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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
November 13, 1987     The Message
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November 13, 1987

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rattn t oaay Supplement, The Message, Catholic Diocese of Evansville, November 13, 1987 3 i ¸•, :!i :!!L; ' I |1 ural translations 7 ly in He+brew are not as effective when they iire translated into another language .... Many sleepless hours of close application have I devoted in this interval to finishing the book for publication." The young man broke through cultural barriers by translating his grandfather's work into the com- mon language of the empire. But his grandfather himself had broken through cultural barriers in ways that weitypical of the Old Testa- ment Wisdom writers. The authors of books like Pro- verbs, Ecclesiastes and Wisdom broke out of the confines of their own world not only physically, but intellectually. Widely travelled, they came to appreciate the fact that "people are pretty much the same wherever you go." While staunchly maintaining the superiority of their own Jewish culture, these writers acknowledg- ed that there was genuine wisdom to be fnd in other cultures too. These writers deeply appreciated advances in literature, philosophy and practical know-how. What they wrote was a rich blend of all that human experience had to of- fer, their own and other people's too. This cultural openness can come as a surprise to those who long have lived under the impression that bilical people shut themselves off in a protective co- cootl so as not to be contaminated by the world. There was some of this, of course, for not everything in surrounding cultures could be reconciled with revealed teaching. But much of it could and it was too valuable to ignore• The very temple of Solomon was modeled on existing Canaanite shrines and pagan artisans were employed in its construction• The king himself imported "wise men" from Egypt to help administer his kingdom. In the New Testament, too, there is evidence of borrowing from non-Christian cultures. Accor- ding tO Acts 17:28, for example, Paul qiioted a secular Greek poet in his address to the Athenian philosophers. If the task of Christians was to transform society in the light of the good news, they had to remain in society as a very active leaven. They had to be intimately involved in society, in all those areas of human endeavor that bear the "culture" label -- giving, but also remaining open to receive what is good. When "the Word became flesh," God entered human history in a unique, intimately involved way. This is the basic principle on which Christians act. (Father Castelot is a professor of Scripture at St. John's Seminary, Plymouth, Mich.) the rivers converge 70,000 people at Pope John Paul II's September 1987 Mass in San Francisco's Candlestick Park. The artists' commission, which kept em working at their glass furnaces for two months, was challenging• They had to produce liturgical pieces suitable for as culturally mixed a congregation as the pope would encounter anywhere during his U.S. tour. There would be many recent immigrants from Latin America at the Mass; Hispanics now make up about 40 percent of the church in the area. Because of San Fran- Cisco's traditional role as a port of entryom the Orient, many Catho'Tfcs from the Philippines and Vietnam also live here. And there are English-speaking Catholics from families who have been in the country for many generations as well as recent arrivals. Many of these cultures have Strong Catholic associations and each might want to see its culture represented in the papal liturgy• Instead, the artists designing the setting and implements for the San Francisco Mass did something very different. As Ms. Corcoran put it, they chose a "modern simplicty" for their design -- even for the altar design which she admitted was "simplicity on a grand scale." This was a way of favoring no one culture, while including all. The artists' choice of design recognized, perhaps above all, that the culture they most had to ad- dress was that of the future. r The church in California has moved in a half dozen generations from the time of its quiet roots!to times of extraordinary population growth and technical developm,ent in a region whose'influence ' ' reaches far beyond its own .. boundaries• . No matter where its people ! come from --and many of its people have come from somewhere else -- the church of this region has to cope with its role as the leaven in a changing and highly diversified world. (Father O'Rourke is on the staff of the Family Life Office in the Diocese of Oakland, Calif.) FOOD FOR THOUGHT Why do the church's people try so hard to maintain contact with the various institutions and cultures of the world, such as medicine, philosophy, education, the fields of communications, etc.? Getting to know the values and preoccupations of different groups of people is a way of entering into a dialogue with them. Why would the church's people find it important to do this? In what sense can the present be described as a beginning point for civilization -- a time when the process of civilization takes place? What does this say about the importance of the church's dialogue with culture? What might happen if Christians made no effort to be in dialogue with people different from themselves? .o-.€,-€- Second Helpings. "Each person is a story of God; so too is every race, culture and ethnic group. Each one is a gift shared by God in our midst that calls us as catechists and evangelists to a commitment of conversion, to evangelize and to be evangelized," says a book prepared by the U.S. bishops' Department of Education called Faith and Culturei A Mulricultural Catechetical Resource. Culture is "an important, but too frequently ignored, source of creativity." Before educators and catechists can share the word of God with people, "it is important to have a deep respect for their culture," the book says. Being rooted in a people's culture helps teachers and others to understand and appreciate a people's moral outlook, their religious precepts and the intimate ideas which they form of God, the world and other people, the book adds. And the Gospel takes root and shape along the con- tours of culture• (Office of Publishing Services, 1312 Mass. Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005. 1987. Paperback, $5.95 plus $1.50 postage•) OW DO YOU ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR FAITH? When friends, neighbors or relatives ask about the Catholic Faith, do you struggle to find a simple explanation? Do you know where to find the answers? The Catholic Church Extension Society offers a new brochure that clearly explains the basics of the Catholic Faith as never before. In 16 easy-to-read, full-color pages, The Catholic Church -- Who Are We? invites readers to learn what Catholics believe and what ,the Church can offer them. This booklet gives practicing Catholics renewed pride in their faith, and is a perfect gift for anyone seeking to know what it means to be Catholic. The Catholic Church -- Who Are We?, produced in cooperation with Franciscan Communications, is part of Extension's commitment to extend the Catholic Faith across America. The Catholic Church EXTENSION Society 35 E. Wacker Drive • Chicago, IllinoiB 60601 312 • 3G-7240 FT 0939 Enclosed is $_ for ___ Who Are We? at $1.50 each. Name copy(s) of The Catholic Church -- Address City. ! i , I I I 39 +