Thursday, April 27, 2006

Sant'Egidio, Peace and Prayer

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of John Paul II's historic gathering for peace at Assisi, Sant'Egidio has brought the Peace prayer to the US for the first time here at Georgetown University. I have had the great experience of being here and participating this week. It is surely the most astounding gathering of religious, government and humanitarian leaders in years. Talks, Panels and prayer have been truly wonderful. There is a definite holding up of Andrea Riccardi's theme that war is the mother of all poverty. The US administration sent a State Depart under-secy who clearly knew nothing about the groups she was addressing and gave an offensive call for fighting the terrorists that have eluded her government's grasp. She was received politely. But the overall tenor and dedication, along a true inter-religious and ecumenical reality is astounding and give great hope to this war and poverty ridden world. Pray that the message is spread by all.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Easter: The Greatest Mutation

In his homily at the Easter Vigil in St Peter's Basilica, Benedict XVI used a very striking and innovative way of talking about the Resurrection. After dismissing the notion of a resuscitated corpse, he used a fundamental concept of evolutionary theory to establish a whole new way of imaging the Resurrection:

If we may borrow the language of the theory of evolution, [the Resurrection] is the greatest "mutation", absolutely the most crucial leap into a totally new dimension that there has ever been in the long history of life and its development: a leap into a completely new order which does concern us, and concerns the whole of history.

Has there ever been a more powerful and imaginative articulation of how science and faith can provide each other with insight and brilliance?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Provokes

The idea that millions believe that life comes forth from even the most grisly death stands in a defined contrast with so much that compels our attention in the world and its culture. Death and destruction, a demonic assault on life, human rights and the opportunities of peoples would have believe the worst about ourselves and our neighbors. Yet today there is a graphic testimony of millions who have not surrendered to that deadly resignation. Somehow we continue in a search for better ways to bring that vision of transformed life into reality. It is truly a season of contrast and challenge. For me personally, it also means another go with the cancer that lurks within and which now claims my full attention in this season. As we all pray for ourselves and our world, please also pray that I can accept my illness and the treatments that will begin shortly.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Image: The Collar: Jonathan Englert

Image: The Collar: Jonathan Englert A good friend , Jonathan Englert, has just published a wonderful book which chronicles a year in the formation of 5 men who are preparing for priesthood. The book is full of insight into the human and faith filled dimensions of the vocations described. Jonathan does a superb job and I am sure you will enjoy and relish this book - just out now.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Prayer Study

The recent flurry about the study on the effectiveness of prayer for sick people needs to have at least 2 of its inner factors immediately clarified: 1) it was the prayer of one stranger for another without the personal ties of friendship, family or even names; 2) it used the concept of intercessory prayer as almost an effort to change God's mind. I saw an image of a God strongly decided on finishing off someone and then someone begged him to change his mind and let the sick person survive. I know there are many, many notions of prayer but I would just suggest that when I pray for someone by name, I am simply expressing my love and concern for that person on the deepest and highest level I know of - the presence of God. Just as I do not think of God as some sort of puppeteer playing with our fates, I do not pray that he will change his ways or his mind. All authentic prayer is about acceptance of God, his will, my destiny and thanksgiving for all of God's gifts.