His [Jesus’] gospel ‘be-attitude’ of poverty is a way of being inwardly free…Blessed are those who have inner space to see and receive what they see into their lives, for those who can see the truth of reality already know heaven. Heaven unfolds when we see things for what they are, not what we think they should be, and when we love others for who they are, not what we expect them to be.” (75)
The four final things – death, judgment, heaven and hell – are then considered and articulated in terms which take into account a Big Bang perspective, while “the insufficiency of science to effect the transition to superconsciousness” (111) is also critiqued. Embracing an open-system concept would, in Delio’s view, allow religion and science to interact in a manner that ensures the beneficial functioning of both. The call is to a higher consciousness, a quantum consciousness, a putting on the mind of Christ. The rise of consciousness is indispensable to moving forward. One cannot simply ignore the Big Bang. As Delio puts it, “The world is begging for new and more abundant life. The life of the world is your life, and your life belongs to the whole of life. Stop trying to preserve yourself …Omega love is in our midst, and this love is our power, our hope and our future. Remain in this love, because this love is the fire of life itself and will endure forever. Be the co-creator you are made to be: emblazon this world with the grandeur of God.” (190)
Throughout her text, Delio integrates science, theology, and spirituality in ways that are mutually informative yet without conflation. The result is an argument that compels the reader to examine her/his own perspective. Delio’s book is therefore valuable and provocative for a wide-ranging audience, from those who have embraced this vision to those who have not yet considered it.In closing, Delio posits this point: “Catholicity, cosmology, and consciousness must be integrally connected if we are to forge a new path for the future. The key to catholicity, orienting mind toward wholeness, is focusing the mind on the unity of God-Omega, on divine love. From a Christian perspective training the mind on love is awakening to the Spirit of God through prayer and meditation.” (194) It may require some reconfiguring of our current consciousness. In the end, “Christians…must choose to evolve; to become conscious of what is yet unconscious and unwhole; to connect consciously to the whole planet, the whole earth community, and the universe.” (197)