TAU - USA Article

Accepting All People as A Gift of The Lord

From: Vatican II in Plain English

With Pope Francis, the Franciscan Family celebrates the 800th anniversary of the meeting of Br. Francis and Br. Illuminato with Sultan Malek al Kamil. Considering the Pope’s efforts, let’s take a moment to reflect on what the church has to say in regard to our active involvement with non-Christian religions.

From Book 3 (from a set of three books) entitled The Decrees and Declarations, I have excerpted certain quotes.

Book 3 – The Decrees and Declarations – Chapter 4, The Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions

(Although the “verses” below are written in psalm-scripture style in the book, I present them in paragraph form to save space.)

1 In our day and age, people everywhere are growing closer together, and their ties are becoming more profound, even when they are socially diverse.
Because of this reality, the Church is giving more attention to its relationship with non-Christian religions and, toward that end, gives primary consideration in this document to what unites all people and to what people have in common.
This furthers the Church’s task of fostering unity and love among people and even among various nations.
For we believe and teach that all men and women form one human family, have a common origin and God, and share a common destiny in divine Providence.
People naturally look to various religions to answer profound human questions: What does it mean to be human?
What is goodness? What is sin?
What makes us sad?
What is the path to happiness?
What does death mean?
What is beyond the grave?
What, in short, is the mystery of life?

2 People have long sensed the presence of the divine, however that is understood or defined. It seems to hover near us, mysteriously present in the events of life. We have variously known this as a supreme being - a divinity or heavenly sort of parent - and this has given people a religious sense.
In Hinduism for example, people contemplate this divine mystery and speak of it through myths and penetrating enquiry, seeking relief of human struggle through aesthetical practice, meditation, or movement toward God.
In various forms of Buddhism, too, people understand that the current situation is not sufficient and that there is a path for life on which people can reach greater freedom or enlightenment.
In many other religions around the world as well, people strive to relieve the restless hearts through religious practices and lifestyles that consist of teachings, rules of life, and sacred rights.
The Catholic Church does not reject anything that is true and holy in any of these religions and, in fact, looks upon them with sincere respect.
Even though they differ from us, their ways of life and doctrines often reflect the truth that we all seek.
The church of course, continues to proclaim Christ as “the way, the truth, and the life,” but we all exhort all our members to be prudent and loving and open to dialogue with others.
We urge Christians to defend and promote the spiritual and moral benefits found among other world religions, including the values found in their cultures.

3 We also appreciate the Muslems, who adore one God who, they believe, acts with mercy and power, who is our creator and sustainer.
They seek to obey God in the spirit of Abraham and Sarah, even when the divine decrees seem inscrutable.
Even though they do not believe in the divinity of Jesus, nonetheless they revere him as a prophet, and they honor Mary, his mother.
They wait with us for the judgment day, when God will give all their due, and therefore, they value a moral life and practice prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Even though we have had many hostilities between Christians and Muslims, we now urge all to forget the past and work for mutual understanding and peace.

4 This council also recalls the spiritual bonds that unite Christians and Jews: our common heritage in Sarah and Abraham.
We are the Church of Christ, but we acknowledge that the roots of our faith are in the spiritual ancestors, Moses, and the prophets whom we hold in common.
The very story of Christianity - that God is leading us to freedom - was foreshadowed by the journey of the Jews from bondage to freedom through the desert.
We cannot forget, therefore, that we receive divine revelation through the Jews.
… As Christians, we are rooted in Judaism, and we even believe that in Christ, Jew and Gentile were reconciled once and for all.
Mary herself was a Jew, of course, as we’re all the apostles, not to mention Christ himself - a faithful Jew. ...

5 It is really not possible to call upon God, the creator and sustainer of all, if we treat anyone less than lovingly.
The scriptures themselves say as much when they remind us that whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Hence, one’s relationship to God is intimately linked to one’s relationship to those around him or her.
There is absolutely no ground, then, to offer anyone less than full dignity and respect.
Therefore, we outrightly reject and abhor any discrimination against anyone based on race, color, condition of life, or religion.

We beg all Christians to be at peace and to maintain good relations with all peoples.

The Word of the Church

Mike Carsten OFS
March 13, 2019
— Vatican II in Plain English - The Collection

Assalamu Alaikum

Assalamu alaikum is the traditional Muslim greeting which is not something most of our sisters and brothers hear every day. Nor do we often hear positive comments when the name Allah is used in reference to God. There are in today's world, certain buzz words that catch our attention and give us pause that makes our anxiety rise. What is the conditioned response to our angst? Fear.  Keep people out. We must "build a wall".

My wife Kathy and I work and serve the poor on the streets of Detroit, a stone’s throw from the city of Dearborn.  Dearborn is home to the largest population of Muslims in the United States. If I have learned anything serving the poor on the streets of Detroit (which is so close to Dearborn), it is that poverty, misery, hunger, and fear know neither jurisdictional boundaries, nor recognition of or honor religious affiliations.

This past month, a young man volunteered with us as we served the poor. He is 19, a Muslim, and his family has sent him here from Turkey to escape the current political turmoil and violence in his homeland. He is a senior in high school learning our language and experiencing our culture. For this young adult's parents, the United States is viewed and used as "sanctuary". Coming to downtown Detroit and serving the homeless and poor was not anything that was on this young person's radar when his parents sent him here for an education. Yet here he was. How did he come to us? He was brought by another 19 year old high school senior who is here in Michigan from Poland. They both are looking to serve, and at the same time, experience a place of peace and community. Imagine!  A 19-year-old Catholic high school senior works side by side, hand in hand with a 19-year-old Muslim high school senior, serving those in need regardless of race, ethnicity, or religious affiliation, serving with volunteers who are Secular Franciscans, Southern Baptists, Romanian Orthodox, Lutheran, and agnostic.

Our Rule, Constitutions, and National Statutes call for us in our Ecumenical and Interfaith efforts to move beyond talk. We are called to follow the example of the young adults I have mentioned above and fearlessly move out into our communities

From our Rule, we read-

Secular Franciscans
therefore, should seek to encounter the living and active person of Christ in their brothers and sisters - Article 5
are stewards of the good received for the benefit of God’s children - Article 9
should set themselves free to love God and their brothers and sisters - Article 12
with a gentle and courteous spirit accept all people as a gift of the Lord and an image of Christ - Article 13
place themselves on an equal basis with all people, especially the lowly - Article 13
seek out ways of unity and fraternal harmony through dialogue - Article 14
trusting in the presence of the divine seed in everyone - Article 14
strive to bring joy and hope to others - Article 14
— Rule of Life - Secular Franciscan Order

We are called to set ourselves free to love God and our brothers and sisters - all of them.

It is my honor as the Ecumenical and Interfaith Chair to assist each of you to fulfill the plea of the National Fraternity.

O Breath of God, unite us in action!

2016-2017 Theme of the National Secular Franciscan Fraternity - USA

The Ecumenical and Interfaith Committee is here to help you in your journey, to encourage you to action, and then to help you tell your stories.

To empower you to "live the gospel of our Lord" and "make present the charism of our common Seraphic Father".

To that end we have created a new Ecumenical and Interfaith website, www.ofsusaecumenicalinterfaith.org.

The web site is active; the list below is our beginning. 

  • Calendar of events
  • Photo gallery for your Ecumenical and Interfaith photos
  • A page for each Committee component:
  •          Ecumenical and Interfaith
  •          Joint Community on Franciscan Unity
  • Interfaith prayer services for your use, and
  • Links with related information.

Yes - O Breath of God, unite us in action! 

Assalamu alaikum / Peace be upon you

Mike Carsten OFS

Ecumenical and Interfaith Committee Chair     

Our e-mail address – INFO@ofsusaecumenicalinterfaith.org          

Share with us your Ecumenical and Interfaith experiences, photos and stories.

Please let us know how we can help you.