Monday, February 13, 2006

Intersem

The last couple of days (Sunday and Monday) I had the opportunity to go with some of my classmates from my seminary to an event called Intersem. This is sort of a forum for Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant seminarians to get together and discuss issues that affect our faiths. This years theme was "How Could God Let This Happen?" It focused on suffering in the world and how our traditions view it.

It also gave us an opportunity to see how the other faiths pray. We had Mass, and then members from the other faiths asked us questions about what and why we do the things we do. Then the protestants went, and then the Jews went. Since I have had quite a bit of experience with protestant worship, there wasn't a lot that was new to me. The Jewish service, on the other hand, was completely new to me and was very interesting. They sang Psalm 150 and Hebrew and it was absolutely beautiful. THey had a lot of physical symbolism attached to their worship, so it was intersting to watch, and listen to their explanations on what everything was.

We also had the chance to visit in small groups. My group was made up of 3 of us Catholics, and 3 Jews (1 conservative and 2 reformed). It was interesting that the Jews unanimously seemed to have a fear (all though it's probably better to phrase it as "foreseen annoyance) that we would try to prosletyze. Meanwhile, I think we were afraid of saying things that would offend. For example, it came up on whether it was considered offensive to refer to the Hebrew Scriptures as the Old Testament (none of them really cared, if you were wondering).

The weekend was spent not holding any of our traditions back. We showed each other everything, and without apologies, practiced our faiths devoutly. This was the most ecumenical experience I ever had. It makes me think back to college in the Shalomer, with Jews, Catholics and Lutherans, who never made it near what we accomplished in less than 24 hours at intersem. I think this is because we had been fed beliefs that practicing our faiths devoutly (in our case, displaying crucifixes or having anti-abortion materials on display) would offend others. I much favor the hold nothing back approach to ecumanism.

Hopefully in a week or so a couple of us catholics will head over to the UJ (university of Judaism) and dialogue more.

1 comment:

Val said...

That sounds like an awesome experience. You should tell Chris and Mike about it next time you're home.