August 18, 2019

Friends ,

As you know by now I am a true believer in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council which took place over 55 years ago. There are many who have more allegiance to the Council of Trent in 1545 and the First Vatican Council in 1870. It is difficult for those who believe that the Catholic Church teaches the truth to realize that the truth about God can never be totally known. I consider that a good thing because just as Christ’s disciples never fully understood the message, neither will we. God is continually revealing the reality of God to our world. That thought is exciting and challenging to me in my own spiritual life and also invites me to open others’ hearts and minds to a broader concept of God in our world and in their lives. Last weekend I preached about our earlier focus and obsession with “the missions” which brought our attention to those in other countries who were unbelievers. Today, we are more focused on “the mission” which is to help all people recognize their dignity in God’s eyes no matter their religious beliefs. So I quote once again from the book “What is the Mission of the Church?” by Roger Schroeder. He says “the pre-Vatican II perception of mission spirituality was that grace flowed from God through the missionary or priest to the people. However, the Second Vatican Council recovered the understanding that God’s grace has been and continues to be present in the world, in people of other churches and denominations, in other religions, and in other cultures. We have grown in our appreciation of God’s grace coming to us through our daily experience.”

Pope Francis truly lives as one who believes that statement. I’m so impressed to know that he will sit at table with many people from various cultures, religions, orientations, and traditions. He realizes he will learn as much from their life experiences and they will learn from his. He will not be the only “teacher” at the table. That knowledge and conviction is a grace in itself. So it is with each of us—we can no longer believe that anyone’s culture, religion, orientation or traditions are inferior or superior to others. I was brought up in a Catholic Family with Irish/Italian heritage and I value my background, ancestry, and beliefs. They contribute greatly to making me who I am today. Every human being in this world has a history which may be very different than mine. I respect their story and can learn a lot about life from listening to their life experience. To me, that is the grace of God at work in my life and the world today. Sometimes I think we spent so much time “earning” grace that we never experienced it.

It’s so much better to enjoy my relationship with God (Vatican II Spirituality) versus worrying about it.

Enjoy life!
Father Coyne

 

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