In this Random Nun Clip, we talk with Sister Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, about holiness and what it takes to be a holy person. Hear the full In Good Faith podcast at IGF028.
Sister Elizabeth Johnson is a Sister of St. Joseph of Brentwood, Long Island, and is Distinguished Professor of Theology at Fordham University in New York City.
An award winning author, Sister Elizabeth has written many books including Friends of God and Prophets: A Feminist Theological Reading of the Communion of Saints; Truly Our Sister: A Theology of Mary in the Communion of Saints; and Quest for the Living God. Her new book on ecological theology, entitled Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love, will be out in January 2014.
Sister Elizabeth has also published many essays in scholarly journals, chapters in edited books, book reviews, and articles in popular journals. She is a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and the American Theological Society.
SISTER MAXINE: Today we talk with Sister Elizabeth Johnson, a Sister of St. Joseph of Brentwood, Long Island. She is a distinguished professor of theology at Fordham University in New York City.
SISTER JULIE: I think we struggle with that notion of holiness. We almost automatically think that it’s beyond our grasp as human beings, but some people are just gifted with being totally perfect, yet the way you speak is it that holiness sounds more like something that we are gifted with by virtue of being human and that it’s accessible to us.
SISTER ELIZABETH JOHNSON: That’s right. There isn’t a thing we can do to merit it, in so far as the initiative comes from the love of God toward us. And our job, if I can put it this way, is to receive it and to respond in gratitude and then let that love flow forth toward others. It’s something that is so profoundly encompassing around us and within us, with us just simply having to be grateful. Again, I think it comes from a, I would say, medieval or late medieval kind of theology, but if you go back to Scripture and the early Christian centuries of theology, it’s a whole different understanding. I keep saying we need to go back to that to refresh our own ways and lose all kinds of pay-ups and strivings that are keeping us from making the impact we should be making.