My wife and I have lived in a lot of different places. We both grew up here in Ohio. We like to talk about the cultural differences, and distances. My favorite example is from the parking lot of the Perrysburg JCC-YMCA. “I’m so sorry,” the woman said, "I think my car is too close to yours."
My head is still spinning. No way that happens in the Northeast.
A friend told me about a peace group formed by Catholics and Muslims. I am going to go to one of their meetings. He said: “That could only happen in Toledo.”
I went to Lourdes College the other night, for the second time in the space of a week, to hear a great talk. The first was by the Rev. Gregory Boyle, and it was about how to combat urban gangs with the power of boundless compassion and jobs. One thousand people came. No way that happens in the Northeast, either.
The second was by the Rev. James Bacik, retired founding pastor of Corpus Christi University Parish.
What a gem Lourdes is — an oasis where teaching and learning seem possible. And what a gem is Sister Janet Doyle, who created a lecture series featuring Father Bacik. She has reclaimed Father Bacik, one of the city's favorite sons, for Toledo — so that he is not just teaching in Chicago, but here. His 12 lectures at Lourdes this academic year cover an astonishing range of seminal figures in theology. This lecture was meant as a preparation for Holy Week and Easter — a meditation on the life, death, and teaching of Christ.
Father Bacik has always attracted students and followers, not only from other churches, but other religious faiths. Perhaps that is because, like Pope Francis, he projects wisdom, couched in humility. And, like Pope Francis, he is able to dissect highly complex ideas in a way that is comprehensible to all. Ideas like grace, the incarnation, sacrament, and hope.
He talked about grace, not as a bus ticket for eternity that we don’t want to lose, but as kind of receptivity — an alertness to the blessings.
He invoked Duns Scotus: Even if there had been no original sin, Christ would have come. To, as Pope John Paul II often said, teach us what humanity truly is.
He talked about liturgists and liturgy. He said he doubts that for Pope Francis the liturgy is the apex of faith. No, that would be charity. He quoted his great teacher, Karl Rahner: The symbolic action is never more important than the reality it symbolizes.
Father Bacik said a beautiful thing during the Q&A after his talk: “On Easter you may dare to believe that what you hope is true — that you are loved, that your work matters, that life has meaning — is true.”
That’s a benediction, isn’t it?
As is this: “... when you forgive, you love. And when you love, God’s light shines on you.” It comes from the film Into the Wild and is delivered with utter luminosity and power by the actor Hal Holbrook. Click here for the link
My wife and I have both noticed that people here are not shy about saying “Happy Easter.” No way that happens in the Northeast. Today is the great feast of hope and forgiveness for Christians. I wish Buddhists and Muslims peace on this day. For Jewish people I wish for more justice. May the humanists remind us of what we owe this world. Spring is here at last. As Karl Rahner taught, life itself is the sacrament.
Keith C. Burris is a columnist for The Blade.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6266.