Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Taking a brief break, there are a couple of wonderful things to report from today’s sessions so far.

The first was a fascinating three-way presentation (by a Christian, a Jew and a Muslim) on how we read our own (and each other’s) Scriptures.  The most enlightening thing for me, and I am sure for many, was the way in which the Muslim imam knew (without, as he insisted, being a Biblical scholar) the stories of the Bible as well as the Qur’an.  He was also clear that Sharia’ offers general principles only—there is nothing in the Hadith (the sayings of the Prophet) about cell phones, for example.

And the Jew (a rabbi) reflected on her understanding of oral tradition as well as Torah in Judaism (though the Mishnah and Talmud are now written down, they reflect oral discussions on applications of Torah). 

So although the Christian (a Methodist) did not refer to this notion, it is clear that from a Catholic point of view a major source of agreement in approach between Catholics, Jews and Muslims is the role of oral tradition/interpretation.  This is not a small thing to note.

Our keynote speaker today was Fr John Borelli (who will be coming to Christus in Mobile later).  He reflected on some of the “back-stories” prior to and during Vatican II (this is the 50th anniversary of its being convened).  He was a world of knowledge, having known many of the “players” personally and having worked with them.

This leads me to a question I was asked at supper last night:  given that this coming year is being proclaimed by Pope Benedict as “The Year of Faith,” in concert with Vatican II’s golden anniversary, is there any way that the documents can actually be taught to folks in parishes that would get their attention?  I had to think about this for a minute or two, before answering, “Yes, I think so—depending upon how the presentations were set up.”  And I have been reflecting on this possibility for our autumn/winter Adult Religious Education sessions.  For example, a pivotal document is Nostra Aetate, on the relation of the Catholic Church to non-Christian religions.  In it is a crucial and truly revolutionary section on our relations with the Jews.  Surely, if we could host a session or two on this document in conjunction with the synagogue or the temple (or at least the rabbis), this would be a wonderful experience for us all.

So (in the words of Radar O’Reilly)—“Wait for it.”  Please God, this will happen and will be a positive learning experience for us.
As for later this afternoon and tomorrow—who knows?!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Fr. David, for your fine post. This is such important work ... and we're doing it in Mobile, too, with Trialogue!