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Radical Amazement

Radical Amazement

Contemplative Lessons from Black Holes, Supernovas, and Other Wonders of the Universe 

Author: Judy Cannato

Price: $14.95

Format: Paperback

Pages: 160

Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5 inches

ISBN: 978-1-893732-99-5

Imprint: Sorin Books

On-sale date: March 1, 2006

More Spirituality, Theology


Twentieth century science completely revolutionized human understanding of the world, rewriting the story of the universe with exciting discoveries and theories—the big bang, the relativity of space and time, the accelerating expansion of the universe, along with increasingly refined ideas of evolution and the origin of life. Radical Amazement unifies the worlds of science and religion, weaving profound spiritual lessons from our new knowledge. Through thoughtful and practical reflections, enhanced by prayers and meditations, Judy Cannato reveals the connectedness of all creation and invites us to explore the harmony of science and spirituality.


"Blends wonder and contemplation."

"Today, there is no shortage of wonderful books on the marvels of creation, but Judy Cannato blends wonder and contemplation into a refreshing and timely synthesis.

Diarmuid O'Murchu, M.S.C., Author of Evolutionary Faith: Rediscovering God in Our Great Story

"An important and challenging work."

"You hold in your hands an important and challenging work. Science and Religion become companions as you contemplatively enter into a way of living that embraces the connectedness of all that is. Truly this book will evoke Radical Amazement in its readers."

Macrina Wiederkehr, O.S.B., author of Seven Sacred Pauses

"Richly inspiring."

"With clear prose, Judy Cannato urges us not to be indifferent to this universe. Her plea for humanity to integrate the new universe story and live into our connection to the Holy Mystery is simply and powerfully made, richly inspiring."

Paula D'Arcy, Author of Sacred Threshold: Crossing the Inner Barrier to a Deeper Love

"Radically understandable, amazingly spiritual."

Chapter Three of Judy Cannato’s book begins with a sentence fragment
familiar from Genesis and the Gospel of St. John, “In the beginning.” As an English teacher, somewhat intimidated by the new cosmology (which sounds like theology in the language of physics) and annoyed by sentence fragments and the arguments about the theory of relativity, I hesitated, but I read on into amazement. In simple, succinct language, Judy Cannato explains our most recent discoveries about the history of the cosmos from the theoretical “flaming cosmic explosion. . .13.7 billion years ago” through the death of a supernova that resulted in the creation of our solar system, the formation of Earth, and relatively recently, just about 150,000 years ago, the emerging of our species. If we imagine a 24-hour clock on December 31, we began our evolutionary journey just as the celebration begins in New York as the ball begins to drop. God had been enjoying the act of creation for billions of years, evolving universes, our sun from the stardust of that supernova, our planet, and finally homo sapiens. Cannato sees human evolution as the journey toward consciousness that leads to the loving consciousness of God manifested in Jesus and through him, in us by the creative energy of grace. Further, she sees elements of cosmic evolution repeated in the psychological and spiritual evolution of each of us. In each chapter, the book’s cosmic history, stripped of scientific jargon, begins in physics and ends in prayer. As Mary asked Gabriel, “How can this be done?” Cannato is a remarkable synthesizer. She sees each cosmic event with a prayerful sense of wonder and demonstrates its significance in terms of Scripture, of human psychology, and of spirituality. For example, in Chapter 11, we learn that the death of the supernova (huge star) resulted in new life— resurrection—in the creation of the sun, which is giving of its very life—light and heat energy—to create life and sustain it on planet Earth. In these deaths and resurrections, we see the connectedness between that supernova and us. (Amazingly, we are made of the stardust from that explosion.) We see a similar connectedness in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus with our lives. “Aware that death is imminent—and what a cruel death it will be—Jesus presses on toward Jerusalem, choosing to participate rather than run for cover” (Cannato 120). Living gracefully in his consciousness, we live our connectedness with Earth and its creatures, our brothers and sisters. Facing our own personal deaths, we know that “the experience of fear will surely come, but it does not have to rule us, nor does it have to control our response or drain our power (124). And we know that like the supernova that birthed our solar system, like the sun, and like Jesus, our response will lead to resurrection. Like all chapters, this one ends in prayer, human, heartfelt, and contemplative. Here is one sentence: “Help us to enter into our physical death and all the dyings that precede it with as much consciousness and freedom as we can” (125). Judy Cannato’s academic training, lively intelligence, and ability to simplify and synthesize science, theology, and spirituality make this book understandable. Her own amazement and awe at the wonders of The Holy One’s creativity make it thoroughly enjoyable. Her experience as a spiritual director speaks eloquently to the heart and soul.

Patricia Peters, PhD, Recently-retired professor of English, Scottsdale Community College in Scottsdale, Arizona

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