Kargador at Dawn

Kargador at Dawn
Work in the Vineyard

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fr. Massignon on Reconciliation...

Fr. Louis Massignon’s clear message to effect peaceful relations and reconciliation with those of other faith traditions is to begin by opening our own minds and hearts to conquer our fear of differences. He spoke often of the need to “cross over” to the “other”, to learn their language, study their beliefs, practices and culture as the beginning of mutual respect and understanding. In the process of learning to truly know others, from the inside out so to speak, we find that our own values and belief systems become more defined and clear. Our faith experience is enhanced rather than diminished. The goal of “substutionary prayer”, of “Badaliyya”, is to see the face of Christ in every human person and learn to love them as Christ loves us.

As Christians we are challenged to overcome centuries of misinformation and prejudice that we have sometimes even unconsciously absorbed. In one of his books the Fransiscan Fr. Giulio Basetti-Sani writes about his own journey of studying the condemning writings of the scholars of his time about Islam and Muhammad and approaching Louis Massignon with those ideas. He wrote:

“Once, when Professor Massignon was in Cairo, I went to see him at the French Institute of Oriental Archeology.... Only someone who has known Massignon can fully imagine his reaction to my ideas. His usual grave expression changed to a smile like the lighting of a lamp and his eyes twinkled. He said, ‘The medieval world taught that Muhammad was a messenger of Satan and that the Allah of the Qur’an was not the God of Abraham. We should not do to others what we would not have them do to us’.

Basetti-Sani quotes much more than this as he describes how, following Massignon’s advice, he began to move in a totally different direction in what became years of Islamic studies. He wrote: “Islam is a mystery linked with the blessing obtained by Abraham from God for his son Ishmael and Ishmael’s progeny. This line of thought, derived from the Bible, is the one to take in order to grasp the significance of Islam.... Before we parted, Massignon gave me two thoughts meant as guidelines in my reorientation, one from St. Augustine, ‘ Love sees with new eyes.’ and the other from St. John of the Cross, ‘ Where there is no love put love, and you will find Love Himself’. It was true, my eyes had seen badly... Later, when my eyes were to see clearly, I would discover in Islam and the Muslims the reflections of the infinite goodness of God”. (From Basetti-Sani.1977. “The Koran In the Light of Christ”)

On the Silence of God...

It is necessary that we find the silence of God not only in ourselves but also in one another. Unless some other person speaks to us in words that spring from God and communicate with the silence of God in our souls, we remain isolated in our own silence, from which God tends to withdraw.

The inner silence depends on a continual crying in the night, a repeated bending over the abyss. If we cling to a silence we think we have found forever, we stop seeking God and the silence goes dead within us. (Thomas Merton)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Short Reflection on Poverty...

The poorest person in a religious community is not necessarily the one who has the fewesat objects assigned for his /her use. Poverty is not merely a matter of having "things". It is an attitude which leads us to renounce some of the advantages which come from the use of things.

A person can possess nothing, but attach great importance to the personal satisfaction and enjoyment he/she wants to get out of things which are common to all.

Often the poorest person in the community is the one who is at everybody else dispostion. He/She can be used by all and never takes time to do anything special for him/herself. (Thomas Merton)