Monday, August 27, 2007

Do you ever feel invisible?

If so ... come on over to "Mommy Monsters." I posted something there just for you today!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Deadly Words

Today in Catholic Exchange is an article about Auschwitz. I visited the death camp in the summer of 1992 along with a group of Polish and American college students (we were touring southern Poland doing Christian concerts). When we got to the camp, the Polish students refused to go inside -- they waited in the bus while the rest of us went in. When we asked them about it, there was suddenly an insurmountable language barrier between us.

While the Germans ran the camp, the people immediately outside the gates were Polish, not German. Some did resist, and were themselves exterminated. Others grew wealthy by cooperating. Still others fled. It's a comforting thought, I suppose, to tell ourselves that if we were in that situation, we would not have turned a blind eye, that we would have paid with our lives, if necessary, to resist such a monstrous evil.

Ironically, it is the cold, metallic words inscribed in the entrance gate that gives us the best possible advice for how we can eliminate the necessity of abortion in a single generation. Arbeit macht frei: work makes freedom.

What are we doing today -- individually and as a society -- besides talking? I recently read of one Catholic man who promised an unwed mother that he would pay for her expenses for her pregnancy and delivery, and continue the payments for the first two years of the child's life, so she would have time to get back on her feet and be able to support herself and her child. How many of us would make that kind of sacrifice? Or how many would say, as Blessed Teresa often did, "Give the child to me. I will take care of him for you."

It is this kind of witness, this kind of sacrifice, that will make the abortion mills obsolete. We must give more than words. We must give ourselves.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What Should We Call Him?

Today at Catholic Exchange there was a heated exchange about a Dutch bishop who suggested that (within the context of Muslim/Christian dialogue) Christians refer to God as "Allah." This got me thinking about the complexities of cross-cultural communication (my college major was International Studies and Communications). One of the most basic principles of cross-cultural communications is "define your terms." Therefore, the basic consideration is: Whatever we call Him, are we both referring to the same God?

In Nostra Aetate (par 3), the Church acknowledges that "The Church has also a high regard for Muslims. They worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth..." A bit later, the text says, "The sacred Council now ... urges that a sincere effort be made to achieve mutual understanding; for the benefit of all men, let them persevere and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values."

Unless I'm missing something, this sounds to me as though the Church acknowledges that Muslims, Jews, and Catholics all worship the one true God (though of course our understanding of the Trinitarian nature of God is unique to Christianity). But if all three religions worship the one true God, how is calling God "Allah" within the context of Muslim/Christian dialogue, different from translating Catholic concepts into Protestant "language" in the process of evangelization?

It's important to keep in mind that the particular configuration of letters that represents the Holy One varies from culture to culture even among Christian peoples. Language is culturally distinct — "Gott," "Dieu," "Dios," "G_D," "YHWH." Defining terms, on the other hand, is a crucial part of cross-cultural communication. And in this case, for reasons mentioned in the article, we must make the most of our commonalities where we can find them.

"And His name shall be called 'Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace...'" He calls Himself: "I AM."

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Prayer for Minneapolis

Let's remember tonight all those whose lives were touched by the tragic collapse of the bridge over I-35 in Minneapolis this afternoon. At present, there are six known fatalities.

Our Lady of Sorrows, Oh, dear Queen of Peace,
Your children are calling out into the night
For comfort, for healing, for wisdom, in grief
Pray for us, stay with us, till God's untimely grace
Rains down in torrents from heaven.
Our brothers and sisters are suffering,
Let our hearts break with theirs ... and with yours.
In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.