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January 23, 1998     The Message
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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 1 1  i I ." By JOHN F. HAUGHT .Catholic News Service ges us to move of associating "unbe- those who do not share 'Following. the example of SOmetimes found more the gentiles than among challenges us to problem pri- or each one of us. down to whether our lives and future God or instead per- For, as the Gospels a degree of dis- "I believe Help my people always will find ! Which to trust. The real that Something will be. as well as unbe- an inborn tendency to COncern on which to this sense all are have a habit of choosing that are too small, rs. makes clear, genuine other than idol- "idolatry" mean things that are an exceptional We diminish ourselves It freedom and to things even familial ties, , or obsession with law ',our true iden- , Wider kingdom of with the simply because that isn't located outside us idolatry imprisons people, whereas real trust in God sets people free. Our own understanding of unbelief or idolatry, there- fore, should echo the biblical intentions. Unfortunately, though, we have tended pri- marily to associate unbelief with "atheists," and idolatry with the religious practice of "pagans." By projecting atheism and idolatry outside ourselves, attributing these only to "outsiders," we fail to notice the idolatry and unbelief in our own lives Our unbelief- in other words our idolatry -- can be almost invisible to us. It can even become an aspect of our pious devotion to "God" when we imagine God to be much less than God is. Most of us acquire our sense of the divine when we are very young. But often, after we have grown up, our image of God remains undersized, inflexibly fixed to some prior phase of our personal and religious devel- opment Within our own spiritual lives vGe can enshrine images of God that imprison. In biblical terms this too is idolatry. It is a form of unbelief. This is why Meister Eckhart, the medieval mystic, was inspired to pray: "God, deliver me from God." What did he r0ean? He meant, "Deus semper maid:" Those words in Latin mean that God is always greater than our sense of God. Haught is professor of theology at George- town University. Point: ttitude, as a Catholic Christian, toward someone who a non-believer? happened was., to try and find out what the person CUrious what the word 'faith' meant to him .... I didn't really convert him, but instead wanting to say that my faith is that I want to share." -- Sue Becket, Middlefield, Ohio the little miracles of life .... It is much more difficult God than to believe .... If I can say anything to help them is theirs." Sharon Gingerich, Burton, Ohio , but I think in the end they may f'md it was an incorrect choice. to choose their own beliefs even though I don't agree with -- Nancy Urban, Parkman, Ohio to Witness to the truth. As a priest, my attitude is one of sor- and hope that somehow I could help him or her come to an experience of ' Jesus love and the way of his salvation for that per- : "-" Father Alfred Pehrsson, CM, Grand Rapids, Mich. VOice: asks: How would you define the word 'hope?' And how publication, plea write: Faith Alive! 3211 Fourth 017-1100. "Most of us acquire our sense of the divine when we are very young," explains theol- ogy professor John F. Haught. "But often, after we have grown up, our image of God remains undersized." -- CNS photo by Michael Alexander 0 Food for thought ...... 'Do we really know "how" to get through to people whose belief in God is blocked by some obstacle -- by a lack of hope, perhaps, by anger or simply because they don't know anyone who is a compelling example of faith? The Synod of Bishops for America -- North, Central and South America, and the Caribbean -- that took place in Rome at the end of 1997 issued a mes- sage asking Catholic Christians to share their faith ,openly and courageous- ly." To do so, the synod said, is to serve as evangelizers. Who should faith be shared with? The synod named these groups: "Those who have abandoned the faith. "Those who in their longing are still searching for God. "Those who have yet to hear the good news." And how did the synod propose that faith be shared with these people? By "your lives of holiness." By "your kindness to all." By "charity toward those in need and your solidarity with all the oppressed." And, looking ahead to the coming Jubilee of the Year 2000, the synod m'ged that the new millennium's arrival be celebrated by hearing the Gospel anew, taking it to heart and sharing it "with humility, gratitude and joy." Just days after the synod concluded, Pope John Paul H issued his 1998 World Day of Peace message. In it he told of ways that the Holy Spirit becomes vis- ible to others. The Spirit, he said, is present in: "The selfless service of those who work alongside the outcast and the suffering. "Those who welcome immigrants and refugees. -- "Those who bravely refuse to reject a person or a whole group for ethnic, cultural or religious reasons." The Spirit "is especially present," the pope added, "in the generous activi- ty of all who patiently and perseveringly continue to promote peace and rec- onciliation between people who were once opponents and enemies." David Gibson Editor, Faith Alive!