In your May/June 2019 MARYKNOLL magazine, an article entitled “You are the now of God” begins with a photo of a blonde girl holding an American flag on the far left, next to a few other pilgrims holding their native flags. That girl on the left is me! The article by Maria-Pia Negro Chin made me reminisce on my World Youth Day experience in Panama.
Her description of the trip snapped me back to the 10-mile walk we took to the final Mass on the outskirts of Panama, and specifically, to the evening of adoration the night before with Pope Francis. I remember so clearly the crowd of 600,000 all kneeling in silence as the sun was setting just behind the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. We were outside, and you could hear a pin drop!
The sisters of Siervas sang Te Amo on their knees in adoration, and Il Volo, an Italian trio, sang Ave Maria Mater Misericordiae in the presence of Our Lord as the pope prayed in adoration with the Church. I was overwhelmed by God’s unconditional love in that moment and could not stop my tears!
The photo is from the Fiat Festival, an event for English-speaking pilgrims earlier in the week. My group was lucky enough to snag the first row! The most memorable part of that event was the opportunity to worship in adoration and hear Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron speak during the reflection.
I hold on to Bishop Barron’s reference to one of St. Pope John Paul II’s favorite sayings “Duc in altum” (“Cast out into the deep…”), a reference to Luke 5:4. We have a choice to stay in the shallow waters of our faith, where it is safe to stand and easy to return to shore. Or, we can choose to “cast out into the deep,” surrendering fully to Christ, completely trusting that he is all-knowing, all-loving and all-merciful. By trusting that he will direct our steps, we find full freedom in Christ. In order to do this, we must take a leap of faith as Our Lady chose to when she said in Luke 1:38, “May it be done to me according to your word,” which was the theme of World Youth Day 2019.
South Bend Indiana
ANOTHER WORD FOR GOD
A contributor to Readers’ Responses in the July/August 2019 issue strongly disagreed with the writer in an earlier issue who maintained that “God and Allah are the same.” I can understand why this question might provoke such strong feelings, especially in the current overheated political climate. I think it is useful to remember, however, that Allah is the Arabic word for God.
There are an estimated 20 million Christians spread across Egypt, Lebanon and several other Middle Eastern countries. The Bible written in Arabic uses Allah as the word for God. One could say then that Allah is both a Christian and a Muslim word for God.
Scholars of religion classify the Muslim religion, Islam, as one of the three monotheistic Abrahamic faiths that came out of the Middle East. The other two are Judaism and Christianity. One could argue, therefore, that Christianity and Islam are sibling faiths that stand in contrast to the non-monotheistic religions of South and East Asia.
A good case can be made that God as proclaimed in the Muslim holy book, the Quran, is not so very different from the July/August contributor’s view of our Christian God as “living, gentle, all-forgiving.”
Unfortunately, many self-proclaimed Muslim leaders have veered away from the original message of the Quran—toward intolerance, oppression and violence. I would argue that this phenomenon has more to do with local social structures, the quest for power and a political agenda than with the tenets of Islam as a religion.
Nicholas A. Stigliani
The influx of undocumented immigrants at our southern border is sometimes described as an “invasion.” Invaders come to impose their language, culture and way of life, not to peacefully and lawfully assimilate in becoming American citizens. This is part of the fear.
I found the article on Maryknoll’s DMM (this is for a Spanish acronym never spelled out) in the May/June issue disturbing. The article states that this organization’s goal is to help “young people—both immigrants and those of Hispanic heritage born in the United States—to discern how God is calling them to serve in mission.” Catholic means “universal.” Is God calling just Hispanic youth in Texas and the United States to serve? I have no issue with an organization for “young people.” But must the Church be divisive as to national origin?
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Editor’s note: We certainly agree God’s call to mission is universal, not just for Hispanic youth in Texas. However, the purpose of the article you mention was to report on how Maryknoll is assisting young Hispanic Catholics in Texas who requested help in living their missionary vocation. DMM (which stands for Discípulos Misioneros Maryknoll or Maryknoll Missionary Disciples) is Maryknoll’s mission education outreach to U.S Hispanic Catholics. The mission society has several outreach programs for English-speaking U.S. Catholics. (Visit our website: Maryknoll.us)
Regarding undocumented immigrants, the U.S. bishops urge U.S. Catholics to “reject the anti-immigrant stance” and “welcome these new immigrants … in ways that are respectful of their cultures and in ways that mutually enrich the immigrants and the receiving Church.” The bishops promote “unity in diversity.”