Last Sunday, we had visitors at the 9:30 Mass from Temple Beth Or on Creedmoor Road. We welcomed them at Mass and then afterwards we met for about an hour and the group had questions about their experience. They wanted to know all kinds of things about what we do here: what do the different colors mean, why the spare branch on the back wall, why all those people coming forward toward the altar toward the end, why would we hear a reading from the Book of Exodus at a Christian service, what does “Franciscan” mean, how do Christian churches see the Jewish tradition? We discussed all of this over Daylight Donuts. For this group, their visit was part of an effort on the part of their synagogue to better understand other religious traditions in their area. We were happy to host them.
You will note that we have a custom here at St. Francis of welcoming people from other faith traditions at the beginning of Mass. This is because we understand that many people here have friends or family or relatives who come from other faith traditions; also that Catholicism – even with its rapid growth here – remains very much a minority religion here in the South. We also understand that, in light of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, the Catholic Church began to open itself to the wisdom of other faith traditions and instead of seeing itself as separate and self-enclosed, began to look outward and look for things in common with other faith traditions.
After Mass last weekend, one woman appreciated our hosting of the visitors from the synagogue, and told me her father was Jewish. Our faith community here continues to welcome those from other faith traditions.
On another note, we continue to make progress with our 2019 Bishop’s Annual Appeal. Thanks to all who have made a contribution to the appeal, and if you have not, we ask that you please consider your pledge for 2019.
Blessings on your week!