Dilatato Corde 7:2
July – December, 2017


Today I have the pleasure of being able to thank the people who helped me be here today. I will speak in Catalan so that you may have the opportunity to listen to our language here, in the heart of Catalonia. However, you also have the English translation at hand.
The Catholic Church engages in dialogue with other religious traditions for two reasons: to respect human beings in their pursuit of answers to life’s deepest questions, and to respect the work of God’s Spirit in each person. We believe that God is present in every man and woman, and we ought to contemplate his Spirit’s work in them with humility and respect.
To enter into dialogue with our brothers and sisters from other religions is, therefore, a mission that the Church has especially entrusted us who are monks and nuns.
Religions are the soul of cultures and the place where the essence of humanity is deeply pondered. Because human beings are constitutively religious, because they are open to word, reason, thought and communication, we believe that dialogue is not merely anthropological, but also theological,.
Why monks and nuns have committed themselves to interreligious dialogue
There is a place for everyone in the divine plan. We humans belong to a single family and the Spirit is present and active in all of us. Thus, we believe that our neighbor’s religion is also our personal concern, and we wish to show that our world can live peacefully in the midst of differences. Since diversity is at the very heart of God’s creation, we believe that diversity is a divine value, and we cherish and contemplate it as the very core of unity. We believe in a unity that is greater than difference.
We monastics today dream of a new humanism: God is first (of course!), next comes universal fraternity, then shared goods, the testimony of a simple, austere life . . . and the wonder of coming every close to the One whose presence we already acknowledge within us. Fidelity to this utopian vision may make us a prophetic voice in our world.
The spiritual dialogue that we, monks and nuns, wish to engage in has to do, first and foremost, with spiritual experience wherein, full of reverence, we remove our shoes before the sacredness of the other. For us, dialogue is a place for testimony more than for evangelization. We can no longer afford to live in mutual indifference.
How to experience interreligious dialogue in the time of nihilism
Since we believe that religion is a constitutive dimension of being human, we lament that so little value is given to the great questions: Where do we come from? Where are we going? Who are we? Is there a God? Failure to give value to these fundamental questions is the root of nihilism. That is why we, monks and nuns, take our stance on religion as the foundation and fountain of our lives. We wish to affirm that the task of building the human world cannot simply be a human, technological affair; it must also be spiritual and even contemplative.
Therefore, we ask ourselves today: How can monastic persons from the great religious traditions be a living answer to and a refutation of nihilism? How can we stimulate the taste for the mystical, an important expression of a living spiritual experience? How can we find in the other (the brother or sister) a place to meet the God for whom we search? What do we contribute to the world from the standpoint of spirituality? We are deeply convinced that God is in every person, and that we are to “Love their lives as a treasure”, as the psalmist says (72:14). We are to love those who seek him with righteousness, whatever their religion.
Interreligious dialogue aids us in our shared journey with those brothers and sisters whose paths are not our paths, and calls us to choose embracing over clashing. Dialogue shows us that we complement each other, and thus makes us more skillful in the art of living together.
The great novelty in Christ’s message is the assertion that the second great commandment is like the first: We are to love not only God, but also the Neighbor! We believe that every human being is made in the sacred image of God.
For monks and nuns, “leaving everything behind” has been has been the necessary first step, but “embracing everything” should be the second one. Pope Francis cries out to us to live passionately the most constitutive values of our consecrated lives, and one of those constitutive values is to meet our brothers and sisters.
Becoming involved in interreligious dialogue requires first and foremost the willingness to reflect and share our profound experience with others. It also requires knowing how to listen to one another, receiving the other as a source of revelation. My fervent hope is that we may embrace the commitment to bear on our shoulders the suffering of our brothers and sisters from around the world. In the face of the current tragic global situation, may we act humanely and prophetically in their favor!
A preliminary step for interreligious dialogue is the will to strive every day to build mutual friendship and trust. Without friendship and trust we cannot share our spiritual experience. Where there is friendship and trust, differences of identity lead us to a deeper search for that which is particular to each individual. If we had nothing in common with our partners, there would be nothing to talk about; and if we had everything in common, there would be nothing left to say. Respectfully asking one another the question: “Who is your God?” is a collective invitation to come together to the Center of everything: God.
Dialogue is a way of imitating God, who does not differentiate between person and person, who has communicated with and been revealed to human beings since their creation. Convinced that we are totally equal before God, interreligious dialogue becomes something extremely easy and, at the same time, a great mutual challenge.
We must also acknowledge that interreligious encounter at the level of spiritual experience is just beginning. We scarcely know where we are going, but we continue to walk. If we go hand in hand, we can go on together and finally arrive somewhere!
I am caught up in interreligious dialogue not only because I consider it essential to my faith or because my community asked me to become involved in it thirty years ago, but also because it is a source of great stimulation on my spiritual journey. It invites me to learn about the profound experiences of my friends, experiences that flow from their concrete, personal stories of spiritual searching. Interreligious dialogue also invites me to look more deeply into theological questions about our relationship with God. Finally, it helps me offset the notion that Christianity is incompatible with other spiritual paths.
Philosophy and theology invite us to surpass immediate evidence and wonder at the subtle underlying order of the universe that is crucial for our existence. However, these two disciplines cannot conclude that all reality is in itself the reflection of a divine, transcendent entity. Today, we understand that the mission of science is neither to demonstrate not to refute God’s existence, nor is it the mission of religion to discover the laws of nature. One of the reasons interreligious dialogue is so stimulating is that it invites us to formulate more general questions and helps religion attain a more knowledgeable interpretation of the world. It encourages participants to share their personal knowledge.
For example, in my contact with Buddhism, or better said, in my contacts with my Buddhist friends, I always like to express my tendency to dualism. I cannot make their zazen-based experience of silence my own, even though I too highly appreciate silence. We are separate beings, even though we may not have been so in the beginning. Some people say that everything starts when the umbilical cord that ties us to the womb is cut.
This separateness is what makes it possible for me fully to experience union as well as difference, pluralism, otherness. For me it is right embrace distance, difference, separation and unavoidable duality, and to do so resolutely. Word is the space that make me separate from the other, even from God.
Even in my experience of prayer, union with God does not make me dissolve into the Wholly-Other. In Christianity, union is communion. I do not disappear. I like to value that I am the “thou” created by God with whom God wishes to communicate as God, as Father, as a friend. Moreover, for me God is the “Thou” whom I call “Father,” without failing to acknowledge that God is a Mystery that transcends all language—a loving, person-like mystery, since God has been revealed in the person of Jesus, who also speaks to God as “Thou.” God is both absolute transcendence and profound immanence. For me, God is not an alien, but an intimate someone.
I enjoy gazing at Rublev’s Icon of Hospitality, with the altar of the world at the center, where everything is given a welcome in the heart of the Holy Trinity.
In interreligious dialogue about God, I enjoy sharing that profound spiritual experience by which human beings are loved and called to become members of God’s family.
I enjoy interreligious encounter when it makes individuality and difference grow within each brother and sister.
Mainly, I am a woman of dialogue, with God. This is why I enjoy belonging to a religion that has chosen the Word. I feel myself a dualist in the sense that I come before the Divine “Thou” as a “thou” to whom the Divine speaks. God is the “Thou” of my “heart”. At the same time, silence is also important, appreciated, and great desired. Thank you very much!
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