It was my good fortune, at the end of June, to enjoy a performance by a group which has been in operation for 44 years in our area, but of which until then I had never heard. Encounter, with its headquarters at Main Street United Methodist Church in Alton, presented the musical The Story, a quick overview of salvation history from the time of Abraham and Sarah to the Paschal Mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
At times, as you read this column, which focuses upon our relationships with people of every religion and no religion, it may seem as if these relationships are “easy.” All we need to do, it seems, is strike up a conversation and discover all the things we have in common with different groups of people, and life is sunny and friendly.
As I’m writing this column, on the evening of Easter Sunday, reports are coming in of a suicide bombing in Lahore, Pakistan. Those claiming responsibility for the bombing have confirmed their timing it to coincide with the most important solemnity of the Christian year.
It was a pleasure to participate, on Saturday, Feb. 13, in some of the education and formation of our diocesan permanent-diaconate class of 2020. This class consists of seven men from around the diocese. The wives of several of them were also present as we took a day, at Villa Maria on Lake Springfield, to survey the challenges of ecumenical and interreligious activity within our diocese.
I have received some comments about my allusion, in the January column, to my personal conversion to Jesus. It seems to me that it is necessary to develop this theme further. The development of the "discipleship and stewardship" way of life certainly demands that we be able to articulate our personal faith.
Our local church of Springfield in Illinois is giving a great gift to the larger Catholic Church in the United States, as Father Peter Harman assumes the post of rector of the Pontifical North American College, Rome, on Feb. 1.
As of Wednesday, Dec. 9, Catholics worldwide have entered the second half-century since the close of the Second Vatican Council. Vatican II gave us a vision of the church, the People of God, in its role of transforming humanity in accord with the gift of Jesus Christ.
"So, are all the religions going to merge?" This was the gist of a couple of questions I have received concerning the Parliament of the World's Religions, held last month in Salt Lake City.
I imagine that such unrealistic expectations are spurred by that word, "parliament," which was first used in 1893. We tend to think of a parliament as a legislative body; therefore, we might imagine delegates of various religions deliberating resolutions which might be adopted by all religions.
As we approach the 50th anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council on Dec. 8, I feel as if I may be repeating myself in reviewing some of the documents which are of great importance as we consider our stance as Catholic Christians in the "big small world" we live in today. But as we think of the diversity of our world, and our inclination to think that a "simpler" world society would be better, we must recognize with great pride that our church does, in fact, accept and honor the world as we find it.
In my July column, I noted an event in St. Louis on the Declaration on Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate, "In Our Age") of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II).
I am happy to pass along some information on another St. Louis event, this one focusing on this same declaration as well as the same Council's Declaration on Religious Freedom (Dignitatis Humanae, "Human Dignity").