Russia TLIG Magazine

T L I G M A G A Z I N E I S S U E - 3 9 81 F r . J ohn A bberton R oman C atholic P riest , E ngland Dear Vassula, Since the medallion is in the same focus as the tower of the Mosque, it cannot be a reflection. There are two other circles, one higher and less distinct and one below. I cannot say what these are but they could be drops or particles on the phone lens or something on the bus window.The circle below looks like the orbs we see in many pictures. I do not believe the photo is a fake which means that it must be a gift from God. As far as the Pilgrimage is concerned, this photo is enough for me to believe that it was inspired by Christ and was the work of the Holy Spirit. To begin with I was unsure about the emphasis on inter-faith dialogue, especially with Muslims and the Druze. Unfortunately, because of my hearing difficulties etc. I was not able to use the translator equipment, so I did miss the content of some of the speeches. I thought some of the speeches were repetitive and did not speak directly enough, but it was necessary and the Spirit was present. The inter-faith meeting in the Synagogue did not impress me very much because there was actually very little dialogue; it was mainly just each person giving a short talk. The only dialogue came from the Rabbi. But the Spirit was there. It was something of a breakthrough. I believe Christ is reaching out to everyone because the time is now very short and we must love and respect each other. Many people are turning to Christ (as we heard) but many will not. However, you mentioned the example of Mother Teresa and I really believe that she was a gift to the Church of our time and that in her ministry we find the key to removing fear and hostility. Christ is more loving than we think, more gentle, more forgiving than we know, and He is reaching out to everyone. Once I said that I thought that as a priest I should not get in His way, and so I am open to what He may be doing in these days. Who are we to decide how God should act? We know nothing. When the Spirit moves we should move and if it truly is the Spirit, we will know by the gift of discernment. God is wonderful but too often we try to contain Him. The Catholic Church was given a wonderful vision through the life and work of St. John Paul II. I believe this same vision is being set forth by Pope Francis (not without flaws!). If we look at Pope Francis and fail to see simplicity, humility and mercy, we do not understand the man, nor do we understand what Christ is doing now. For St. John Paul II, the dignity of the human person was paramount. This is why I think of him and Mother Teresa as two sides of the same coin. Christians should, above all, be people of true humanity, seeing the beauty of God’s creation in each other and respecting each other’s history and difficulties. As we heard from that wonderful testimony of the ex-Muslim member of Hezbollah Afshin Javid, Christ is in love with all of us, whoever we are, and wants us to find true happiness with our Creator. For me the highlight of all pilgrimages and TLIG retreats is the fellowship, being with others.This pilgrimage was no exception and for me, personally, it was humbling to hear how so many people have been praying for me. Another thing that is important to me is to see Russian people and their environment. I have been telling people here that we have nothing to fear from them and much to learn, and from the Orthodox Church of Russia, there is a great deal to learn about how the liturgy should be an expression of our love for God and an openness to the beauty of God. Thanks again and God bless.

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