Are all religions the same? No. Ask any practicing Jew, Muslim or Christian. Only a secularist would propose this absurdity. It doesn’t mean that religions can’t coexist. They can and have, but only when we acknowledge that they are different. So how is Christianity different from other world religions?
It all started when I read an article about Popes Francis’ initiative to provide showers for the homeless. One homeless person reportedly said, “They treat us like friends.” Here in Magadan, Russia, we don’t have many homeless, but we have some folks with handicaps who need care.
I dedicate this article to Anya, my 14-year-old parishioner who just came to me and said she can’t tell her classmates she goes to church because they will call her stupid. Additionally, I dedicate this article to all teens who struggle to know and share their faith. We are with you and emphatically affirm that Christianity is the best way to be your best self.
It all began the Monday of Holy Week. After my exercises I was literally brought to my knees by a deep pain coming from my left side. I tried to muscle through it for a few hours, but it only grew worse.
Here is what Jesus said according to the Gospel of Saint Luke: “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” How can this seemingly impossible command ever be accomplished? We can assume Jesus knew how hard this would be.
Is it possible to love and pray for those who offend us — even our enemies? Is it possible to suffer and find blessings even in persecution? I know of four people on the way to sainthood in the United States who exude such hope.
We have a parishioner here in Magadan, Russia, who has struggled with alcoholism for some time. She is a mom of two sons. One is a teenager, the other an eight-year-old who is extremely handicapped and the gem of our parish.
The bishop, with the laying on of hands, imparts the gift of the Spirit and then the priest, placing his hands inside those of his bishop, promises perpetual obedience. To the secular world this must seem horribly arcane but not to priests.
I am an older priest now and it seems I still know very little. But I do know this: If we want to stop the tragedy of abortion, we must show more active love to the mom and her unborn child.