Now is the Time: A Call for Ecumenical/Interfaith Prophets

Let us find together those prophets living amongst us that are willing to speak truth and take us to those peoples and places where we may not really want to go.

Fall 2017

Now is the Time: A Call for Ecumenical/Interfaith Prophets

     Gods peace be upon each of you,

This past week the Troubadours of St. Clare Fraternity Council agreed to create within the Council the position of Ecumenical/Interfaith Formator. Our sister Barbara Jur, OFS, has consented to be the first facilitator of this new Council position. Barbara is already an elected Councilor with active voice within the Council. Her acceptance of this new role will be a blessing to us all.

To the best of my knowledge, we are the first and only fraternity to have taken such a step; further, I believe, no Region in the United States has moved in this direction, including Divine Mercy Region. We are very grateful to Barbara for her generous “yes” in response to the Council request. She has assumed this new role, and we look forward to her guidance and our own future formation.

Why is such a position necessary within a National, Regional, Local fraternity? The answer for me is simple. We need prophets. We need those brothers and sisters who will:

  • put themselves out there and speak truth to us;
  • remind us of our call as Franciscans to be in loving relationship with everyone;
  • help us fulfill the responsibilities of our profession; and,
  • take us places we would rather not go.

I encourage all Regional Executive Councils (most especially Divine Mercy Region) to explore the possibility of creating such a position within their respective Regions. I ask most especially the fraternities of Divine Mercy Region to search out and call forward into service those in our local fraternities who have a passion for Ecumenical and Interfaith dialogue and relationship.

Let us find together those prophets living amongst us that are willing to speak truth and take us to those peoples and places where we may not really want to go.

Pax et bonum,

Mike

“The Sultan and the Saint”

 

Review  by Donna Hollis, OFS

 

The docudrama, “The Sultan and the Saint”, is about Muslim and Christian Peacemaking.

The film was presented at Holy Family Catholic Church, Albuquerque, NM April 20th, 2017,

 sponsored by the Franciscan Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the New Mexico Islamic community who were in attendance.

This film shown in Albuquerque is 1 of 50 premieres showing across the Country.

“The Sultan and the Saint” will be aired on PBS, December 18th, 2017

 

Introduction of the docudrama was presented by several leaders.  Fr. Jack Clark Robinson, OFM, Provincial, introduced the event and welcomed all people in attendance.  He went on to share that God of all mankind has many names and ways of praying and honoring Him. Creation is the footprint of God the most High and the first gift to all humans to be shared by All.  We are intertwined with all creation, rooted in the earth that raise our hearts and minds to the Heavens.  We share Mother Earth and the Sacred Space; this is our Home.   

 The Producer of the film, Michael Wolfe, was introduced. He shared about the ‘Unity Production Foundation’ (UPF). The documentary was made to enhance discussions between the isles of different Faiths and listen to one another (Muslim and Christian communities)

In the intro clip it begins with a story, the props, costumes, sets and story lines.  The two stories of both the Sultan and St. Francis goes outside each of their faith traditions familiarity in order to bring Peace among each other.  Both of their lives intertwine within the time of their own Faith journey.

 

Awards were given out:  The Peace award was given to Arch Bishop John Weston in Albuquerque not in attendance.

The Islamic Community Award was given to the leader of the Islamic Center based in Albuquerque.  He shares the same vision of building bridges and finding common ground among our beliefs.  

 

This docudrama is about Peace in a war torn Country, much like todays unrest in our own time. Intermittent interviews flow throughout the film.

 The film has two lessons:

  1. History lesson – the Crusades fighting for authority and power. Christians versus Muslims wanting to rule Persia. The first part of the film shows the foundation and reason for so much unrest which brings about the fighting for control and power both from the stand points of the Church and Muslim rule.
  2. Courage Lesson – The two biographies of St. Francis and the Sultan were woven together to show the courage each faced toward one another. Their differences taught them to be against each other. The only way they could understand each other was to Listen and be open to each other; learning from each other.

(Human beings drive war) 

It is a story for our times of Peace in a time of turmoil!

 

The Movie begins with the height of the Crusades in 1220, Christians and Muslims defy the act of time.  People respond by dehumanizing each other, killing, damming, inflicting evil on one another.   What was the life of the Sultan and St. Francis about? They were each going through their own transformation during this time and were both becoming better than what they saw in war through prayer in their own way.  Lepers were abolished in the time of St. Francis yet he realized they were suffering human beings and he began to reach out to them. Francis preached a message of Peace through his example.  Francis by this time had dropped out of the violence and war of the Crusades.  Francis knew we were created for a better purpose; to become peace makers.  The Medieval Church called for a powerful struggle in the war of taking and killing others , killing all that would not bend the knee to them and their Church. The one true Church was all about control.

Francis and the Sultan both begin to value opposing direction of their traditions and times and behavior.  They both wanted to promote Peace which was embraced in their prayer; the true core of their faiths.   They have to face off those that do not value their understanding; rejected by the norm of their day in beliefs and values. They both saw the trauma of war and death by killing another which re-enforce power over another.  The offering of Peace as a option was seen as weakness. Francis believed that only when we see Christ in one another there can be peace among us.  Francis reached out to the Church and Crusade leaders but was not listened to, they wanted power and control not peace as Francis lived it.  On his way to reach out to the Sultan in peace he was met with criticism by the Crusaders and lack of trust from the Muslims until they realized he was not a warrior.   The Sultan was open to listening to this man of Peace and a dialogue developed. There was a source of peace that grew among the two of them. Francis watched the Muslims pray five times a day. He came to the insight that Prayer is of the essence of preaching and becomes prayer itself. The Sultan and Francis came to respect and understand one another not as enemies but as brothers. 

In giving up the rhetoric of war, peace sets in, bridges can be mended. Francis and the Sultan had to change their way of thinking and judging.   Just because they had differences didn’t mean they had to win each other over but they learned to respect and accept each other for who they are and befriend each other.  Lesson learned – We can live in peace if we allow ourselves to be equal to those we fear or don’t understand ; no one is better than the other. 

Staying true to their beliefs and prayer to God, Allah; Francis and the Sultan had a faith exchange and how God had led them to where they are, allowing God to be God in both perspectives.    The Sultan saw Allah as Merciful with kindness and compassion and forgiveness, 99 names of Allah embody Allah and who he is. To be self transformed  is an act of Humanity.    Francis and the Sultan’s Meeting and life ended in peace and prayer; showing God’s mercy and compassion.      Transcending differences brought about peace.

   If we want peace in the world then we need to exude peace. We are all made different and have different ways to worship God/Allah and call on Him. 

 A reception was followed after the movie in the Parish hall.  Attendees were invited to witness our Muslim Brothers and Sisters as they participated in their fourth prayer of the day facing East. 

 The purpose of the reception was to dialogue with one another and share our faith and understanding/acceptance of each other.  I  entered into conversations with the Islamic women. They shared their stories, where they came from, Jordan, Israel, Persia and how they came to the US to be with their husbands who had come before them to prepare a home for their families.  The Muslims have close knit communities with one another; they are all as one family. 

As we sat down to eat the food their community prepared we shared further about our Culture, beliefs and where they are at now with the community.  They were a delight to talk with. Some of the ladies are converts to Islam and shared their stories as well.  I found the women very open and hospitable.  They invited us to come and pray with them at their Mosque anytime.  The women handed out brochures about Islam which explains their faith in detail.  It is a way to explore more about who they are and what their faith represents. 

 I spoke with Producer Michael Wolfe at the reception. He shared how and why he converted to Islam.  He has written many books on the ‘Haag’, their place of worship.  Michael did not know the story about the Sultan meeting St. Francis until he was at a Retreat Center on retreat and met a Franciscan Friar who shared with him about the chance meeting of the Sultan and St. Francis.  At that time Michael began to explore the life of St. Francis and was deeply impressed.  He asked his Co Producer if they could make this event into a movie/documentary.   Michael is a writer and began to write the script for the documentary. Michael comes across as a very humble, devoted man of deep faith.

He desires and seeks ways to bring Peaceful dialogue with all faiths and not allow society to dictate how we should act.  

 I came home full of hope that we can cross boundaries of different Faiths and find common ground on which to build dialogue and lasting friendships.  With openness and respect towards one another we can build bridges and see the many faces of God/Allah who lives in us all.  He has many names and we have many ways of praying to Him.

Showing up in Southeast Michigan. –Interfaith Council of Metro Detroit

At this moment in history, when many have felt a shift in their place in the country, and in the world, we are each called to examine our highest and best values, and answer their call. “Some people of faith feel that they need to show up because their faith calls them to it,” says […]

via How do we “Show Up”? — The InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit

Divine Mercy Region, OFS, Spring Newsletter is ready to go.

The March Newsletter is HERE. This is the online version, which has some items omitted to protect personal contact information. If you need one of several registration forms mentioned in this newsletter, please see your local Fraternity Minister. All the registration forms have been sent to local Fraternity Ministers for local distribution. Peace and All […]

via March 2017 Newsletter — Divine Mercy Regional Fraternity

US Bishops Speak Out against Growing Displays of Anti-Semitism — Millennial

Last month, Bishop Mitchell Rozanski, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, responded to the surge of anti-Semitic actions in the US: On behalf of the Bishops and people of the Catholic Church, as the Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, I want to express our deep sympathy, […]

via US Bishops Speak Out against Growing Displays of Anti-Semitism — Millennial

A Call Within A Call

A Call Within A Call
By Kathleen Carsten, OFS

“I have called you by your name.
‘You are mine because you are precious in my eyes,
you are honored and I love you’.”
Isaiah 43: 1b, 4

Just maybe, you are already professed, maybe for decades, but then again, maybe for just a year. Perhaps you are seemingly satisfied in your call as a Secular Franciscan, yet maybe your spirit is a little restless. Is it possible that God’s voice has gone absent—or, thankfully, is the Holy Spirit quietly, gently, yet persistently nudging you to consider to go deeper? Perhaps the inspiration came at a fraternity gathering, or maybe reading an article in the Tau magazine, or something a person said to you. Perhaps you really can’t describe to others the “bump”, the “knowing”, or the Grace that the Holy Spirit is giving you, or once again calling you.

I was professed in August of 2015—just the beginnings of my life as an official Franciscan (but between you and me, it started a long, long time ago). There was and still is so much for me to learn about our Franciscan Charism! It wasn’t long after my profession that I was asked if I would consider the position as Formation Minister for my fraternity. I said, “yes.” The fraternity voted, and I was in! I was a bit overwhelmed, but I fortunately had, and still do, two great mentors on the formation team.

There is nothing, for me, like teaching, especially in my new life as a Franciscan to enrich my knowledge about Francis, Clare, and our professed life; and that’s exactly what is happening for me as Formation Minister. I love it! But something happened along the way. I attended a Regional gathering and in that time, there came a presentation followed by an invitation.

It wasn’t an invitation written to me with my name on it; nobody came to me personally and said, “this is for you.” Oh no, this was different. You see, our Region needs Spiritual Assistants, and there was a presentation depicting the importance of Spiritual Assistants and their life in the Franciscan movement. Up to this moment, I thought that this was a role only for the First Order and TOR. I thought wrong. I was delighted with possibility; however, six months went by.

October was here in no time, and we came together for the Regional Formation gathering. What a great occasion to see my Franciscan brothers and sisters. We have opportunity to build relationships and Franciscan understanding, but also learn what is needed in the Order. Once again, I heard the need for Spiritual Assistants in our Region. I received the silent yet stirring invitation to submit my name to the roster of interested Franciscans.

I submitted my application for the Spiritual Assistant program. I was accepted and given the study/reading assignments and timetable of our meetings. March 2017 came, and we met in Saginaw for a weekend for what I will say would be the next most moving venture for me as a Franciscan.

As we shared our reasons for being present, I had to tell my brothers and sisters that I love my work as a Formation Minister. However, I knew that I would and I wanted to learn so much more about our Franciscan charism; yet, there was a deeper purpose for my presence. I fell in love with my brothers and sisters who were present. Do you know what I mean when I say there was a connection between all of us? We shared our experiences, even when difficult and we asked lots of questions. It was fraternity at a very deep level, and we had just met!

What do I say to you? I invite you to consider the “Call within a Call.” St. Teresa of Calcutta, on a train journey from Calcutta to Darjeeling, received what she named the “call within a call,” which founded the Missionaries of Charity family of Sisters, Brothers, Fathers, and Co-Workers. Our life as Franciscans is a dynamic life; never ending in the pursuit of perfect joy and unswerving call to action.

You are invited. You are called.

U.S. Catholics ( the OFS?) and Islam

REPORT FINDS U.S. CATHOLICS (the OFS?) HAVE MUCH TO LEARN ABOUT ISLAM             (America Magazine Oct 28 2016/Michael O’Loughlin/Sept 12 2016)

“That could be the takeaway from a new report released on Monday that found fewer than two in 10 U.S. Catholics hold favorable view of Muslims, with many possessing little understanding when it comes to the beliefs of the world’s second largest religion.
When asked, “What is your overall impression of Muslims?” 30 percent of those Catholics polled said they held unfavorable views, 14 percent said favorable and 45 percent said they held neither favorable nor unfavorable views.”

The report was released by Georgetown’s The Bridge Initiative, a program at the Washington, D.C. Jesuit university aimed at improving public understanding of Islam while racking the public discourse on Islam and Muslim life……

The survey also asked about religion and violence. Forty-five percent of Catholics said that Islam encourages violence more than other relations while 24 percent said it encourages violence as much as other religions.”

Sadly today  we are witnessing a rise in islamophobia and anti-semitism. What responsibility do we have  to recognize and respond to what is happening in our communities? How can we do anything if we have little or no knowledge of these faith traditions?

Sisters and brothers,

Excerpts from our Rule and General Constitutions (paraphrased):

  • Let us individually and collectively be in the forefront in promoting justice by the testimony of our human lives and our courageous initiatives (Rule, Article 15)
  • Make our own contribution, … towards a civilization in which the dignity of the human person, shared responsibility, and love may be living realities (General Constitutions, Article 18.1),
  • Create  a spirit of welcome and an atmosphere of fraternity everywhere (Rule, Article 13; General Constitutions, Article 18.2)
  • They should firmly commit themselves to oppose every form of exploitation, discrimination, and exclusion and against every attitude of indifference in relation to others. (Rule, Article 13, General Constitutions Article 18.2)
  • Work together with movements which promote the building of fraternity among peoples: (Rule, Article 13, General Constitutions Article 18.3)
  • Committed to “create worthy conditions of life” for all and to work for the freedom of all people. (Rule, Article 13, General Constitutions Article 18.3)
  • “Be in the forefront…in the field of public life”. (Rule, Article 15, General Constitutions  Article 22.1)
  • They should collaborate as much as possible for the passage of just laws and ordinances. (Rule, Article 15, General Constitutions Article 22.1)
  • Engage ourselves through courageous initiatives,…  in the field of human development and justice. (General Constitutions Article 22.2)
  • They should take clear positions whenever human dignity is attacked by any form of oppression or indifference (General Constitutions Article 22.2)
  • They should offer our fraternal service to the victims of injustice (General Constitutions Article 22.2)
  • Renounce the use of violence, (General Constitutions Article 22.3)
  • Take care that our interventions are always inspired by Christian love. (General Constitutions Article 22.3)

Let us pray to the Spirit for guidance as to how we individually and collectively should respond, remembering that a response is expected of us.

Where can we begin? Find out where the Mosque or Synagogue is located nearest to you. Reach out and make contact, offering your prayers and support. Participate with them in their ecumenical / interfaith efforts.  How about a fraternity day away to a holocaust museum. Or take a tour of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn.   Write letters to or call your local, state, and federal representatives in support of our sisters and brothers.

If you are in need of any help, please call on me. Resources and additional information can be found on the national web site  www.ofsusaecumenicalinterfaith.org.

If you are interested in working with us  in our  Ecumenical / Interfaith ministry, please let me know.

Peace and every good

Mike Carsten, OFS,

Minister, Troubadours of St. Clare Fraternity

NAFRA Ecumenical / Interfaith Committee Chair