November 15, 2014 ~ Saint Albert the Great, opn!
1.Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost—Benedict Baur, O.S.B.
3.The Christian Family (27)
4.Articles and notices
There is an excerpt below from the Huffington Post, a News source that is blatant in its anti-Catholic and immoral world view that glories in proclaiming the triumphs over traditional Christianity and the progress of the demoralization of society, trumpeting the movement faithful Catholics of declared as the beginning of the American brand of the Vatican II spirit and false ecumenism. Having printed this information in a traditional Roman Catholic publication in the early 70’s (which it was) one would say it was done by those who always see a conspiracy behind everything. But 40 years later, it can be printed by those who promoted the false ecumenism of Vatican II as “we worked for this all along” without a raised eyebrow among Conciliar Clergy or laity. Please read it, not as a Catholic breakthrough for progress, but as a breakthrough into the Catholic Church to destroy its infallibility and indefectibility by a false authority to lead Catholics not to salvation but to “peace” by accepting all faiths as a reflection of “God’s” Truth—because “God” dwells in man since man is “God”.
If someone has a copy of the Catholic Voice series on the World Parliament of Religions, it might do well to reprint the article.
As always, enjoy the readings and commentaries provided for your benefit. —The Editor
WEEK OF TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Benedict Baur, O.S.B.
The God of peace
- Holy Mother the Church is mindful of all her children and loves them all. It is her desire that all of them attain eternal life, and in this desire she includes even the people of Israel, once God’s chosen people. In the last days they are to return to the Lord, for He is a God of mercy and peace.
- “At that time, as Jesus was speaking to the multitudes, behold a certain ruler came up and adored Him, saying: Lord, my daughter is even now dead; but come lay Thy hand upon her, and she shall live. And Jesus, rising up, followed him with His disciples. And behold a woman, who was troubled with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind Him and touched the hem of His garment. For she said within herself: If I shall touch only His garment, I shall be healed. . . . And the woman was made whole from that hour. And when Jesus was come into the house of the ruler and saw the minstrels and the multitude making a tumult, He said: Give place; for the girl is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed Him to scorn. And when the multitude was put forth, He went in and took her by the hand. And the maid arose” (Gospel). How kind and merciful the Lord is! How effective was the prayer of Jairus and the woman afflicted with the issue of blood! Jesus is the Lord of life and death.
For the liturgy the dead girl “is a symbol of the people of Israel, dead to the graces of salvation since they rejected the Lord (Matt. 27:20-25). The Lord, however, “thinks thoughts of peace” (Introit), thoughts of mercy and salvation. When appealed to, He rises and goes to restore an unhappy people again to the life of grace. While He is on His way to restore life to the dead girl, an ailing woman intervenes. In the mind of the liturgy the woman with the issue of blood represents the pagans who come to Christ. The Lord pauses to cure the ailing woman before He enters the house of Jairus to restore life to his daughter. The liturgy implies that the pagans will receive salvation through Christ first, and then only will the people of Israel submit to Him. “For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of this mystery, . . . that blindness in part has happened in Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles should come in” (Rom. 11: 25). But God “will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:4). Men are guilty of innumerable sins and defects; but at the end of time there will be peace. The Lord will forgive the sins of His children, and they shall return to the house of their Father. “You shall call upon me and I will hear you; and I will bring back your captivity from all places” (Introit). How good and how merciful is our God!
“I think thoughts of peace,” thoughts of mercy, reconciliation, and salvation, although the people have been unfaithful and have crucified and rejected their high priest, Jesus Christ. These words apply to us the baptized, who are represented in the Gospel by the woman who was troubled with the issue of blood. How many and what rich graces have been given to us during the year of grace which is now drawing to an end! Our conscience urges us to repentance for our lack of cooperation with these graces. How negligent we have been in the use of the rich graces that have been given to us! Has God not had ample reason for rejecting us, as He once rejected His chosen people? But He has not done so, and He gives us the assurance: “I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction” (Introit). In spite of the vast number of sins, negligences, and faults of the past year, we still hear His message of peace. The Lord will forgive us all our sins if we but call upon Him.
“You shall call upon Me, and I will hear you; and I will bring back your captivity from all places.” Our plea is for mercy and for forgiveness. With penitent and contrite hearts we cry out: “Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord; Lord, hear my prayer; out of the depths I have cried out to Thee” (Offertory). Without contrition and penance on our part, the Lord cannot grant us the forgiveness we seek.
- “If I shall touch only His garment, I shall be healed.” We touch the hem of His garment as often as we contritely confess our sins to His representative, the priest. We touch Him, His very flesh and blood, when we receive Holy Communion. How fortunate we are in being members of the Church of the New Testament! We are healed of our infirmities and receive the gift of eternal life.
Remit, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the sins of Thy people, that by Thy kindness we may be delivered from the trammels of our sins, in which through our frailty we have become entangled. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
“Thy kingdom come”
- “Our conversation is in heaven, from hence also we look for the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ” (Epistle). Holy Mother the Church awaits lovingly the return of the Lord, her bridegroom. Ever since that eventful day when He ascended into heaven, she has kept her vigil, expecting Him presently to reappear to summon her to her eternal nuptials. She prays in the Credo of the Mass: “I confess one baptism for the remission of sins. And I expect the resurrection of the dead.”
- “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be like to ten virgins, who, taking their lamps, went out to meet the bridegroom and the bride” (Matt. 25:1). The Lord gave us many beautiful descriptions of the Church while He was still upon earth, but none surpasses in beauty and charm the one in which He describes the kingdom of God in the parable of the ten virgins who go forth to meet the bridegroom. One thought possesses their souls, and all their attention is directed to one end: not to miss the coming of the bridegroom. How eagerly they look forward to his coming! They are swept away with the desire to greet the bridegroom and to enter with Him into the bridal feast. Yes, indeed, that is a true picture of the Church, which is the bride of Christ. She awaits with eager longing the coming of the Lord. What has the world to offer her? Her attention is fixed on her eternal goal. “Our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Church is filled with desire and longing for the coming of this Savior. Her children greet one another with the salutation, Maranatha—”May the Lord come” (I Cor. 16:22); and she often sighs, “Amen, come Lord Jesus” (Apoc. 22:20). With eager desire she prays: “Lord, remember to deliver Thy Church from all evil and to perfect it in Thy love, and from the four winds gather it together, the sanctified one, into Thy kingdom, which Thou hast prepared for it. For Thine is the power and the glory forever. Let grace come, and let this world pass away.” [The Didache, chap. 10.] Even the terrible disasters of the last days will only serve to increase the longing of the Church.
“And I expect the resurrection of the dead.” The Church awaits the resurrection of the dead with absolute confidence and without dread. This she does with good reason, for Christ her head has already risen to eternal life, thus giving His mystical body unshakable confidence in its own resurrection. If we remain living members of the mystical body, our resurrection is likewise assured. Indeed, the fulfillment of this desire has already begun, for even here on earth we share already in the divine life, which will be unfolded in its perfection in heaven. Likewise our resurrection and our glorification in heaven have already begun in the person of Christ our head. “In God shall we glory all the day long; and in Thy name we will give praise forever” (Gradual). We trust in God’s assurance: “I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. . . . I will bring back your captivity from all places” (Introit).
- “Our conversation is in heaven.” A future of happiness and blessing awaits us. Of what importance, then, are the trials of this present life? What wonder, then, that in those ages of the Church when men lived in continual expectation of the coming of Christ, a generation of martyrs arose, which with true heroism despised the goods and honors of this world and trampled them under foot, and gave their life and their blood in order to gain Christ and eternal life! What wonder that such an age could produce a generation of virgins, strong, mortified, and pure, such as Cecilia, Agnes, and Agatha! They understood well what it meant to go forth to meet Christ. Do we understand as well?
“And if I shall go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself; that where I am, you also may be. . . . These things I have spoken to you that My joy may be in you, and your joy may be filled” (John 14:3; 15:11). We who are incorporated in Christ will experience the fulfillment of these promises in the time that is to come.
The day of Christ’s coming, the day of our death, may be sooner than we expect. Are we prepared for it? Are we prepared to meet the bridegroom with burning lamps? Or have our lamps gone out for want of oil? We must always be prepared for the coming of the bridegroom, for we “know not the day nor the hour” when He will come to call us to the bridal feast of heaven.
Remit, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the sins of Thy people, that by Thy kindness we may be delivered from the trammels of our sins, in which through our frailty we have become entangled. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
St. Gertrude the Great, Virgin
- St. Gertrude of Helfta (frequently mistaken for the abbess of Helfta who died in 1292) was born in Thuringia in 1256. At the age of five she was sent to the convent school at Helfta, where she received an excellent spiritual and religious training. Entering this convent she began, at the age of twentysix, to live a life that was intimately affected by the liturgy of the Church and was mystically blessed by a mysterious, tender familiarity with Christ. Her two writings, “Ambassador of Divine Love” and “Spiritual Exercises” give an impressive view of her pure, childlike, amiably simple yet noble and powerful soul, with its glowing love. (Book 2 of the “Ambassador” is Gertrude’s own work; books 3, 4, and 5 were written under her direction; book 1 was composed by the nuns of Helfta shortly after her death.) Gertrude’s writings exercised great influence on the development of the Sacred Heart devotion. The probable date of her death is 1302.
- “I know no other content but clinging to God, putting my trust in the Lord, my Master; within the gates of royal Sion I will be the herald of thy praise” (Introit; Ps. 72:28). As a young nun Gertrude took delight in study. At first she cultivated the so-called liberal arts, but later took up the study of Holy Scripture and the Church Fathers, particularly St. Augustine and St. Gregory the Great. On January 27, 1281, she enjoyed her first vision of our Lord. From this moment on she hew nothing but Christ, the Beloved of her heart. There was a tender exchange of love between them. Our Lord imprinted the marks of His wounds upon her heart and mysteriously exchanged hearts with her as a symbol of His indissoluble mystical marriage with her. When she was thus one spirit with Him, our Lord revealed to her the secret treasures of His love. Repeatedly He opened His heart, the instrument of merciful redemption and the mysterious furnace of ineffable human-divine love, to the ecstatic gaze of His spouse. She is thus rightly counted among the first founders of the modem devotion to the Sacred Heart.
On one occasion, when St. Mechtild saw Gertrude walking up and down and always looking up at the image of His face, our Lord assured her: “Such is the life of my chosen one; she always walks before me, ceaselessly desiring to recognize the good pleasure of my heart. When she has seen something as My will, she hastens to carry it out at once. That is why she keeps turning to Me, seeking to know My will, and thus her entire life gives Me honor and glory.” Gertrude was a wonderful bride for Christ, being so intimately bound to Him that Our Lord assured her sisters: “Nowhere can you find Me more truly than in the Sacrament of the altar, and then, in the heart of My lover, upon whom I have poured all the joy of My divine heart” ( cf. “Ambassador” I, chap. 3).
“Within the gates of Sion [the Church] I will be the herald of thy praise.” Gertrude became a holy praise of God in the midst of her sisters. They testified that she was a “strong pillar of religious life,” and they listed these points as proof: holy recollectedness that could not be disturbed by any external activity; heavenly unction and dedication that breathed from all her works; meek lovability which won all hearts; profound humility which made her consider it a miracle of God that the earth should bear such an unworthy sinner as herself; admirable patience throughout her protracted illnesses; abundant love of God that burst into mighty flame on any occasion, to give light and warmth to all around her; unsullied innocence that transfigured her whole being. All this splendor of virtue drew Gertrude’s companions to imitate her. Nor was the zeal of her charity bounded by convent walls; it reached to all who were in any need. Her great heart’s words and prayers brought many sinners to repentance, and her tender sympathy brought comfort to the sick and troubled, who were also effectively helped by her gift of miracles. She was a source of many great blessings for her time and she continues to benefit the Church through the centuries by her admirable life and writings, her spirit, and her powerful intercession with her Lord and heavenly Bridegroom.
- “O thou worthy spouse of Christ, splendid in the light of prophetic gift, inflamed with the zeal of the apostles, crowned with the diadem of the virgins, consumed by the fire of divine love” (Antiphon at Benedictus). Do thou obtain for us the grace to love our Lord truly, above all else!
St. Gertrude was a true daughter of St. Benedict, governed by the spirit of a free heart which, liberated from all that is not God, “runs its course rejoicing, like a giant” (Ps. 18:6), in the impetuous force of love of God, full of enthusiasm and joyful desire for suffering. “The lover flieth, runneth, and rejoiceth, he is free and cannot be restrained. He giveth all for all, and hath all in all; because he resteth in one sovereign Good above all, from whom all good floweth and proceedeth . . . . Love feeleth no burden, thinketh nothing of labors … conceiveth that it may and can do all things” (Following of Christ: 3, 5).
Collect: O God, who didst prepare for Thyself a pleasant abode in the heart of Thy holy virgin Gertrude, let her merits and pleadings move Thee to wash away the sins by which our hearts are stained, and grant us fellowship with her in bliss. Amen.
THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY
By MOST REV. TIHAMER TOTH
ATTEMPTS TO JUSTIFY BIRTH CONTROL
- And now I can almost hear some of my listeners say: “It is easy for him to talk from the pulpit, because he does not know life.” The truth is that I do know life. And I know the sad and distressing side of life.
I acknowledge that, because of the hard material conditions prevailing today, many families have every right to fear the arrival of more children, because they have no means of supporting them.
1) What can we tell them, when in their bitterness they hardly know what they are saying?
“Hard and heartless is the Catholic view,” they say. “Is there not enough misery already on this earth? Why, there is no bread for those who are now living. And then comes Christianity and declares that it is a sin to safeguard oneself against having children. Has the Church no heart, no commonsense?”
I have presented the accusations made in all their uncompromising hardness that you may see how well the Church knows all these things. How could she fail to know what privation falls to the lot of very many families today? How could she fail to feel compassion for all those who suffer in unmerited misery? How could she fail to know that many pious families are brought to an awful parting of the ways by economic misery?
2) To avoid all misunderstanding, we must state plainly that the Church does not declare that parents should irresponsibly bring as many children as possible into the world. There are families able to bring up eight or ten children respectably, and there are others who cannot afford more than two or three. The Church sees that this is so. But she cannot permit the limitation of the number of children to take place by a sinful interference that desecrates the home. A family that for some good reason does not wish to accept more children, need not accept them. But then the married couple must avail themselves of continence and not of sinful means.
Of course, this very proviso is the reason why so many begin to speak of the lack of Catholic sexual ethics, of Catholic matrimonial bankruptcy, of the untenability of the Catholic matrimonial ideal, and so forth.
The modern man likes to hear about everything, about everything but with one exception. He does not wish to hear a word about self-control. The man who has learnt to rule the unbridled forces of the material world, has forgotten how to rule himself. He has forgotten, yes, he may even deny that in the spheres of both material and intellectual culture every great work in the past was accomplished by self-denial and renunciation.
3) When holy Church uncompromisingly demands moral purity in conjugal life, she does not cease to demand in behalf of the family the material conditions that make such purity possible.
If we acknowledge that present-day economic adjustments make it difficult for many devout families to keep God’s law, it does not follow that it is permissible to give a twist to that law; rather, the economic situation is what must be altered. God’s law is eternal; man may not touch it. But the various forms of earthly adjustments are not eternal, they depend on us. If the sun and my watch do not agree, I cannot give a twist to the sun; but I can adjust my watch.
Decidedly a great deal needs to be done by legislation. Even today there are persons who do not provide for a family, but who in a single night spend on amusement more than would suffice to keep a family with many children for a number of weeks. Therefore when the Catholic Church courageously advocates the acceptance of children and by so doing serves the best interests of the nation, civil legislation should not look on impotently at the strenuous exertions made by the Church on behalf of the child, but should aid families with many offspring’s to greater prosperity, by a number of legislative measures such as educational subventions, tax reduction, the distribution of situations, the establishment of settlements, and the like.
- Others advance reasons of health why they should not accept more children. “Children make one old, they sap the mother’s strength, perhaps even cost her life,” some people say.
1) Whenever I hear such fears stated, whenever I hear of young wives who fear children because they “make them old,” the declaration of a famous French physician occurs to me. A lady complained to him of the strangest symptoms of disease. The doctor only asked her one question:
“Madam, how many children have you?”
“Three,” replied the patient.
“Well,” answered the doctor, “as soon as you have five children all these symptoms will disappear of themselves.”
Marvelous is the power of a helpless little child. How it draws its parents’ hearts closer day by day! How the grownups again become smiling children while occupied with their own little ones! How a mother talks to her little child in a language never heard on land or sea! How carefully and proudly a father takes his child in his arms! And how all care is smoothed from the faces of both adults, how tender their eyes become, when they look into the eyes of their child!
This is the rejuvenating power of the child, which protects its parents from premature old age, from ill-humor, from weariness of life. In the home where no childish laughter rings, old age finds an early entrance; the souls of childless married couples become victims of arteriosclerosis more quickly than do their bodies.
2) “But I do not want to fade prematurely because of frequent child-bearing,” some young women may object.
What shall we say to them? You have seen at dawn on a day in May a fruit tree glorious with blossom. Delighted with its own beauty, it bathes in the early sunshine. This symbolizes a bride standing at the altar.
Beautiful is a young tree in the glory of its full flowering. But it is still more beautiful when the petals have fallen that fade so quickly and signify only external beauty, and in their place the fruit appears; and the mother tree stands in the wind and tempest, defying the cold and the heat, tirelessly imbibing rain and sunshine that, when autumn comes, she may stand there with the burden of a splendid harvest. If only every young woman and wife, fearing for their beauty, would reflect that the tree white with blossoms in spring is indeed beautiful, but that the noble beauty and purpose of the tree is to bear fruit.
3) It is true that this harvest sometimes involves danger. The child’s life sometimes involves danger to the mother’s life. But precisely in these desperately difficult situations we see how faith and trust in God produce heroic types of spiritual greatness. The type of mother who does not allow the destruction of the unborn little life, even when serious danger threatens herself. The type of heroic soul whose life-principle is: Do all that you possibly can do, all that is not in opposition to God’s law; and then when you have done all that is humanly possible, place your life in the hand of the Lord of life and death. The type of heroic mother who is convinced that no one ever regretted obeying God’s law, even at the cost of great sacrifice.
Yes, there are also victims of the maternal vocation; and our holy religion dips its flag before these martyrs of their vocation and believes that St. Paul’s promise is fulfilled in them, the promise according to which mothers shall be saved through childbearing (1 Tim. 2:15).
My dear brethren. I have spoken of things that are painful, of which it were best to keep silent, if by silence one might cure this dreadful cancer of modern life. Is that too strong an expression?
But what other expression can be used when we read in a married couple’s writings such things as this: “Right at the beginning we agreed that we do not want any children. Without children we can be much freer. We are still young, and we want to enjoy something of life. Later on we can always think of having a child.”
Is conscience dead in such people? Do they not know of the account they owe to God for such things: do they not feel at least the awful sin that they commit against their nation? The nation is not composed of mountains and plains, factories and railroads. The nation is made up of strong and moral human beings.
“Later on we can always think of having a child.” It is dreadful to think what treasures are lost to the nation because of this awful idea. If the mothers of an earlier age had thought thus, then Mozart would not have been born; because he was the fifth child of his parents. Rembrandt would not have been born; he was the sixth child. Wagner was the seventh, Napoleon the eighth, Schubert the thirteenth, Franklin the seventeenth child.
My brethren, listen to the warning words of holy Church. What does the Church of Christ require of us?
Nothing but that once again everyone should speak with reverent respect of a mother awaiting the birth of her child, on whose brow shine the rays of the Virgin Mother’s crown.
What does the Church of Christ require? Nothing but that everyone should protest against married couples who prefer to bring up cats and poodles rather than children.
What does the Church of Christ require? Nothing but that every husband and wife should hear the Master’s words: “He that shall receive one such little child in my name, received me.” And lastly, what does the Church of Christ require? Nothing but that St. Paul’s promise may be fulfilled for more and more mothers, that as often as they bring children into the world, so often do they gain merit for themselves in life everlasting. Or as a proverb expresses it: “The number of blooms on your own rose-tree, the number of pearls in your crown shall be.”
Do you understand, brethren? Do you hear, dear mothers?
This is the final message of today’s sermon: “The number of blooms on your own rose-tree, the number of pearls in your crown shall be.” Amen.
To be continued.
The Ever-Growing Religious Movement That Doesn’t Get Enough Attention
The Huffington Post | By Antonia Blumberg
Posted: 11/07/2014 10:30 am EST Updated: 11/07/2014 10:59 am EST
Along with politics, poverty and culture, religion is often cited as a source of conflict throughout the world. However, the last 100 years reveal a growing interfaith movement in America — one that promotes peaceful and productive interactions between religious traditions.
And it all began with a fair.
The 1883 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, IL drew millions of visitors to the windy city over its six-month run. Among its 5,978 educational addresses and meetings was the World’s Congress of Religions, which hosted religious leaders from all over the world.
The congress marked the first organized, international gathering of religious leaders and is thought to be the nascence of formal interfaith dialogue. Hindu monk, Swami Vivekananda, spoke at the congress, greeting the 5,000 assembled delegates with the iconic words, “Sisters and brothers of America!”
A CENTURY OF INTERFAITH DIALOGUE
One of the first international groups to get organized after the fair was the International Council of Unitarian and Other Liberal Religious Thinkers and Workers — now the International Association for Religious Freedom — formed in London in 1900 with the stated purpose of uniting all those striving for fellowship and religious liberty.
With the outbreak of World War I other interfaith efforts emerged. The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) formed in New York just after war began in hopes of bringing people of faith together to promote peace, and it went on to become a leading interfaith voice for non-violence and non-discrimination.
With the second World War on the horizon, the World Congress of Faiths formed in London with the dual purpose of bringing people of faith together to enrich their understandings of their own and others’ traditions and also to educate and report on religious happenings through its journal, Interreligious Insight.
Following the devastation of World War II and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Christian missionary Carl Allison Evans founded the New Jersey-based Fellowship in Prayer as a multi-faith organization that would use prayer and meditation to foster peace.
In addition to the work of humanitarian organizations, renowned world leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and the Dalai Lama, inspired by their own faiths, promoted religious, racial and political freedom. Many scholars say the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, in particular, demonstrated the organizing power of congregations working together for social change, under the guidance of religious leaders like King marching side by side with Abraham Joshua Heschel.
[Picture where] Leaders in a Vietnam war protest stand in silent prayer in Arlington National Cemetery, Feb. 6, 1968. Front row, from left: Rev. Andrew Young, executive vice president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Bishop James P. Shannon, Roman Catholic auxiliary bishop of Minneapolis and St. Paul; Rabbi Abraham Heschel, professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York; the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
In 1962 the Catholic Church took a giant step forward in interfaith relations by convening of the Second Vatican Council. Before Vatican II, Catholics were discouraged from visiting other faiths’ houses of worship — but this all changed with the Nostra Aetate. This document, which officially took effect October 28, 1965, acknowledged the divine origin of all human beings and the truths present in other religions. It stated: “We cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God.”
Many organizations followed the Vatican’s lead over the next few decades. Religions for Peace, based in New York and accredited to the United Nations, officially kicked off in 1970, and the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington formed in 1978.
First formed in 1960 the Temple of Understanding helped publish the first directory of interfaith organizations in 1987 and over several years hosted meetings that paved the way for the North American Interfaith Network (NAIN), which was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1990.
A CENTURY LATER
By 1988 nearly 100 years had passed since the World’s Congress of Religions and Vivekanada’s historic speech. A group of religious leaders and local organizers in Chicago came together to plan a centennial celebration, and through this the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions came into being.
In 1993 the Parliament hosted its conference in Chicago with 8,000 participants from faith backgrounds around the world. The organization went on to host meetings around the world every several years, and in September 2014 announced its first U.S. conference since 1993, to take place in Salt Lake City in 2015.
The late late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago addresses the audience at the 1993 Parliament meeting.
The 1990s also saw the birth of interfaith groups focused on the environment, including Green Faith in 1992 and Interfaith Power & Light in 1998. These efforts put ecological sustainability at the core of their faith-based activism.
With the growth of interfaith dialogue came increased academic and sociological interest in the ways pluralism affects religious life. Harvard University’s Diana Eck launched the Pluralism Project in 1991 to chart the development of interfaith efforts throughout the United States. And in 2001 the Pew Research Center initiated its Religion & Public Life Project to explore the intersection of religion and public life.
INTERFAITH’S NEW MILLENNIUM
Interfaith work expanded exponentially around the globe in the 1990s and 2000s with the formation of interfaith, multicultural efforts like the Interfaith Center at the Presidio (1995), Chicago-based Interfaith Worker Justice (1996), the Interfaith Center of New York (1997), the United Religions Initiative (2000), World Council of Religious Leaders (2002), Interfaith Youth Core (2002), the Charter for Compassion (2009) and President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge (2010).
Students participate in an Interfaith Youth Core “Interfaith Leadership Institute” at Northwestern University in 2014.
The increase in interfaith awareness has played out in individuals’ lives. Interfaith unions have increased from 20% of all marriages in the 1960s to 45% of marriages in the first decade of the new millennium. More and more Americans are exploring and questioning their own faith, as well, making “unaffiliated” the second largest religious category after Christianity, according to Pew Forum.
Despite the long history of interfaith dialogue, religious intolerance is still a concern that threatens to undermine the hard work of devoted activists over the decades. Religious literacy is dangerously low in the United States, even among the faithful. At a time when Islam is particularly prominent in public discourse, only 38% of Americans say they actually know someone who is Muslim.
Interfaith dialogue can change this.
As Swami Vivekananda said in an 1886 address on “Practical Vedanta”:
“The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body, the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him — that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.”
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