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It's official. I was sent the plans for the opening and closing liturgies for the ICM. The opening hymn for the Opening Liturgy is a Haugen Classic that is all about us. It might be about the effect that God has on the Almighty US, but it is not about God or addressed to God.

The Closing Liturgy begins with some outright heresy. I am not trying to judge Hanh or Buddhists. They have a certain dignity and right to their beliefs. This, however has no place in the Liturgy.

From the writings of Thick Nhat Hanh:
“Our true home is in the present moment,
To live in the present moment is a miracle.
The miracle is not to walk on water.
The miracle is to walk on the green earth in the present moment,
To appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.
Peace is all around us-
In the world and in nature-
And within us-
In our bodies and our spirits.
Once we learn to touch this peace,
We will be healed and transformed.”

Just for beginners, our true home is in heaven. And the walking on water was a significant moment revealing that Jesus is God. In this liturgy, however, we are invited to find truth within, and so are invited to deny or ignore the revealed living Word that is Jesus the Christ, the living Son of God.

Oh, that's right, it is is Sunday liturgy. I will have to go look and see if they included the Creed.

[UPDATE] The Creed is part of the liturgy plan, and the Hanh quote has just been added to my homily.

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My my, the things that good priests have to endure these days for the sake of the Cause!
Do you have any influence over the liturgy planners (sic) for this event, or do you have to suffer?

Those who like biblical one-liners sometimes toss out Luke 17:21 as the Christian equivalent of the Thich Nat Hanh quote about looking within.

Luke 17:21, which our revised NAB translates as "...the kingdom of God is among you" is often translated "...the kingdom of God is within you." The revised NAB has a nice footnote about this.

Another fun bit of text lifting is to pull the "do not worry about tomorrow" from Matthew 6.

What I'm saying is that it may be the case that Thich Nat Hanh appeals to Christians is because even though the overall messages about the meaning and destiny of the human person are not the same, there are some genuine points of contact.

The Buddhist says look within. In some sense, the Cnristian can say that, too, here and now, because of the gift of the indwelling Trinity.

Father Jeff, you are just so tactful, redeeming the quote by "assuming" it into the homily.

I am not sure how redeemed the quote would be after I oppose it.

I think the fuss on the quote from Hanh is overdone. The reference is clearly to people, not Jesus walking on water, which for Peter was indeed a physical miracle. For any of us it is an unlikely miracle, though not totally impossible.

Overuse of a charge like heresy cheapens the impact when something is truly heretical. Gather Us In or All Are Welcome, I presume? Lots of hymns don't address God directly. The Creed doesn't either. That puppy's all about what we believe or what I believe; absolutely nothing about the praise of God.

I agree there are far better hymns to choose. But as a lay person in the Church, there are sometimes I just have to swallow it and get over it. But I do try to think the best of people, and not assume they are Creed-deleting heretics.

Uh, Todd, I was talking about a text, not a person. I am calling no one a heretic.

Hahn is Buddhist. He does not believe as we do nor is he required to follow our rules.

Using the text is question is a clear, objective error. If a Catholic were to promote it as truth, THAT would be heresy.

Only if they refuse to hear the truth, and persist in promoting error, would I ever seek to refer to them as heretics.

I see nothing in the text that is in error.

In a similar context, I might say my true home is with my wife and daughter in Kansas City, if I were discussing a notion that my true home might be my place of birth, back east. Maybe I'd want to emphasize to my extended family and friends that my home is where I actually am at the present, with my current, not former nuclear family. And with my parish. I would not be advocating heresy, just speaking of an earthly emphasis.

Hanh seems to be suggesting that living in the present moment, not the past or future, is a virtue. That seems to be plausibly good advice for Retrouvaille couples. If Hanh said "our truest home" instead of "our true home," then I think a case could be made.

If I wanted to bother, the text could be analyzed (or over-analyzed) to align more closely to Christian teaching. Certainly God's continual presence in our lives is a miracle, part of the Christian understanding of redemption. For hurting and healing people, coming to find inner peace is miraculous. Peter didn't need to walk on water. Retrouvaille couples may better appreciate the discovery of healing and peace in the present moment, not idealizing some past experience or future expectation.

I do see where you're coming from. And I also have a curiosity as to why non-Christian texts might be considered for communal use at a liturgy. But the words and meaning in this context are far from heretical. Certainly no more dangerous than coopting a tree for Christmas decoration, an object with no less of a non-Christian pedigree.

And the planners certainly did have the Creed. I'm glad they surprised you.

The fact that you see nothing of error in the text, that your destiny is Kansas City and not heaven, displays for all to see the difficulty the gospel has in this atmosphere.

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This page contains a single entry by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. published on September 28, 2005 10:50 AM.

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