Why the name?

"Holy Conversation" does sound like an exceptionally pious name, even for a parish blog. And we can't guarantee that everything here will meet the high standard the name implies. But the phrase comes from the story of our patron saint, and we think it fits. Here's why.

St. Scholastica was a sixth-century abbess who, according to the Dialogues of Pope Gregory I, used to meet once a year with her brother, St. Benedict. On the last occasion they were together, they spent their time "satisfying each other's hunger for holy conversation about the spiritual life."

We hope that this blog can become a place where the members of our parish can find a taste of the companionship and conversation that Scholastica and Benedict enjoyed so much. Welcome!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Faith & Politics, Part 3

A dozen parish members and guests gathered for our final session in the series on a cold wintry evening.  This time, we got a picture before we said goodbye.

In this session, called "Practically Faithful,"  we tried to answer two main questions:

How do we deal with the differences among us?
How do we move toward integrity? 

First, we considered spiritual practices that might help us.  Among the ones the group raised were meditation, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist, and any other kinds of prayer that "open us up" to others.

Then we spoke of interpersonal practices that might help us overcome differences.

One example came from Katharine Hayhoe, a Texas Tech climate scientist, who illustrated a Haidt-type approach to talking with people who did not believe in climate change in this video:

I noted that, in this and other videos, Hayhoe is clear about her Evangelical Christianity as well as her stance on climate science.  By being open about her own life, she acts as a bridge to scientists (who may believe that Christianity is opposed to science) and evangelicals (who may not realize that their faith is compatible with science).

Another practice is "fraternizing with the enemy," illustrated in the story of  Marci Velando, a pro-choice California woman who marched in the West Coast March for Life to support her friends, a group of Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.  Whenever we cross boundaries and get to know people with different views, we are doing something to counter some of our current political polarization.  I shared a little of my experience as a participant in both the Women's March on Washington and the March for Life this year.

It is valuable also to notice, as Gandhi did and Pope Francis clearly does, that no one person or group possesses the whole truth.  Rather, we need each other in order to move closer to the truth.  I cited as an example how, at the recent synods on the Family at the Vatican, Pope Francis gave the bishops room to share ideas and debate opinions, without controlling their discussions.  This is a significant departure from Vatican practice at such synods, which have often been tightly controlled.

Finally, I recalled the "seamless garment" image that Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago used in the 1980s.  In the Wade Lecture of March 11, 1984, Cardinal Bernardin said:
There is, I maintain, a political and psychological linkage among the life issues—from war to welfare concerns—which we ignore at our own peril: a systemic vision of life seeks to expand the moral imagination of a society, not partition it into airtight categories.
Similarly, in On Care for Our Common Home (Laudato Si'), Pope Francis called for an integrated approach:

That is why it is no longer enough to speak only of the integrity of ecosystems. We have to dare to speak of the integrity of human life, of the need to promote and unify all the great values. [224]
In the current American political framework, this is very difficult, with political parties that emphasize certain concerns of Catholic social teaching, but are far afield on others.

In the end, we had to recognize that our efforts to prepare the way for the coming of the Reign of God will always fall short.  This is not a reason to give up, but a reason to open ourselves to God's mercy expressed in Jesus.  We ended our session standing in silence for several minutes before this image of Jesus Pantocrator (the Ruler of All) from the great basilica of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and, once more, we chanted the Lord's Prayer together.

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