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Rev. Leo A. Walsh, S.T.D. :
51 article(s)

The Rev. Leo A. Walsh, S.T.D., formerly the Interreligious Affairs specialist at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is now pastor of St. Benedict's Parish in Anchorage, Alaska. Photo Credit: Bob Roller, Catholic News Service (CNS).
September 29th, 2010

Jainism is one of the most ancient religions in the world. Jains follow the teachings of a succession of 24 prophets known as Tirthankaras, the last of whom is Tirthankar Mahavir. Prayers are often addressed to the Tirthankaras.
Jains believe in a multi-layered universe which contains a series of heavens and hells, the greatest of which is the “Supreme Abode” wherein reside the liberated souls. Everyone is bound within the universe by one’s karma — the accumulated evil deeds that one has done. Unlike Buddhism and Hinduism, there is no “good karma” in Jainism. The goal for the individual soul is to attain moksha…, liberation from an endless cycle of lives through reincarnation. This can only

September 15th, 2010

An interesting question considering that if you count daily Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours, Catholics worship on every Saturday and Wednesday, as well as every other day of the week. By Saturday worship I assume you’re talking about the Seventh Day Adventists who celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday. This practice comes from their acknowledgement that it on the seventh day of the week that God rested. Thus, the historical developments of the early Church notwithstanding, they claim that they have simply recovered what should be the true Sabbath and so they act accordingly.
The practice of many protestant communities having devotional services on Wednesday grew out of the practice of setting aside Wednesday…

September 8th, 2010

Actually, not all of them do. The practice has its origins in the dictates of modesty. From time immemorial, an uncovered head was considered immodest. Married Jewish women covered their heads, usually with a scarf or veil, so as not to draw attention to themselves.
In relatively recent times, the wearing of a wig or a half-wig, called a “sheitel” in Yiddish, became a way for a very religious Jewish woman to conform to the requirement to cover her hair. Eventually some decided that it was easier (and cooler) to wear the sheitel on a shaved head or one with short hair than to cover a full head of hair with a wig. It also has the advantage of not allowing one’s real hair to show, thus preserving modesty. However, some…

August 25th, 2010

In every culture and religion, a prospective wedding is always a big deal. It’s a time to celebrate the engaged couple and introduce family members to each other, perhaps for the first time. Hindu engagement ceremonies are no different.
Depending on which Hindu community you are from, the engagement ceremony is known as mangni, aashirwad, or misri. Usually it is held in a banquet hall or the prospective bride’s residence. Both families exchange gifts and good wishes. Formal introductions are a central component. The bride and groom meet each other’s families, and often each other, for the first time. The ceremony culminates with the bride and groom exchanging rings. Sometimes a Hindu priest is invited…

August 4th, 2010

Indeed we have. From 1978 until 2001, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Southern Baptist Convention held a series of very candid theological conversations. The official dialogue produced two reports.
The first, “To Understand Each Other,” produced in 1989, covered a variety of topics including Sacred Scripture, salvation, spirituality, church and ministry, the roles of missionaries.
The second, “Report on Sacred Scripture” was an in-depth study on how each of our traditions approaches the Bible and how we use it in the life of our communities. The dialogue also produced several study guides on such diverse topics as the environment, poverty, racism, life issues, and one…

July 28th, 2010

That depends on the denomination. The general rule in ecumenical circles is to let people define themselves. Thus, most Protestant denominations will consider each other as well as non-denominational congregations as “churches” in the broader sense of the word. We Catholics take our lead from the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) of the Second Vatican Council which proclaimed in Paragraph 8 that “while the Church of Christ constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church…many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure.” Depending on how many of these elements are present, we make a distinction…

July 21st, 2010

Welcome home. That sounds like quite a spiritual adventure. The quick answer to your questions is that no, you do not need to get “re-baptized” to come home to your Catholic faith. Usually all that is required is a good general confession. Depending on how long you have been away, I would highly encourage you to engage in a slow deliberative process of re-acquainting yourself with the Church. Many parishes have programs for those who are returning to the active practice of their Catholic faith (often called Reconciliation Ministry), such as “Landings” (run by the Paulists), “Catholics Coming Home” or “Re-Membering Church.” Such programs provide the opportunity to ease back into…

June 30th, 2010

There is no requirement that Jewish converts continue to celebrate Jewish liturgical feasts once they have been baptized. Most Jewish converts I know do not. It’s not that such things are forbidden , strictly speaking; it’s just that many do not feel the need given the new context in which they are living. It’s not so much a rejection of their past as it is an embracing of their new life in Christ (cf. Galatians 3:19-29). Of course, much depends on a person’s family history and cultural heritage. In all cases, the one thing to be avoided is falling into the problem of “syncretism,” that is, creating an amalgam which is neither truly Jewish nor truly Catholic.…

June 23rd, 2010

First, if you do not already have a working relationship with the campus ministers or local religious leaders around campus, introduce yourself to them. Meet for coffee or for lunch and discuss the joys and challenges of your ministry. Chances are you will find that you all share a lot in common.
Second, commit to meet on a regular basis. Once a month is a good rule of thumb. Once you have established good relations with them, then you can begin to discuss how you can work together to address issues of common concern. Combining resources for works of charity and social justice is always fertile soil for interreligious collaboration. The Interfaith Youth Corps and the 20,000 Dialogues Project are good resources for…

June 16th, 2010

Yes. At their wedding, the Catholic couple promises to “accept children lovingly from God and raise them according to the laws of Christ and his Church.” This includes adopted children. That being said, most adoptions these days are “open adoptions” where contact with birth parents is much more common. In some circumstances, it can be very beneficial for a child to be familiar with the religious heritage of his or her birth parents. In others, it might not be. Prudential judgment and discernment with all parties involved are essential elements in deciding what to do.…

June 9th, 2010

While marrying outside the Church precludes one from receiving the sacraments, it is helpful for parents to keep the following in mind.
1. The end of the story is not yet written. The Holy Spirit continues to be active in the lives of your children. You’d be amazed how things can change as the years go by, especially when they start to have children.
2. Maintain contact and communication. You do not need to condone the act, but neither should you disown them because of it. A good rule of thumb: If your child seeks to return to the sacraments, will they be comfortable asking you for advice on how to do so?
3. In matters of faith, be inviting, not condemning. Remember, “The truth without compassion is the hammer that destroys.”…

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