Kargador at Dawn

Kargador at Dawn
Work in the Vineyard

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Beatitudes....

The Beatitudes as inspired by the original Aramaic
(Matthew 5: 3-12)

(Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven)
Fulfilled are those who devote themselves to the link of Spirit;
the design of the universe is rendered through them

(Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted)
Healed are those who weep for their frustrated desire,
they shall see the face of fulfillment in a new form.

(Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth)
Healthy are they who have softened what is rigid within,
they shall be open to receive the splendour of earth’s fruits.

(Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied)
Happy are they who long deeply for a world of right relationships,
they shall be encircled by the birth of a new society.

(Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy)
Healthy are they who from the inner womb birth forth compassion,
they shall feel its warm arms embracing them.

(Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God)
Happy are they whose passion radiates with deep abiding purpose,
they shall envision the furthest extent of life’s wealth.

(Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons and daughters of God)
Healed are those who bear the fruit of sympathy and safety for all,
they shall hasten the coming of God’s new creation.

(Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven)
Healing to those who have been shattered within – from seeking wholesome rest,
theirs is the ruling principle of the Cosmos.

(Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you)

Blessed are you when you are reproached and driven away by the clamour of evil on all sides, for my sake. Know deep joy even in your loss for this is the secret for claiming your expanded home in the universe; it is a sign of the prophets and prophetesses to feel the disunity around them intensely.

(D. O'Murchu based on Neil Douglas-Klotz, Prayers of the Cosmos, HarperSanFrancisco, 1990,pp.44-76)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rey Roda, OMI - God's Witness in the Archipelago of Tawi-Tawi

We have three cases of bloody murder in the Vicariate of Jolo within the last ten years. The Vicar, Bishop Benjamin de Jesus on February 4, 1997, OMI, Fr. Benjamin Inocencio, OMI on December 28, 2000 and Fr. Jesus Reynaldo Roda, OMI on January 15, 2008. To the eyes of the world, these deaths may appear senseless and incomprehensible. But to people who believe in the ministry of presence, the lives and deaths of these three missionaries are, indeed, not in vain and without meaning.

Linguistically speaking, presence is a noun, not a verb. It connotes a state of being, not doing. States of being are not highly valued in a culture which places a high priority on doing. Yet, true presence or ‘being with’ another person carries with it a silent power, that is, to bear witness to a passage, to help carry an emotional burden or to begin a healing process. In it, there is an intimate connection with another that is perhaps too seldom felt in a society that strives for ever-faster ‘connectivity’.

To the three OMI martyrs of the Vicariate of Jolo, it was not their ‘doing’ that had, in a sense, precipitated their murders in the hands of the lawless elements of the Provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. It was their ‘being with’ their people and communities that had become a powerful witnessing beyond words and actions. Bishop Ben in the whole Vicariate of Jolo, Fr. Benjie in the islands of Mapun and Jolo and Fr. Rey in Tabawan journeyed with their people with endearing smile, innocence and passionate love. Often these values were clearly revealed in their testimony of fidelity to their religious call that is often translated in simply “just go, just be there and just live with your people”.

For Rey, the journey of presence began in the Archipelago of Tawi-Tawi in the southernmost part of the Philippines. It started in the island of Batu-Batu and would end in the island of Tabawan. It was a presence among the poor Sama people. Often, it was a powerless presence with his community for whom he could “do” nothing.

He walked, sat and ate with friends. There were times that he was pulled by the urge to do more than be, yet repeatedly struck by the lack of resources. Paradoxically, it was during these times of powerlessness that he discovered the healing power of connection created by being fully there in the quiet understanding of another. In it, no one is truly alone.

Every night, he sat in the small chapel of the rectory and felt the presence of him who had called him to become a priest and a missionary. There, too, in the presence of the Lord, he journeyed and sat with his confreres, particularly missionaries living alone in the other islands of the Archipelago of Tawi Tawi and Sulu. In that silent and lonely island, Fr. Rey painstakingly discovered the power of presence that was not a one-way street, not only something missionaries give to others.

It is said by the old missionaries in the Archipelago that the islands and the communities always change them, and always for the better. In Tabawan, there are two powerful witnesses of this mutual transformation and enrichment. The first was the ‘Bapa’ of Tabawan, Fr. Leopold Gregoire, OMI who lived and journeyed with the Sama people for nearly 20 years and second was Fr. Jesus Reynaldo Roda, OMI who walked and sat with his Sama friends for nearly ten years. Both missionaries were changed and definitely, it was for the better.

The life of Fr. Rey amid the Sama people was a witness of being with the weak, the poor and the marginalized. He found this the hard way, often, in turmoil questioning over and over again why the poor continue to suffer not only of man-made disasters but also natural ones. Why the poor are often the victims of almost total neglect by the ‘powerful’ and by seemingly endless calamities? Their anguish and the cry of the poor DO NOT reach God!

In a mysterious way, it was in the isolation and poverty that have always characterized Tabawan that led to a disclosure that God is NOT the all powerful one that he was taught from catechism to the liturgies. The God revealed to him in the island, especially in the night of his murder, was all weak, so helpless and so poor.

But was this not message both of the manger and the cross? Yes, God is not only so poor and weak, but also a suffering one and dying on the cross. Is this not the real meaning of Emmanuel - his presence, God’s birth into the world? God is NOT the all powerful one! Much less is He the all TRANSCENDENT One. Definitely, the God revealed by Jesus in the Manger and the Cross is NOT a sort of a SUPERNATURAL DEITY!

It was a tragedy that raised hard question in the mind of many missionaries similarly situated about the rationale of missionary presence and work in those remote and very isolated places in the Vicariate. Yet, everyone knows that there are no answers to that question. And there is no understanding that would come either by way of theology or any other way.

There were few times, that men in the OMI Philippine Province challenged the Provincial Superior and the Bishop of the Vicariate on the question of the rationale of the missionary presence in those remote and seemingly ‘God forsaken’ islands in the Vicariate. Since in the economy of God’s salvation, all are saved by God’s mercy and compassion!

Yet what the mind cannot fathom, the heart can understand. Only in faith, hope and great love, can people begin to understand such presence, such heroism and even such senseless death. Rey, Ben, Benjie and the rest of the OMI colleagues in the same mission have that faith, hope and great love!

Such presence and ministry elude understanding when approached through the mind. In fact, they are senseless! That kind of life and ministry can only be approached through the heart. Akin to a mystery, it can only be understood in faith hope and love!

Rey was a friend and a comrade in the struggle during the dark years Marcos Dictatorship. Yet, deep beneath was the real Rey formed by the faith of his mother and father - a simple and trusting faith that gave meaning not only to his priesthood and religious life, but also to his presence and work in Tabawan.

Though painful and sorrowful, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate take pride in the OMI Philippine Province because in her womb have emerged people like Bishop Ben de Jesus, Fr. Benjie Inocencio and now Fr. Rey Roda who paid the ultimate price for the values and beliefs close to their hearts. They were not brave men, but because of the love for their people and the trust in God, they were able to muster enough courage to silence the fears in their hearts.

There rises from deep beneath the heart of people who heard the tragic news a shout of anger for this madness. Yet it is an anger that is easily consumed by the fire of love that urges each OMI to hold his head high. BELIEVE and continue that kind of presence and ministry even without understanding yet clinging to hope that they have NOT died in vain and that their lives do MAKE sense!!!

We remember Rey and his tragic death, yet we have hope in our hearts that one day the whole community of Tabawan, the whole Vicariate of Jolo, nay the whole creation shall all be re-united with the ‘fallen’ in God’s kingdom. Only in God‘s kingdom shall we see the sense f all these tragedies. It remains a mystery in the midst of God’s great love shown in the martyrdom of his only begotten Son as paralleled by the great generosity of spirit of the slain. (Jun Mercado, OMI)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Dhikr for the 16th week of the Ordinary Time (B)

“When Jesus disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.” (Mark 6: 34)

Jesus’ challenge to us, today, is to do likewise… to have compassion for the people we are sent to minister…



Dhikr is an Arabic word for remembrance. In the “tariqa” (the way) movement, dhikr developed into a form of prayer… It is a prayer of the heart… following three simple steps:

1. Write in one’s heart a certain passage of the Holy Writ…
2. Make the same passage ever present in one’s lips.
3. Then wait for God’s disclosure on the meaning of the passage…that interprets one’s life NOW…!

It takes a week of remembering (dhikr)…or even more days to relish the beauty of this method…

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dhikr for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

“She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and
touched his cloak. She said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I shall be
cured.’ Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body
that she was healed of her affliction.” (Mark 5: 27-29)

In our journey through life, we, too, have experiences of healing
touches… Like the woman in the gospel, we do say… ‘if but touch his
clothes, I shall be cured.’ And healing begins…!

Dhikr is an Arabic word for remembrance. In the “tariqa” (the way)
movement, dhikr developed into a form of prayer… It is a prayer of the
heart… following three simple steps:

1. Write in one’s heart a certain passage of the Holy Writ…
2. Make the same passage ever present in one’s lips.
3. Then wait for God’s disclosure on the meaning of the passage…that
interprets one’s life NOW…!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Dhikr for the Trinity Sunday (B)

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19-20)

Trinity Sunday reminds us that we are “sealed” by our baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This “seal” is manifested in our common FELLOWSHIP and COMMUNION by our baptism – regardless of color, race, belief, language and gender.

Dhikr is an Arabic word for remembrance. In the “tariqa” (the way) movement, dhikr developed into a form of prayer… It is a prayer of the heart… following three simple steps:

Write in one’s heart a certain passage of the Holy Writ…
Make the same passage ever present in one’s lips.
Then wait for God’s disclosure on the meaning of the passage…that interprets one’s life NOW…!

It takes a week of remembering (dhikr)…or even more days to relish the beauty of this method…

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Benedict XVI's Farewell Address to Palestinian Authority

"It Is Necessary to Remove the Walls That We Build Around our Hearts"

Mr. President,

Dear Friends,

I thank you for the great kindness you have shown me throughout this day that I have spent in your company, here in the Palestinian Territories. I am grateful to the President, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, for his hospitality and his gracious words. It was deeply moving for me to listen also to the testimonies of the residents who have spoken to us about the conditions of life here on the West Bank and in Gaza. I assure all of you that I hold you in my heart and I long to see peace and reconciliation throughout these tormented lands.

It has truly been a most memorable day. Since arriving in Bethlehem this morning, I have had the joy of celebrating Mass together with a great multitude of the faithful in the place where Jesus Christ, light of the nations and hope of the world, was born. I have seen the care taken of today's infants in the Caritas Baby Hospital. With anguish, I have witnessed the situation of refugees who, like the Holy Family, have had to flee their homes. And I have seen, adjoining the camp and overshadowing much of Bethlehem, the wall that intrudes into your territories, separating neighbors and dividing families.

Although walls can easily be built, we all know that they do not last forever. They can be taken down. First, though, it is necessary to remove the walls that we build around our hearts, the barriers that we set up against our neighbors. That is why, in my parting words, I want to make a renewed plea for openness and generosity of spirit, for an end to intolerance and exclusion. No matter how intractable and deeply entrenched a conflict may appear to be, there are always grounds to hope that it can be resolved, that the patient and persevering efforts of those who work for peace and reconciliation will bear fruit in the end. My earnest wish for you, the people of Palestine, is that this will happen soon, and that you will at last be able to enjoy the peace, freedom and stability that have eluded you for so long.

Be assured that I will continue to take every opportunity to urge those involved in peace negotiations to work towards a just solution that respects the legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike. As an important step in this direction, the Holy See looks forward to establishing shortly, in conjunction with the Palestinian Authority, the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission that was envisioned in the Basic Agreement, signed in the Vatican on 15 February 2000 (cf. Basic Agreement between the Holy See and the Palestine Liberation Organization, art. 9).

Mr. President, dear friends, I thank you once again and I commend all of you to the protection of the Almighty. May God look down in love upon each one of you, upon your families and all who are dear to you. And may he bless the Palestinian people with peace.

Benedict XVI

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Triduum Meditation: The Scapegoat!

On the Day of Atonement (see Leviticus 16:21 – 22) a goat was brought into the sanctuary. The high priest would lay his hands on the goat and all the sins and failures of the people were ceremonially laid on the goat, and the goat was sent out into the desert to die.

What immediately follows from the scapegoat story of Leviticus 16 is what is called “The Law of Holiness” (Leviticus 17 – 27), which largely defines holiness as separation from evil—which is exactly what they had just ritualized.

Three thousand years later human consciousness hasn’t moved a great deal beyond that, despite the message of the cross. Jesus does not define holiness as separation from evil as much as absorption and transformation of it, where in I pay the price instead of always asking others to pay the price.

We, who worship the scapegoat, Jesus, became many times in history the primary scapegoaters ourselves: Jews, heretics, sinners, witches, homosexuals, the poor, other denominations, other religions.

The pattern of exporting our evil elsewhere, and righteously hating it there, is in the hardwiring of all peoples. After all, our task is to separate from evil, isn’t it? That is the lie! Any exclusionary process of thinking, any exclusively dualistic thinking, will always create violent people on some level. That I state as an absolute, and precisely because the cross revealed it to me.

The crucifixion scene is our standing icon stating both the problem and the solution for all of history.

We would all agree that evil is to be rejected and overcome; the only question is, how? How can we stand against evil without becoming a mirror—but denied—image of the same? That is often the heart of the matter, and in my experience is resolved successfully by a very small portion of people, even though it is quite clearly resolved in the life, death and teaching of Jesus.

[Jesus gives us] a totally different way of dealing with evil—absorbing it in God (which is the real meaning of the suffering body of Jesus) instead of attacking it outside. It is undoubtedly the most counterintuitive theme of the entire Bible.

What has happened in human history is this. We have always needed to find a way to deal with human anxiety and evil by some means—and it was invariably some “technology” other than forgiveness.

We usually dealt with human anxiety and evil by sacrificial systems, and that has largely continued to this day.

Historically, we at least moved from human sacrifice to animal sacrifice, to various modes of seeming self-sacrifice. Unfortunately it was not usually the ego self that we sacrificed, but most often the body self as its vicarious substitute. In forgiveness, it is precisely my ego self that has to die, my need to be right, to be in control, to be superior. Very few want to go there, but that is exactly what Jesus emphasized and taught. I am told that forgiveness is at least implied in two-thirds of his teaching!

As long as you can deal with evil by some other means than forgiveness, you will never experience the real meaning of evil and sin. You will keep projecting it over there, fearing it over there and attacking it over there, instead of “gazing” on it within and “weeping” over it within all of us.

The longer you gaze, the more you will see your own complicity in and profitability from the sin of others, even if it is the satisfaction of feeling you are on higher moral ground.

Forgiveness is probably the only human action that demands three new “seeings” at the same time: I must see God in the other, I must access God in myself, and I must see God in a new way that is larger than “an Enforcer.”

[Christianity] is the only religion in the world that worships the scapegoat as God.
In worshiping the scapegoat, we should gradually learn to stop scapegoating, because we also could be utterly wrong, just as “church” and state, high priest and king, Jerusalem and Rome, the highest levels of discernment were utterly wrong in the death of Jesus. He was the very one that many of us call the most perfect man who ever lived!

If power itself can be that wrong, then be careful whom you decide to hate, kill and execute. Power and authority are not good guides, if we are to judge by history. For many, if not most people, authority takes away all of their anxiety, and often their own responsibility to form a mature conscience.

(Richard Rohr, OFM from Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, p.194 )

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Passion (Palm) Sunday

Holy Week begins on "Passion (or Palm) Sunday" which joins the foretelling of Christ's regal triumph and the proclamation of the passion. The connection between both aspects of the Paschal Mystery is shown beginning from the commemoration of the entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem to his journey to the Calvary where Jesus willing assumed to be the ransom for our sins.

According to ancient custom, the celebration of Palm Sunday begins with a solemn procession, in which the faithful in song and gesture imitate the Hebrew children who went to meet the Lord singing "Hosanna."

The palms or olive branches are blessed so that they can be carried in the procession. Then the faithful bring home the palms where they serve as a reminder of the victory of Christ which they celebrated in the procession.

The second drama of the celebration is the proclamation of the passion of the Lord. The passion narrative occupies a special place in the liturgical celebration. This is the first proclamation of the Lord’s passion in the Liturgy thus the name Passion Sunday.

The triumphant entry to Jerusalem is contrasted to the journey to Calvary. Both journeys show the character of the crowd which in many ways represents, too, our own fickleness and flaws. The former is presented as a triumph where the crowd and children sang “Hosanna” acclaiming Jesus as Messiah and Lord. The latter shows the same crowd shouting “Crucify him” and dissociating themselves from him who offered his own life and dying in the cross in ignominy.

In similar vein, the challenge today to all Christians this Holy Week is to locate themselves between the two contrasting dramas unfolding in Jerusalem. Definitely, there is a clear disconnect between the celebration of the Lord’s triumphant entry to Jerusalem and the proclamation of the Lord’s passion that ends on Good Friday. But the same disconnect is, often, echoed in our confession of faith and the concrete witness of our actions vis-à-vis the same faith.

But when everything is said and done, we simply stand in awe at the beauty of the Passion Sunday celebration. It proclaims that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. His passion and death assumed our sins and has opened the mystery of God’s incomprehensible mercy and pardon. Jesus’ self-expenditure in the Cross has become the powerful symbol of God’s love and compassion. God has not spared his only begotten Son that we may have life and life to the full. (Editorial, Mindanao Cross, 04 April 2009)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Spiritual Journey in the Writings of Christian de Chergé

An appreciation of other religion through the eyes of a friend…
The particular insight of the spiritual journey undertaken by the monks of the Atlas region lies in the innovative and likely to be of interest to the whole Church in the matter of approach to interreligious dialogue.

It is not surprising that “a spirituality of the meeting of religions” should have emerged from the context of monastic life, because interreligious dialogue has its origin in spirituality.

With regard to dialogue, Christian de Chergé relies on the vision of John-Paul II. How can we appreciate the Pope’s thought, his daring? Where does it come from? We must know that John-Paul II lost his best female friend in a concentration camp; this explains how his urge towards interreligious dialogue begins in his own flesh.

As regards Christian de Chergé, the meeting with Mohammed, his friend (an Algerian field-guard) is at the basis of his thought. Christian had developed a friendship with Mohammed and committed himself to a deep relationship based on faith. Christian will state, “Mohammed brought freedom to my faith.” During an altercation in the street Mohammed tried to protect Christian, his friend, and to calm the aggressors.

The next day he was found assassinated. Christian understood this “event” as a sign from God, and this painful episode will never be forgotten. Christian comes back to it over the following years. “I know at least one much loved brother, a convinced Muslim, who gave his life out of love for another, concretely, by shedding his blood. It is an irrefutable testimony that I welcome as an incredible opportunity.

From that time on, in fact, I have been able to place, within my hope for the communion of all the chosen with Christ, that friend who lived, to the point of death, the one commandment” (in Journées Romaines: Chrétiens et Musulmans, pour un projet commun de société, 1989). Several years later, when preaching on the martyrdom of love (31st March 1994), he will say again, “I cannot forget Mohammed who one day saved my life by risking his own, and who was assassinated by his brothers because he refused to betray his friends into their hands. He did not want to choose between these and those. Ubi caritas … Deus ibi est!” (in L’invincible espérance, p. 203)

For Christian, the gift of Mohammed’s life led to the discovery of the Eucharist. The Eucharist means receiving one’s life from another. That is the meaning of the sacrifice: one cannot receive one’s life without giving one’s life. In Christian theology, Eucharist means receiving in order to give, but in the mind of Christian, there is a reversal of the meaning of sacrifice: to give in order to receive. His calling is profoundly Eucharistic, it is essential to him and is deeply embedded in him.

For Christian, “Mohammed gave his life as did Christ. . . . Each Eucharist makes him infinitely present to me in the Glorified Body, for he lived the Eucharist to the end.” And if there is one text of this sort there are many. “The Eucharist is for all people, this very day,” and not just when all mankind will have become Catholic. Christian knew that Mohammed was in danger, and Mohammed, knowing he was threatened, accepted that Christian should pray for him, but he added, “I know you will pray for me . . . but you, Christians, don’t know how to pray.”

We need to discover, in the actual life of those Muslims whom we know, the “Eucharistic signs.” The vocation of Christian is, from this time on, to be Eucharistic, praying among others who are praying, in Algeria which is “That land where the love granted was the greatest.” He wed this land, its people. Once when he visited his mother, she told him, “My son, flowers do not move about to find the sun; it is the sun which comes to visit them.” All this will provide the basis of his Spirituality.

From this time onwards he understands that the vow of stability means stability within a people: to take up stability in the land of Algeria and therefore to be closely tied to the local Church.

Fifteen years later, on 1 October 1976, he made his solemn profession and in his request, drawn up on September 14 of that year, he wrote, “I wish that my brothers who have taken the vow of stability in the Atlas should accept me permanently into their company, in the very name of that continuity, allowing me to live in PRAYER, in the service of the Church of Algeria, listening to the Muslim soul, if it please God, right to the final gift of my death ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus!” The Father Abbot Visitor and the Father Immediate, Abbot of Aiguebelle, wrote to the Abbot General, “. . . and I see in this solemn profession . . . and in the choice of those who have not yet taken the vow of stability to indeed undertake this vow in Algeria, as a conscious response made by the whole community to this action of God” (Report, 2 November, 1976).

A second key event, which took place in 1975, one year before his vows, (recounted in “Nuit de feu” , in L'invincible espérance, p. 33 f.) occurs while Christian is praying in the church during the night. Christian feels that someone is drawing close to him and saying “Pray for me”; and they start praying together the Our Father, the Magnificat, the fatihâ, prayers of praise, of thanks. Then, together with the Christian friend who had come with the Muslim, they pray for three hours. They will not see each other again. But before leaving, the Muslim goes round the monastery four times, dancing, and singing, he is so happy! Christian will not speak of this until his vows; then he will say “this event was not a dream, it is a fact”; it will be the affirmation of his vocation. Concerning this night Christian will say later, “These three hours made me live what my faith, for centuries and centuries, had known was possible.” The issue of hope is found there. The “theology of the meeting of religions” is based on eschatology; it is a matter of rethinking the theology of hope.

In 1979, he experiences a crisis (was he disappointed with the community?) and leaves for Assekrem for three months; he reads and prays a great deal on the Qur’an. By the time he comes back, the Rabat es-Salâm (the Link of Peace) has been founded by Claude Rault: prayer, sharing on themes with a Sufi community, “our Alawiya brothers of Médéa.”

Those are the key moments in the life of Christian de Chergé; we will constantly go from one to the other: from theological reflection to the key elements and vice versa.

2. How does Christian understand dialogue?

In his address given at the Journées Romaines Dominicaines, Christian recounted the following anecdote about his relationship with Mohammed, who used to come regularly to talk with him. One day the latter reproached him for his absence: “It’s a long time since we dug our well together,” to which Christian replied somewhat teasingly, “And what do we find at the bottom of the well, Christian water or Muslim water?” Mohammed replied, “Really, after all the time we have been travelling together, you don’t know? What we find is the water of God.”

Dialogue for Christian is an exodus, an Easter road, a hegira. It is not an activity, a debating circle; it is an interior path, a deep spiritual attitude, and therefore for him dialogue is above all not “theological.” He cannot stand the useless and narrow-minded jousting. He does not reject the four “typical” forms of dialogue mentioned in the Roman documents “Dialogue and Mission” and “Dialogue and Proclamation,” but for Christian it is something else; it goes further than this typology. (Fr. Christian Salenson Bulletin 76, January 2006)

The “What” of Dialogue

Dialogue is a necessity based on the spiritual bonds that draw us together. It is spiritual unity that brings us together. Dialogue is based on the unity which exists between us. It is from this unity that we proceed; from what we have in common, and not from what makes us different.

Dialogue is not “political,” it is “theological” in its scope, in the sense that its purpose is not peace, or agreement. Peace is a result, peace is a gift; it is not a goal. (These days there is a risk of turning dialogue into a tool.) Peace, clear agreement: these are not the purposes of dialogue.

There is a theological necessity of moving towards the other if one wishes to come to God. “To draw close to the other and to draw close to God: these are one and the same,” Christian says. The first step: it is God who takes it towards us. (cf. Ecclesiam Suam, 70-80). We must show the same generosity in this matter; it is not the others who have “taken the first step.”

Dialogue also has the effect of taking us out of our securities, of “emptying our hands”; it is the work of emptying so as to allow Christ to fill. Dialogue strips us of our certainties. We do not know what to expect from dialogue (we risk remaining with the understanding we already have of the truth, locked in the truth). Dialogue is an exodus, a discovery of Christ; it is a matter of “losing what I know about Christ so as to rediscover him in the light of Easter.”

Dialogue, for Christian, is profoundly existential, deriving from a long “living together” and from shared concerns (life, working with neighbors, cooperative action, all done on an equal bias and therefore with people). Tibhirine refuses to tackle social issues; they do not wish to be “bosses” precisely because dialogue means staying on an equal footing. This form of dialogue consists of trivial sharing and of exchanges based on faith and prayer; dialogue is nourished by prayer (the Brothers had lent a room in the monastery to the Muslims). The monastery bell and the call of the muezzin are part of this dialogue, both of them dialoguing, so to speak! On the other hand, dialogue does not mean leaving the monastery; dialogue can be experienced by those who never meet a Buddhist or a Hindu. No, dialogue is an interior attitude; it is a manner of being: one thinks, one prays in a dialogical context, for “the barriers of our closed minds have given way.”