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Seeking solidarity

Observer Viewpoint | Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The first weeks of the beginning of the second semester are always marked by three special dates and occasions, all of which point toward different aspects of unity and solidarity.The first celebration is when the Catholic Church celebrates a World Day of Peace. The Catholic understanding of peace is that it is both a gift from God but a human work as well. And as each new year begins, at least recently, more wars are raging, more innocent victims are dying every day, many of the members of our armed forces are in harm’s way and continuous streams of refugees and suffering people could fill the headlines every day if such tragedies had not become so commonplace among us. I am always encouraged to see student organizations who take up the causes of peoples who suffer as a result of wars and struggles. And as the years have passed, the work of the Kroc Institute has become very significant and made its mark as one of the outstanding academic programs and institutes in the United States. Every Friday, the 5:15 p.m. Mass is celebrated in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart to pray for peace. In the face of such human suffering, it may seem fruitless to spend 30 minutes in prayer. But in the face of such human suffering and injustice, we do let our prayers and voices rise for our brothers and sisters and ask the Lord to continue to raise up among us people who will pursue peace with justice for all God’s people.The second celebration in January is the national holiday honoring the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On our own campus, University President Emeritus Father Theodore Hesburgh is always interviewed when this day is celebrated because of the contributions he made as chairman of the Civil Rights Commission when the landmark law which King promoted and died for ended years of segregation and racial intolerance, creating a solid legal basis on which to begin what remains a long and difficult struggle in our country and other countries around the world. One of the members of our staff, Chandra Johnson, is one of the outstanding campus ministers in our country with innovative and significant programs which enable us to participate in the important work of cross-cultural ministry.Finally, the Catholic Church celebrates the Octave of Church Unity during the third week in January. The prayer of Jesus is that all Christians may one day be united, and significant work in ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue has taken place for the past four years since the closing of the Second Vatican Council. The preface for the Masses during the Octave state beautifully what we pray for and seek during these days. “Through Christ you bring us to the knowledge of your truth, that we may be united by one faith and one Baptism to be His body. Through Christ you have given the Holy Spirit to all peoples. How wonderful are the works of the Spirit revealed in so many gifts! Yet how marvelous is the unity the Spirit creates from their diversity, as He dwells in the hearts of your children filling the whole Church with His presence and guiding it with His wisdom!” While significant work in ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue takes place through members of our Department of Theology and in the Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem, another member of our staff, Priscilla Wong, offers Prayer From Around the World in different Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Jewish traditions.It is important for us to promote solidarity in all of these for us and others as well. As we begin a new year, it is also important for us to be reminded of these three elements of human solidarity.

This week’s FaithPoint is written by Father Richard Warner, director of Campus Ministry. He can be reached at rwarner@nd.eduThe views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.