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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Field Trip to Bahai Temple- Ecumenism



Last Sunday a group of us went to the Baha'i Temple here in Chicago. It made me think deeply about where I find God and where God is. First a little about the Baha'i faith. As you can see the structure is beautiful. I picked up a very nice brochure about the principles of their religion. They are:

  • Elimination of all forms of prejudice
  • Equality between men and women
  • Harmony of science and religion
  • World peace upheld by a world government
  • Spiritual solutions to economic problems
  • Universal education

These principles look much like those found in Catholic Social Teaching. Imagine the changes that could be brought about to make the world a better place for all people if we sought solutions together rather than fight over our differences--at times myths of one faith or congregation about another.

The inside of the temple, the only one on this continent was a very quiet and peaceful prayer space. A place where many people find the quiet and peace they need.

As a Catholic Christian, I appreciate the gift that is shared at the temple yet I felt a longing to be in the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It is so much part of my daily life and as the constitutions of the Daughters of Charity says,"The Sisters are conscious of the vital importance of the Eucharist, center of their life and mission and an indispensable meeting each day with Christ and their brothers and sisters" (C 19b).

Even though the Eucharist is a powerful, essential part of my life where I connect with God--it is not the only place. I find God in the scriptures. I find God in my interactions with others. As a Vincentian, I believe that Christ is present in a special way in those who are poor. I also believe God is present in other faiths. Each faith is made up of humans and so will be filled with human frailty, but do we judge God's love and presence by the sinfulness of some?

The Holy Land is sacred to Christians, Jews, and Muslims. It has been fought over for centuries! I think it is fitting that the most sacred piece of land is claimed by us all. Maybe there is a message buried in there for us all if we but open our hearts to those who seem so different from ourselves.

Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of faith You have given me. Thank You for the gift of Yourself in the Eucharist. Thank You for speaking to the many nations in so many ways. I pray that we may see Your hand working and that we may become unified in Your love for humanity. May we respond to Your call that all persons be respected and honored as Your children. Amen.

3 comments:

  1. The Holy Land is also sacred to members of the Baha'i Faith. The Baha'i World Center is located in the Haifa/Acho area, most especially on the slopes of Mt. Carmel.

    I invite you to read the prayers of Baha'u'llah.

    Sincerely,
    dlherrmann

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  2. It took me a little while to get the comment above translated by someone. It is basically: Happiness is a birth right; it should not depend on what you accomplish.

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  3. Your message from this posting is one that becomes clearer and clearer to me with every experience that I have. The chaplain at a local highschool used to take students on an annual prayer crawl around the city, we would stop at different places of worship (synagogues, mosques, temples, and various Christian churches) as well as at various community locations such as city hall, youth for Christ, YMCA etc... The whole point of the trip was just to pray for one another, for more understanding amongst the various view points so that we can work together to make the world a better place. I normally joined the prayer crawl as a special guest and I remember that it really challenged me to be more open to people who did not hold the same beliefs as me.

    I did many odd jobs to put myself through university that brought me into contact with people from various religious backgrounds. Your posting in particular reminds me of a Baha'i family and a Jewish family that I worked for as a nanny and of a elderly Mormon couple that I dug a pond for. Its amazing how many things we have in common even though on the surface our faiths appear to be so vastly different.

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