Reflection after joining Online course – Evangelii Gaudium
By Susana Sitaresmi Kusuma Wardhani
Shalom Asian Lay Leaders Forum, Thank you so much for allowing me to join with your first lecture Joy of the Gospel as a summary of Evangelii Gaudium from our Pope. Your explanations really helped me to understand about my faith and the presence of our Catholic church is not self-centered but reaching out for the poor people.
Your lecture about Evangelii Gaudium taught me the new concepts about integral human development and our church as a field hospital. I see the profound connection between evangelization and human development which much necessarily finds expressions and development in every work of evangelization and encourages all Christians to demonstrate it by their words, attitudes and deeds.
Only after which, we can make dialogue with science, society and have a conversation with other religions and our faith by not opposing them, but by knowing what we should do in our community and our life as a member of the Catholic Church.
After attending the first session, I realized how afraid our churches are and why we need the apostolic letter of the Pope to make us realize the true meaning of the gospel. Amid the pandemic a large part of the people in my parish have gone into hiding, refusing to serve others, even from the safety of their own homes. It seems as though we have made the pretext of the pandemic and the danger contracting the corona virus a reason not to help others.
I also realize that we are surrounded by the sick. Not just their bodies but also their souls and faith. But People today have lost the motivation to serve anymore. The altar boys and girls do not commune anymore, even via smart phones. Their parents refuse to allow them to serve in the church, even when the pandemic was slowing down a couple months ago.
Parents don’t see that the children’s spirits need to be together with their brothers and sisters who are fading away. And somehow it feels as if there is no way for us to grow it again. I feel hopeless. If the children who were active in the church are beginning to leave, then who is left to become the next generation of the Catholics? How are we going to help them? or cure them?
On the other hand most people believe that the virus exists only If they themselves or their close relatives have suffered from it, badly. If not, then the virus doesn’t exist.
Which is risking the life of the doctors and nurses who are trying to make them stay at home or isolated in the hospital.
If our children have not found a huge barrier in their life where they feel the need to return to the church, then what can we do?
I realize, just like a field hospital as Pope Francis has mentioned, we should do 2 things at once: (1) Is to be opened for the sick, opened to the possibility of contagions, opened to be dirty and poor, opened to the possibility of being an object of anger and frustration of the people we care for; and (2) to seek for the sick and to bring them into our field hospital, our church, to be cared for.
Reflection on “Online All Forum Course on Interreligious Dialogue”
by Salman Maseeh
A general notion and a nature of dialogue is to sit at one table, communicate with people, groups, communities, cultures etc. we have to be very clear in our mind and thought that dialogue does not mean in the strict sense only between believers but with nonbelievers too.
The real purpose of dialogue is to create harmony, unity, sincerity, reverence for persons and base it more on true human relationships. Pope Paul VI writes about dialogue under apostolic aspect in the Encyclical Letter ‘Ecclesian Suam’ “It is by means of dialogue in the sense that the Church performs its chief function in preaching the Gospel, to all men, giving them in a spirit of reverence and love the gifts of grace and truth which Christ deposited with it”. There is one Greek Philosophical saying “Human being are alive because they participate in God” in other words it means that they dialogue with God, but when we compare these words with Holy Bible the tone is totally changed because not only human being participate and dialogue with God but God also participates and takes initiative in entire humanity and dialogues with them. There is another saying that dialogue is in the nature of God.
When we see in the Sacred Scripture, we come to know that God formed man in his own image and put him in the Garden of Eden and gave them command saying man you are free to eat from every tree of the garden but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you should not eat. But men disobey God and commit sin against him. Further we see when they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Lord God. But God called to the man, and said to him, where are you? It is just one example but there are so many references and stories in the Sacred Scripture where we can see God dialogue. Man can live without communities, cultures, religions etc, but he cannot live without having dialogue
When we talk about “Interreligious Dialogue” it should involve mutual gives and take. In Vatican II “Humanae Personae Dignitatem” it mentions that the objective of dialogue is that one should come closer to the other side and should understand it better.
There are also some forms of dialogue mentioned in “Humanae Personae Dignitatem” which says that dialogue should be established only in terms of human relationships, destined to liberate. Dialogue should be established in the realm of truth involving discussion of problems and achievements by common efforts for a better grasp of truth and extension of knowledge. The pastoral Constitution “Gaudium et spes” discusses dialogue with the world as “The preaching of the Gospel is not immediately in question here. Rather it is a dialogue which Christians wish to establish with men, who do not to share their faith, either or in order to search together for the truth in different areas, or in order to solve the more urgent problems of our day by social action”.
I want to conclude while giving congrats to All Forum’s Programs in which they prepare topics relating to Theology, Church Teachings and at the presently a very important topic for social life, to share culture and especially for the course namely “Interreligious Dialogue”. All Forum is providing and giving a platform to Asian Laity as well as Religious who are interested to learn. All Forum Online Course also gives us an opportunity to learn, reflect, share our views and work for the common good.
By Nomi Munir, Theological Institute of Laity, Pakistan
congratulate ALL forum for this online course. This is a good way to bring Asian Lay leaders together and to train them for leadership. This online course provides an opportunity for the lay to reflect and share their views at the Asian level. The topics “Documents on Vatican II”, “Basic Understanding of Church Teachings”, “Basic Theology on the Lay People in the World” has been introduced in a very convincing way to bring the lay leaders to reflect and think about the role of laity in church and society.
Mainly this course has led us to discover what the scripture says, what it means, how it applies to our lives, and how to respond appropriately to its message. This is also helpful in the formation and expression of godly character, qualities and essential Christian attitudes in keeping with scriptural emphasis. This course has also provided and directed us in the development of a Christian lifestyle in obedience to the will of God and the pattern of Christ and has also encouraged us to live it with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Theology is one of the fundamental ways through which the laity of the church can understand, think carefully and live out what they believe. Theology speaks more about Him, His glorious, powerful, and great works such as creation, providence, redemption etc. The church is God-centered, first it invites us to come towards God and then go to people for proclamation of His glory. Theology does not exist as a knowledge but motivates us to serve and practice the teachings in our daily life.
No doubt theology is the attempt to know God more deeply. But it leads us deeper in worship, personal transformation, and more effectively in church ministry. It is also more practical because we learn about God, we know Him and we come closer to Him, we get to share and practice God’s love with others as well as empty ourselves and accept others. It teaches us to interact with people from different cultural backgrounds, ethnicity, different church ministries and invites the lay leaders from different places to understand the laity and church in different perspectives.
In addition, developing relationship with other people is the foundation for change. Connections and accepting people with different ethnicity is key in building communities that are powerful to spread and practice the teachings of different beliefs.