Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
There have been several meetings referred to as a Parliament of the World’s Religions, the first being the World’s Parliament of Religions of 1893, which was an attempt to create a global dialogue of faiths. The event was celebrated by another conference on its centenary in 1993, again in Chicago. This led to a new series of conferences under the official title of the Parliament of the World’s Religions which have taken place since every few years in Kyoto, Cape Town, Barcelona, Monterrey, Melbourne, and this year in Salt Lake City.
In 1893, the city of Chicago hosted the World Columbian Exposition, an early world’s fair. So many people were coming to Chicago from all over the world that many smaller conferences, called Congresses and Parliaments, were scheduled to take advantage of this unprecedented gathering. A number of congresses were held in conjunction with the exposition, including those dealing with anthropology (one of the major themes of Exposition exhibits), labor, medicine, temperance, commerce and finance, literature, history, art, philosophy, and science. One of these was the World’s Parliament of Religions.
The 1893 Parliament, which ran from 11 to 27 September, marked the first organized gathering of representatives of Eastern and Western spiritual traditions. Today it is recognized as the occasion of the birth of formal interreligious dialogue worldwide.
I’m not with you this weekend because, as president of CADEIO (in my last year until April), I’m participating in the Catholic program that our Association has prepared for the 2015 Parliament. We have prepared seminars based on the newest developments in interreligious dialogue, especially the fresh approach that Pope Francis has encouraged based on relationship. I will be working mostly as a speaker in a seminar and a panel with the Sikhs, a dialogue between Catholics and leaders of the Sikh religion which I attended for the first five or six years that I came to Saint Mary.
It is a time that people of all religions are going to gather—about 10,000 people in all—to pray for peace, for harmony in our environment, for growth in understanding and conversation and renewed efforts to help alleviate hunger, suffering and violence through collaboration in what Pope Francis has called the “Dialogue of Action.” It is good to talk about it, it is even better to do something about it! Our goal is to start working on these social reforms together.
I will be the homilist at the Cathedral of the Madeleine at the Saturday Vigil Mass this weekend, and I will remember all of you and our parish’s hopes and needs in all these areas. My daily prayer for Saint Mary is that we will awaken to the presence of God who is so present to us though we don’t necessarily think of him, or remember his goodness toward us too often. We need to learn how to see him in our most difficult situations, in the most forgotten people, in serving those who need to know Jesus through us the most.
For those of you who have subscribed on the parish website for periodic announcements and reflections, I won’t be recording a homily this week, but will resume the weekend after.
This trip to Salt Lake City will be the final significant obligation I will have for CADEIO until after Easter! I’m so looking forward to things slowing down a little and just enjoying being a pastor. Also the several trips I have taken to Kansas have accomplished our family’s goal. We have prepared the farm for sale and now the remaining contents of the house will go in in auction later in November. I will still try to go home when I can for a couple days at a time to visit Mom.
Sunday the 25th we will begin a three-class series on Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato sí. If you would like to participate, you can download a copy free of charge in pdf format—please let’s start reading it so that our discussions will be meaningful. We will discuss the document the first two Sundays and plan a parish response in action to the document on the third. By the way, the words Laudato sí are the beginning of the prayer that Saint Francis really wrote—the Canticle of Creation:
Be praised, my Lord, for all your creation and especially for our Brother Sun, who brings us the day and the light; he is strong and shines magnificently…
God bless you.