Theological Imaginings: Presence of/with/to God
Mary-Paula Cancienne rsm (Americas): 'Presence'

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Script of the Video

Why are we focusing on presence?

When we use the word “presence” in a spiritual or religious context, we generally mean an experience of ultimate reality, or “God,” maybe through some experience of someone or something that serves to instill in us a greater sense of meaning.  Maybe it recalibrates our attention in such a way that we discover increased meaning, hope or purpose, or we at least stop, pause, take notice of or savor an experience because it seems important.  It may awaken in us a sense of awe and gratitude, simply or profoundly. -- We may have an experience of “presence of mind” whereby we or someone else attends to reality more respectfully and creatively. 

Our experience of “presence” is for this world.  Maybe it does hint at a hidden dimension or toward something more, yet when we experience “presence” it does feel hyper-real in the moment.  It can invite us into a deeper now, as well as into future, maybe simultaneously, or maybe it takes us back to something we left behind too quickly.  The experience of “presence” has a timelessness about it and a spaciousness that is both intimate and wide. It has elements of new and old.

I want to suggest that opening to the grace of presence involves three stages: vulnerability, revelation, and resiliency...    

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Spanish translation by the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. Traducción al español por las Hermanas de la Misericordia de las Américas

Dr. Mary-Paula Cancienne rsm is a theologian who works for the Conference for Mercy Higher Education in the U.S.  Her background includes advanced degrees in fine arts, psychology, spirituality, and theology.  She explores, writes, and speaks on contemporary questions of meaning/purpose and spirituality, political and environmental ethics, including the ethics of risks, deep aesthetics, tensions between violence and non-violence as means for change, and formative processes for those drawn to the charism of Mercy in higher education.  She co-developed and teaches in the five course program, Mercy Spirituality Online.  Mary-Paula is a trained spiritual director and supervisor, and she “writes” contemporary icons.  She enjoys good conversation and fishing.

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