Catholic Church: January 2005 Archives

Whether in religious order in in order of intellect and mind, a most joyous and blessed Feast Day. May your actions today give cause for St. Thomas to rejoice before the Lord on your accouont.

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For all the Saints. . .

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or at least a great many of them--this link.

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Many others may be interested in reading some of the more serious work of this well-known priest. Here.

Note the following excerpt from the lengthy essay "The Apologetics of Beauty."

from "The Apologetics of Beauty"
Fr. Andrew M. Greeley

Beauty is the strongest asset of Catholicism. A number of surveys have recently indicated that the most powerful marks of Catholic identity among both the young and the old are service to the poor, the Eucharist, the presence of God in the Sacraments, and Mary the Mother of Jesus. We also have learned that frequent church attendance among Catholics correlates much more strongly with participation in both the fine and the lively arts than it does for Protestants. Liturgy, even badly done (as it usually is)opens Catholics up to the beautiful beyond the church building. When men and women return to the Church after a long time of trying to "fall away," the most important thing for them is to be able to go to Mass again. The sacraments are works of high beauty - the birth of a child, the consumption of a family meal, prayers at the bedside of the sick, the joining of the bodies and souls of two people in love, reconciliation after conflict. Small wonder that, even badly administered, they have a strong attraction for Catholics and are integral to the Catholic identity. It is the very beauty of the sacraments which disposes them to dispense grace. They give grace efficaciously because they are grace-full.

As I have said before, perhaps not here and perhaps not so clearly, I find his fiction execrable, horrendously written and burdensome, but there are moments and even long stretches of great felicity in his work on the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith.

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The Church teaches that we are to engage in dialogue with other faiths. We are not to be syncretic, incorporating whatever it is we like. Nor are we to engage in wishful thinking about what other faiths truly think and believe.

However, how does one carry one a dialogue in ignorance of what other faiths believe? How can we show the path to the fullest revelation of God, if we have no notion of where a believer of another faith is with respect to God?

I've always been intrigued by Eastern Religion. This may be because they are so utterly alien to the western mind. It may be because they systems that are so ancient and hence partial, incomplete, revelations of God's will.

The passage that follows came to hand by an act of serendipity (providence) and it clarifies for me some of the misapprehensions that have been acquired through years of inaccurate schooling.

from Dancing with Siva
Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

Do Other Gods Exist Apart from Siva?

Sloka 21

Supreme God Siva has created all the Gods and given them distinct existence and powers, and yet He pervades them wholly. They are separate but inseparable. At the deepest level, nothing exists apart from Him. Aum.


God Siva is the Supreme Being, the Lord of lords. He alone prevails everywhere. Not an atom moves except by His will. Ganesa, Karttikeya, Indra, Agni and all the 330 million Gods of Hinduism are beings just as we are, created by Lord Siva and destined to enjoy union with Him.

Reading this dispelled vague notions instilled by past courses of Hinduism as a polytheistic system. It is admittedly quite different from Christian belief, and any comparisons between the two are likely to strain on system or another. For example if one were to liken Hindu Gods to Angels, it would probably not convey the fullness of what Hindus believe about their Gods. So, it is not possible to compare one on one. But it is fascinating that a system that boasts of 330 million deities boils down to the statement that "nothing exists apart from Him." Right there, the Christian and the Hindu have a common ground for conversation and for beginning to explore the truth. What precisely does it mean for this to be so. If all other Gods are created beings who partake of His divinity, then what is it that they are most like in a Christian system of thought.

Ignorance precludes evangelism. We needn't believe what the Hindus believe, but it were best to understand it lest our communication be insulting and immediately off-putting with respect to sharing the common truths of our faiths. The most frequent mistake in evangelism (that I have seen) is arrogance and a presumption of superiority that alienates the person being approached from the truth. "Be ye as cunning as serpents and as harmless as doves." Speaking to a person of another faith, particularly a faith we do not understand, it is best to have a grounding, to really listen to what the person says before we start laying the truth on them. Perhaps they already know something of the truth. Perhaps they already know of a supreme God without whom nothing at all exists, without whose every thought being itself would collapse.

I don't know why this occurred to me today, but I was looking through a modern Hindu Catechism and was struck by how much that was there is reminiscent of much of Catholic teaching--the purpose of sex in marriage, the necessity of the preservation of chastity before marriage, the belief in one God.

But then there are great chasms between us--Hindu teaching holds that there is no intrinsic evil in the world. (Now we might get into a debate about what is meant by "intrinsic evil"; however, my brief reading has made clear that even if I acknowledge that everything was created good, I am still miles away from what a Hindu seems to hold true about creation.

Nevertheless, it is interesting to hear how the voice of God has made itself heard, even if differently, and to our ears indistinctly, outside of His central and definitive revelation in the persons of the Chosen People and in the single person of the Lord of All, the Incarnation, the Crucified.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Catholic Church category from January 2005.

Catholic Church: December 2004 is the previous archive.

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