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Posts Tagged ‘Providence’

Jews and Catholics face the challenges of religion in contemporary society

In Uncategorized on 2014/08/22 at 12:00 AM

Vatican City (VIS) – The International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee (ILC), the official forum for ongoing dialogue between the Holy See´s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC), held its 22nd meeting in Madrid, Spain, from 13-16 October, 2013. The meeting was co-chaired by Betty Ehrenberg, chair of IJCIC and Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews. The theme of the meeting was “Challenges for Religion in Contemporary Society”, and at the end the participants published a joint declaration that touched upon several important points:“1. Our Shared HeritageJews and Christians share the heritage of the biblical testimony of God’s relationship with the human family throughout history. Our Scriptures bear witness to both individuals and the people as a whole being called, taught, guided and protected by Divine Providence. In light of this sacred history, Catholic and Jewish participants in the meeting responded to emerging opportunities and difficulties facing religious belief and practice in today’s world.

2. Religious Freedom

Encouraged in our work by Pope Francis’ expressions of his concern for the universal welfare of all, particularly the poor and the oppressed, we share the belief in the God-given dignity of every individual. This requires that each person be accorded full freedom of conscience and freedom of religious expression individually and institutionally, privately and publicly. We deplore the abuse of religion, the use of religion for political ends. Both Jews and Catholics condemn persecution on religious grounds.

3. Persecution of Christians

The ILC recommends to the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews and IJCIC to work together on situations involving the persecution of Christian minorities worldwide as they arise; to call attention to these problems and to support efforts to guarantee full citizenship to all citizens regardless of religious or ethnic identity in the Middle East and beyond. Further, we encourage efforts to promote the well-being of minority Christian and Jewish communities throughout the Middle East.

4. The Rise of Anti-Semitism

As Pope Francis has repeatedly said, ‘a Christian cannot be an anti-Semite’. We encourage all religious leaders to continue to be a strong voice against this sin. The celebration of the 50th anniversary of ‘Nostra Aetate’ in 2015 is a privileged moment in which to reaffirm its condemnation of anti-Semitism. We urge that anti-Semitic teachings be eliminated from preaching and textbooks everywhere in the world. Similarly, any expression of anti-Christian sentiment is equally unacceptable.

5. Education

We recommend that all Jewish and Catholic seminaries include instruction about “Nostra Aetate” and the subsequent documents of the Holy See implementing the Council’s Declaration in their curricula. As a new generation of Jewish and Catholic leaders arises, we underscore the profound ways that ‘Nostra Aetate’ changed the relationship between Jews and Catholics. It is imperative that the next generation embrace these teachings and ensure that they reach every corner of the world.

In the face of these challenges, we Catholics and Jews renew our commitment to educate our own respective communities in the knowledge of and respect for each other”.

VIS 131018

“Don’t be afraid to know your real self”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2012/07/18 at 9:11 AM
I have no need of miracles: there are more than enough for me in the Gospel. But I do need to see you fulfilling your duty and responding to grace. (The Way, 362)

Let us say again, in word and in action: “Lord, I trust in you; your ordinary providence, your help each day, is all I need.” We do not have to ask God to perform great miracles. Rather, we have to beg him to increase our faith, to enlighten our intellect and strengthen our will. Jesus always stays by our side and is always himself.

Ever since I began to preach, I have warned people against a certain mistaken sense of holiness. Don’t be afraid to know your real self. That’s right, you are made of clay. Don’t be worried. For you and I are sons of God — and that is the right way of being made divine. We are chosen by a divine calling from all eternity: “The Father chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” We belong especially to God, we are his instruments in spite of our great personal shortcomings. And we will be effective if we do not lose this awareness of our own weakness. Our temptations give us the measure of our own weakness.

If you feel depressed when you experience, perhaps in a very vivid way, your own pettiness, then is the time to abandon yourself completely and obediently into God’s hands. There is a story about a beggar meeting Alexander the Great and asking him for alms. Alexander stopped and instructed that the man be given the government of five cities. The beggar, totally confused and taken aback, exclaimed: “I didn’t ask for that much.” And Alexander replied: “You asked like the man you are: I give like the man I am.” (Christ is passing by, 160)

Is Any Religion True? Part 1

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2011/09/17 at 1:01 AM

One of my memories of childhood is the time a friend and I were taken to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Mass. In front of the building, there is a life-size statue of an American Indian astride a horse with his eyes cast upward and his arms outstretched in supplication. The inscription on the base reads: “Appeal to the Great Spirit”, a testimony to the innate tendency toward religion in human nature. In fact, archeologists have discovered only two small groups of people who did not seem to have religion as a part of their culture.  Throughout human history, religion has been a part of culture.  Religion seems to be as natural to man as thinking.

Not only do religions abound, but they come in many forms. Christianity, Judaism and Islam are monotheistic. Greek and Roman mythology were polytheistic (many gods) as were the Arabs prior to Islam. Hinduism is both pantheistic (all is divine) and polytheistic (300,000,000 gods). Buddhism, often called a religion is actually non-theistic; it has no real concept of a deity. It is more of a philosophy of behavior.

In the modern world we make up quasi religions and worship ideas rather than deities. Professional atheism has become a religion. Darwinian evolution has ceased to be a part of science and has become a religious cult totally intolerant of opposing views. (The science of molecular biology has devastated the theory of evolution, but you will never hear this from the media, the education establishment or science partisans.) There are also “religions” based on tolerance, relativism and determinism, among others.

While the Creator may have instilled a penchant toward religion in human nature, man has certainly distorted and denigrated the religious tendency. Human religion is full of contradictions, absurdities, irrational beliefs and, sometimes, downright evil activities.

The world is awash in relativistic and political-correctness claims that we should not pass judgments on any religious beliefs because that would show bias and prejudice, the great sins of the modern Western world. We are told that we can never use such terms as: “better” or “worse”, “good” or “bad” or “true” or” false.” The result has been that since we cannot deal with religion in any rational or responsible way, it should be relegated to the level of a personal hobby with no societal impact or importance at all.

Ideas have consequences, and the abandonment of age-old religious standards in the West has led to a precipitous decline in rational and moral behavior in general. Watch any newscast and you must conclude that the world is going insane. For example, the Federal Department of Education has decreed that one need not know grammar, spelling or be able to write coherently to be hired to teach English. Multiplying this over and over, the insane are running the asylum. Wars, crime, economic collapse, moral perversities, gross incompetence in government at all levels haunt our waking moments.

The questions now must become, “Can there be a true religion amid the mishmash of contemporary religions?” And, “Did the Creator intend something other than the religious cornucopia of today’s world?” If there is one thing that is evident in nature, it is that the Creator is rational and set up the universe in an orderly and systematic way without conflicts, distortions or contradictions. He surely envisioned the same with regard to the religious tendency He put into human nature.  If so, there must be a form of religion that is also orderly and rational, and, therefore, in accord with the divine plan.

To assert that the Creator intended that mankind live in a religious hodge-podge is to deny the goodness and wisdom of God. If He designed man to be religious, it means that humans were meant to have some relationship with God. If this is so, there can be only one way to attain that relationship, and anyone serious about it will want to find that one way.

The belief that God may have set up a particular way to reach Him gives man a goal or purpose in finding that way. Man, by nature, is an explorer and discoverer, but modern man says there is no true religion. Modern man picks whatever one appeals most . . . or, better still, he simply doesn’t pick any religion. Who cares!

If the Creator ordained that man should be able to learn something about Him, it becomes incumbent on God to make it possible to do this. If humans could not perceive and find a true way to God, it would mean that God is demanding what humans cannot do which would be a gross injustice. Fortunately, that is not the case because any normal person can observe nature, its workings and arrive at a logical conclusion that nothing so intricate and complex could ever have created itself, and from there, one proceeds to the idea of a true God.

Objectively speaking, man is a religious creature; however, humans can and often do suppress this tendency. Millions do it every day. It also does not guarantee that humans will find the true path to God. Millions are members of contradictory faiths. To those who do believe there is a God and are sincerely attempting to find Him, He did make available to them a sure way to Him. The Indian sitting on the horse did not have the benefits of later philosophy and theology, but he did know there was a Being to whom he owed allegiance. This understanding put him miles ahead of the arrogant moderns who dismiss the very idea of a Supreme Being, who reject the transcendent, who have all the important answers to unimportant questions, whose ignorant egos direct their superficial lives and whose ultimate fate may not lie with The Great Spirit.

(In part 2, we will try to find that unique religion.)