Marists & Inter-religious Dialogue

Pope-meets-with-Ayatolla-Sistani Pope-Iraq-Ayatolla Sistani-Shia Leader

Our Superior General, John Larsen sm, met on-line with the Marist Commission for Inter-Religious Dialogue on Saturday 24 April.   The outline of his Presentation is below:  

Fr John Larsen [below centre], Michael Jacques [Tokyo], Larry Sabud [Ranong - Chair], Gerard Hall [Brisbane], Brendan Murphy [Atlanta], Kevin Medilo [Rome], Ben McKenna [Rome]

Dialogue and Encounter Needs to be Good News!

Matthew 15: 21 – 28.The Canaanite woman's faith

  • Jesus went to the district of Tyre and Sidon - foreign territory.
  • A foreign woman makes demands on Jesus and his disciples
  • Jesus struggles himself to accept this foreigner ("I came ONLY for the lost sheep of ISRAEL".)
  • He is dismissive, even rude … comparing her to a dog!
  • She dialogued with him and he was enlightened, he is presented as growing through the dialogue, and proclaims  -"How great is your faith!". 
  • Jesus grants the outsider the Healing she is asking for. 

Our world is greatly divided, often violently.

  • Financially – economic inequality.
  • Politically (Erdogan's Turkey, Bolsonaro's Brazil, Duterte's Philippines, Trump's America, ..) – rising nationalism.
  • Militarily – Yemen, Ethiopia (Tigray), Myanmar …
  • Ecologically – environmental threats.

Does religion create, tolerate, alleviate the violence?

Answer of Pope Francis :

Evangelii Gaudium - his Vision for the Church

Laudato Si' - his Vision for an Integral Ecology

Fratelli Tutti. - his Vision of Social and Political Love  

Marist Response (within the Church led for now by Francis):

Our charism: the Spirit of Mary … "poverty, humility, modesty, simplicity of heart and lack of all vanity and worldly ambition" (228).

Our mission:

Three responses in practice:

  • A. Traditional works in traditional places… carry on for as long as possible, graciously discerning when to stay, when to develop, when to let go.
  • B. Establishing small prayerful, inter-cultural communities among the poor, the youth, the migrants.("Omnes Gentes"). More enduring?
  • C. The intellectual mission, affecting academics, politics (civil and ecclesial), education, advocacy. (The Commissions)

How does inter-religious dialogue affect the mission of the Society?

Generally speaking, it is in harmony with our charism – openness (lack of all vanity and worldly ambition), simplicity, welcome for everyone (humility), non-judgmental.

And, specifically, within our mission?

  • A. Some Marists would have trouble seeing it having a high place against the demands of the pastoral/Sacramental challenges. ("I came for the lost sheep of Israel".)
  • Why leave the demands of the people here to go beyond?
  • Sometimes the reality is overwhelmingly negative … bombs in churches, cynicism,
  • However, IRD can nourish developing a greater missionary imagination. Dialogue of service and of life. Education, health-care, ecological projects, human rights' issues. We are converted by reflection on our experience.
  • B. More intentional – among the poor, the migrants and the youth. The inter-cultural communities are signs of dialogue by themselves. Dialogue of life and service.
  • C. The Commission for Inter-religious dialogue and reconciliation. Where does this fit in? (example of the Scalabrinians who re-imagined their ministry among Italian migrants to find new life by broadening the scope of their mission to migrants generally (and accepting vocations more widely) – 60 % "hands-on" daily-grind mission among migrants, 40% the intellectual mission serving migrants – university courses, government advocacy, Vatican cura, forums and seminars)

  • General Chapter 2017:
  • The Society shall "strive for a higher level of professionalism in missionary involvement through further education, research, teaching, publishing and advocacy, especially in the areas of inter-religious dialogue and reconciliation, work with ecology and work with migrants, for the wider Church and the world". (9b)
  • "Seek partners in mission, most obviously from the Marist Family, especially Lay Marists" (9d).
  • Prioritize "the needs of migrants and engage in ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue" (23).

 So, the tasks:

  • Your own on-going education and formation. (seeing "how great is your faith" and responding. (Matt. 15).)
  • Educating others. Who? Local church (seminarians, lay, religious, clergy) – the Society (everyone!), civil society. We do not have universities. How can we as Society of Mary make a contribution – as a body – to the world of ideas?
  • Needs to be substantial … as well as one-off courses. "Nothing so practical as good theory!"
  • Publishing.
  • For the Local Church, the Society of Mary, and the civil society.
  • It is very helpful that you are drawing on what is already happening in the Society. To develop that.
  • Working on further developing and encouraging a "spirituality of dialogue and reconciliation"

Questions for the Commission:

  • Could you establish one or two specific, achievable, clear, tasks to be in place within twelve months? 
  • Do you need more members for the commission? If so, what would be the profile and who?
  • How could you be reaching out to others through education? (Courses, on-line - blogs)
  • How could you be inspiring dialogue of service and life in wider Society, Church and civil society?
  • If we had a seminarian or committed lay-person with a passion for this mission, what do have in place to encourage him or her?
Towards a Marian Integral Ecology
Contemplative Marist Living
 

Comments 4

Guest - Paul Walsh on Monday, 26 April 2021 10:53

Thanks John, thanks Ben, thanks to themembers of the commission whokeep this vital area of mission before our eyes. I have been very struck sincecoming to Toulon by the passion and sensitivity that Olivier Laurent has in regard to respectful dialogue with Muslims in this area, and the contrast with a dominant culture that is anything but respectfuland dialogical ... The outline of your presentation, \John, opens up a whole series of interesting perspectives to be developed ...

Thanks John, thanks Ben, thanks to themembers of the commission whokeep this vital area of mission before our eyes. I have been very struck sincecoming to Toulon by the passion and sensitivity that Olivier Laurent has in regard to respectful dialogue with Muslims in this area, and the contrast with a dominant culture that is anything but respectfuland dialogical ... The outline of your presentation, \John, opens up a whole series of interesting perspectives to be developed ...
Ben sm on Tuesday, 27 April 2021 07:17

Great to have this support from you Paul. Yes, the work that Olivier Laurent has done over the years seems to be outstanding - right on the prophetic edge: full support for him. Our little commission is going slowly, hoping for a solid foundation, on which we can build a living parable or two. ..... Blessings on you all there!

Great to have this support from you Paul. Yes, the work that Olivier Laurent has done over the years seems to be outstanding - right on the prophetic edge: full support for him. Our little commission is going slowly, hoping for a solid foundation, on which we can build a living parable or two. ..... Blessings on you all there!
Guest - Jim Duffy on Monday, 26 April 2021 16:53

Thanks John,Ben,
I am sending this to our faith formation director and to our Peace and Justice committee at OLA.
(Our Lady Of Assumption, Georgia,USA
Jim Duffy

Thanks John,Ben, I am sending this to our faith formation director and to our Peace and Justice committee at OLA. (Our Lady Of Assumption, Georgia,USA Jim Duffy
Ben sm on Tuesday, 27 April 2021 07:20

Great to hear from you Jim! I can see that great things are happening in OLA Atlanta: full credit and congratulations for all you and your Good People are doing to help make the Reign of God flourish in real and practical ways! Full support from here.... Ben

Great to hear from you Jim! I can see that great things are happening in OLA Atlanta: full credit and congratulations for all you and your Good People are doing to help make the Reign of God flourish in real and practical ways! Full support from here.... Ben
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Saturday, 15 May 2021

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