Russia TLIG Magazine

T R U E L I F E I N G O D 34 “WHO IS MY NEIGHBOUR?” When we look at each other, Christian,Muslim, Dru- ze, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu etc., what do we see? Do we see another human being, created and loved by God? Do we ever think that we might have something to learn from each other? Muslims, whatever others might think about Islam, pray five times a day. Do we? And who are we to question the quality of that prayer? Listen to this everyone, “God is love” (St. John tells us). Do we really think we have any clear concept of what this means? If we keep the Cross before our eyes we will learn (as St.Thomas Aquinas reminds us). The Cross should guide our thoughts and our actions. Though He spoke famous words during His Passion, Christ is depicted as the “silent lamb” (Isaiah). Silence is precious and contains so much wisdom. I recently watched the film “Silence”. In my opinion it has been over-hyped and the questions that are left at the end are not so difficult to answer. However what has been left in my brain is the importance of accepting SI- LENCE, and being prepared to WATCH, WAIT and above all FOLLOW. I have also leaned this from the recent Pilgrimage. We must never forget that the keys to unity are HUMILITY and LOVE, and we know from the messages that the unity completely envisaged by Christ is not just one of Christians but of all God’s people. I wonder how many have mis- interpreted Christ’s words spoken the Gospel of this day; “What I want is mercy, not sacrifice”? Let us put it in another way which may help us, “What I want is mercy, not what you think is true religion” For me, one of the joys of this Pilgrimage was the connection with Russian Orthodoxy (which I greatly admire), and in this, the highlight of my visit to Mos- cow was experiencing the Cathedral of the Saviour. For me, this was an “experience”. I was deeply moved by the sheer beauty and devotion of the place, so much that I wanted to weep and throw myself to the ground. It reminded me of God’s overwhelming beauty, love and mercy and of the possibilities for human beings when they seek GOD FIRST and not themselves. I am still deeply affected by that place.The Russian lit- urgy (when I had the chance to witness it) also gave me a taste of the beauty of God. And this, of course, is one of the main claims of the Byzantine Liturgy; beauty. I am challenged in my own worship of God, and I more consciously seek beauty in prayer and in life itself.We should take nothing for granted, and we should take time to pause and look at familiar things where we may see traces of God’s handiwork. One of my favourite poems is by Fr. Gerard Manly Hopkins, it begins, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God” (God’s Grandeur). I recommend it to those who read English. I suppose it will never be translated, but there are scenes and words in other places which say the same thing. Take and read, go and look. Fr. John Abberton A letter from Fr. John Abberton Dear Vassula, You do not have to ask to use anything from me if it is any good. I am a little shocked by your information, but I was aware that there were some who were unhappy with the inter-faith emphasis, but as I say, if we come to these pilgrimages with our minds made up or with a rigid point of view we will not hear the Holy Spirit.The point is, to put it very simply, Christ is reaching out to everyone.Why do some people think He is not? I heard one or two remarks from people suggesting that you had made a mistake and in my own mind came a similar thought - but this was from the demons. When I thought about the situation for a few moments I knew that the answer was found in God’s great and enormous love and that our evangelisation is above all one of love. We are still learning, or should be, and we are sometimes arrogant, telling God something, as if we need to educate Him. I would like to write something myself if you approve, on the basis of God’s incredible love. If we have not grasped how mysterious and marvelous that is, we will not succeed at anything in TLIG. I have had my doubts, as I said, but I was trying to listen to the Holy Spirit. It may seem a bit strange that I, who has had a cancer in my ear, had an open ear, to listen to the Spirit. The Holy Spirit has never let me down. I always remember what Our Lady said to the children at Medjugorje - that the holiest woman in the village was a Muslim! God bless Fr. John Abberton

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