Posts tagged: diversity

Does Life Have Meaning? If Yes, What Is It?

By , August 6, 2013 4:55 am

The next time you drive around a good sized city in America you quickly become aware of religious differences among the Christians. Roman Catholics and mainline Protestant churches would probably account for 90% of the believers in Jesus. There are dozens of smaller groups popping up all the time.
Let’s push Christianity aside for just a moment and think about the other great religious traditions that exist across the planet. We consider the many forms that Christianity has taken over the centuries. We must always be very conscious of the Jews, the faith in which Christianity was originally rooted. First of all, there are the Muslims. They are hard to forget. Then there are the Buddhists, Hindus, Animists and many other religious traditions.
Despite their amazing diversity, without exception, all of these religious groups have one thing in common – to answer the question, what is the purpose of life and how should it be lived and structured. To see this commonality in religious faith, we ought to try to be more patient and understanding with religious diversity which marks our planet. It is tragic that this diversity has resulted in so much misunderstanding, pain and suffering.
In the 21st century, the Christians of this planet put aside the hatred and religious wars of the past and see that their common faith in Jesus Christ is a source of strength not only for themselves but for the human family. Regretfully, some groups of Muslims and a few others still find religious diversity to be a cause of hatred and killing. Christian communities across the planet ought to be doing everything they can to bring about peace and acceptance rather than divisiveness and murder. Regretfully, the Muslims are not only hostile to non-Muslims but even to diversity within their common faith. The Shiites and the Sunnis are on the verge of war in several Middle Eastern countries.
Let’s remind ourselves of our own faith. We believe in a very special way that God has stepped into the human story and brought a message to the human family. It is beautiful and it gives humans an opportunity to take part in God’s salvific plan for all. Jesus was born in Bethlehem and gradually revealed his nature and purpose and a message of great joy and encouragement to the human family. Does life have meaning? Yes, it does but it requires faith, deep faith.

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Diverse, Yes But United!

By , September 11, 2012 4:11 am

Every Catholic parish has some components in its life that are universal – the altar, the celebration of the sacraments, religious education, etc. However, at the same time, nearly every parish has certain aspects that make it unique.

When I think of the diversity of parishes in the Diocese of Austin, I am fascinated by their uniqueness, their diversity, their individuality. We have parishes that serve academic communities, rural communities, others that are completely urban in their makeup. Throw in linguistic differences and various forms of apostolic zeal. Needless to say, these parishes cover the whole range of economic diversity as well. What a mix!

What ties all this together? What creates unity about which the Church cares so much in these 125 communities of faith scattered across 25,000 miles of Central Texas? Well, of course, it is the faith itself. The parishioners of St. Michael’s in Uhland and the parishioners of St. Jerome’s in Waco all share their common faith in Jesus Christ and his teachings. That is very true. However, on a day-by-day basis, it is the office of bishop that provides that necessary and beautiful unity. In a very real sense, each parish has two pastors. The first is the canonical pastor who is there with them sanctifying, teaching and healing day by day, and then the bishop who stands side by side with every pastor in the Diocese uniting them together through his office.

This reality is dramatized most effectively with all the priests of the Diocese joining the bishop at the Cathedral where he blesses the sacred oils in large containers and sends them out by the pastors to the various churches. The oil used in baptism at St. Michael’s is one with the oil used while baptizing babies at St. Jerome’s. Many parishes, one bishop, one faith, one destiny.

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The Hope-filled ‘60’s – Looking Back

By , March 27, 2012 1:32 pm

The 1960’s were an extraordinary time in the United States. They were filled with hope and chaos. Nationally, the Vietnam War raged on and on. Thousands of young Americans were dying and tens of thousands of Vietnamese were suffering the same fate. The draft was on and many young people were making every effort to avoid it because they instinctively knew that the war was so senseless, so wasteful and so unnecessary.

On the Church side of the ledger, things looked differently. Konrad Adenauer was leading a prosperous, peace loving Germany and the agony of the Second World War was beginning to fade, at least slightly. In the Church there was optimism everywhere. John XXIII, that rotund, little parish priest from the Italian alps, sat on the throne of Peter. He was loving and lovable. He looked at the problems in the Church and for the first time in more than 100 years called for a world-wide council of bishops. Change was in the air. Hope was in the air. Optimism was abundant. So there you had that decade. You had war and chaos and conflict, and you had faith, hope and optimism.

As a young priest, I had already been in several very diverse parishes and in the late ‘60’s was serving the national office in Washington, D.C. I had the thrill of witnessing close at hand the remarkable legislative accomplishments of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. In the South, the Freedom Riders were beaten and sometimes killed but the War on Poverty with all of its ramifications and the Civil Rights Act, the Voters Rights Act and Open Housing Act were all passed in that same decade. I remember the whole decade very well and I hope that I never forget it. No one should.

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