Quiet awaits you!

St. Vincent once said to Saint Louis, “It seems to me that you are killing yourself from the little care you take of yourself.” (Vincent de Paul , n.d. [c.1632], CCD 1:145.)

As the quarter comes to an end it is important for all members of DePaul’s community to be mindful of taking care of themselves. Solid and significant rest, a healthy diet, exercise, and hydration are all essential to one’s well-being during the stresses of finishing up the quarter.

But, equally important is making time to simply be still. The Division of Mission and Ministry (DMM) staff know the importance of quiet reflection, prayer, and meditation—especially in the midst of hyper busyness. And, so DMM invites you to stop the madness and enter into stillness by visiting the Interfaith Sacred Spaces.

 

 A newly blessed Sacred Space just opened in the Loop and is located on the 11th floor of the Student Center, room 11008.

If you’re in Lincoln Park, please feel free to stop by the Sacred Space located on the first floor of the Student Center, next to the chapel. In this season of finals, may you find your quiet space and engage in caring for YOU!

—————-

Information on the Interfaith Sacred Spaces on campus:

DePaul University is a school not only dedicated to celebrating diversity, but it also encourages students to develop their full selves while on campus.

In order to support religious diversity on campus and provide students with space to develop their spirituality, faith, or purpose, the university has several places set aside for prayer, worship, reflection, and study. In addition to two chapels as well as the Lincoln Park Interfaith Sacred Space, an Interfaith Sacred Space was recently dedicated in the Loop. The Loop Interfaith Sacred Space is located in the Student Center, room 11008, and is available to any member of the university community  (university ID card necessary for swipe entry) seeking an oasis for reflection, prayer, and quiet. All are welcome to stop by and use the space on a first come, first served basis or information on reserving the space for recurring prayer, reflection, worship, or study can be obtained by contacting Diane Dardón, ddardon@depaul.edu.

“Healing Grief, Inspiring Hope: the Prophetic Practices of Ramadan”

iman iftar photo

This is the khutbah (sermon) I delivered for the Eid ul Fitr prayers marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan at the University of Chicago on June 25, 2017.

In it, I try to examine the reality of grief and trauma as pervasive aspects of the human experience and how true prophetic religion does not seek to cover up or pretend away such realities but rather acknowledges them directly. It also provides individual and communal practices for healing such grief and trauma, while at the same time always inspiring hope in a reality greater than what we can perceive in the moment. Examples of this prophetic methodology are mentioned from the Qur’an and the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him!). The worship practices of the month of Ramadan can be some of the best examples of these practices in our community and we should build on that model and work to create real and healthy communities throughout the year.

I welcome feedback and please share with others if you think the message is important.

Peace and Blessings,

Abdul-Malik

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/330418836″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Catholic Character of DePaul

 

The “Catholic Character of DePaul” is a chapter in the book The Playful Hand of God: Memoir of John T. Richardson, C.M. (pp. 74-79) published in 2011 by DePaul University, Chicago, IL.  Fr. Richardson served as President of DePaul University from 1981-1993.  In this chapter the author recounts the great history of the Catholic Church’s involvement in higher education both in Europe and in the United States over the past several hundred years.  He muses on how DePaul University had implemented some of the liberating spirit of Vatican Council II long before the beginning of that Council in 1962 and how later changes in the Church’s Canon Law in 1983 seemed an attempt to rein in some of the freedoms envisioned in Vatican II documents.  He noted Chicago’s Joseph Cardinal Bernardine’s opposition to those very restrictions and the University’s total agreement with the Cardinal. In addition, he reflects on the “space race” situation in the Cold War years when federal monies became available for research in science, technology and space exploration.  Were such monies to be available to colleges and universities with religious or church affiliations; or would grants to such institutions be considered unconstitutional?  This question was especially important to DePaul as the Music School of the University had been given special recognition by the Vatican years earlier affiliating it with the Pontifical Institute in the Vatican.  In 1966, the Board of Trustees voted to terminate that special arrangement with the Vatican and the issue became moot.

Bottom line is this (in his own words): “The Catholic identity of DePaul has not restricted learning to a sectarian point of view….the University respects the basic religious freedom of belief and practice enjoyed by its students, faculty and staff.  This explains why our undergraduate curriculum includes studies in many religions as well as the study of Catholic theology.  Catholics form the largest single religious group of student, but slightly more than half of the student body consists of other religious or no-religion groups.”

Vincentian Moments

Part of our work with the Interfaith Scholars is to make moves to draw people closer together through our different faiths. Our purpose is to transcend differences and better understand one another and the role that our faith plays in our day to day lives. One of the ways that the scholars do this is by creating what we call Vincentian Moments. These moments take an aspect of each faith tradition and draw a comparison to an aspect of St. Vincent Depaul’s teachings. 

The first installment comes from Scholar Thano Prokos who decided to on his own background in the Greek Orthodox Faith.

St. Vincent says,

 “Our Lord humbles in order to raise up, and allows the suffering of interior and exterior afflictions in order to bring about peace. He often desires some things more than we do, but wants us to merit the grace of accomplishing them by several practices of virtue and to beg for this with many prayers.”

In “Taking the More Excellent Way,” Fr. Anthony Hughes talks about the story of St. Mary of Egypt and uses it to explain on how we make use of personal suffering. He argues that our trials and suffering are the things that make us grow and we become beautiful human beings.

St. Vincent stresses the same idea, that when we are humbled in our lives it’s our duty to rise back up.  What both men are saying, is that the hardships we face are not necessarily what we should focus on. We shouldn’t be consumed by our grief. Rather, it’s important to focus on what the next step is. How do we respond to tragedy? Both men encourage a detachment from the experience of grief and a focus on the divine through prayer.

Vincent asks us to say our own personal prayers to God with the hope that our prayer focuses our attention on what is good and how we can strive to be better. Fr. Anthony asks us to pray for others, particularly those who hurt us. The goal of this practice is less “divine intervention” but more to remind us that those who hurt us are every bit as human as we are. It changes our perception of them from the evil other into someone that we can be compassionate towards in the hopes that in the future, we can demonstrate our growth by meeting  hostility with love.

New Scholars. New Reflections.

Over the summer, a group of our interfaith scholars headed to New York City in order to experience each other’s faith in such a way that we could move past any preconceived notions and actually grasp what the others believed. For most college age students, a trip to New York is all about the kind of shenanigans that can be accomplished and summer is about losing all responsibility and just relaxing. This summer shifted our focus because we were not letting time idly pass by. We were pushed out of our comfort zones in an effort to bring all of us closer together. We had the rest of the summer to reflect and decide if that plan worked or not. 

Each scholar was asked to reflect on:

  • What experience was inspiring?
  • What was surprising?
  •  

    What challenges were confronted?

  • What made you care?

Interfaith Scholar extraordinaire Kamieshia Graves gave us her reflection:

“New York. (insert happy sigh here) The city of wonders and great opportunities. The place to be with all its magnificent city lights illuminating the picturesque skyline. All the snazzy people with ambitions and dreams that are out of this world. Forget Home, Dorothy! There’s no place like New York!!!!!!”

Yeah… definitely not how I felt initially. May I offer a bit of my reality?

I never had the burning desire to go to NY. In fact, I was so dedicated to being a Chicagoan that I was almost positive that I would never partake in the blasphemous act of going to New York. It sounds ridiculous because it was ridiculous– don’t judge me. I think NY simply terrified me causing the lack of motivation to visit; however, I agreed to go with Interfaith Scholars 2013-2014 (woot woot!) and the adventure began.

You see, the day of travel came and butterflies are too cute to describe how I felt. I hadn’t previously met any of my team members with whom I would be riding all the way to NY. I’m a pretty easygoing person, but the thought of not being accepted into the group worried me quite a bit and I must say that first day was quite a challenge for me. It was like transferring to a new high school during senior year—I know from experience. Everyone was already comfortable and easily initiated conversations and laughed. Meanwhile, I fought to find a cool way to just jump in, which I never figured out. Instead, I randomly would ask a question, like a dork, never realizing that the focus was on the Game of Thrones, which I knew nothing about. (PS. Thanks guys for inspiring me to watch it. It is good!) Needless to say, I slept most of that ride.

Fast-forward:

We arrived and had arrangements to stay in the Bronx! I loved the Bronx immediately because it gave me a sense of comfort when I needed it most. I felt more connected with the residents of that area more so than I did with the individuals I was to live with. I felt that if I walked into a random group of New Yorkers they would listen to me, but I did not feel that way with my own team. Then all of a sudden, a bright light broke through the sky and we had a “Haaaaaaallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelu-u-u-u-jahhhh” moment and one person from my group struck up a conversation with me and then another and we just clicked, which actually surprised me! Although I believe that the foundation of Christianity with regards to behavior towards others is to be Christ-like by loving everyone despite differences, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I, a nondenominational Christian, had so much in common, including some religious beliefs, with the two young women who are both Muslim. The shared commonalities even extended to the other faith practices represented in the group. Can you imagine the look on my face when I met the Greek Orthodox priest and learned that he is just as crazy hilarious as my own pastor?! I’m sorry, but when I first heard Greek Orthodox I let my preconceived notions nurture the idea of taking a nap before going to that church. I expected it to be boring, but I happily admitted my error after learning that the St Nick is Santa. I had to send silent prayers of forgiveness to each of the faith practices many times that trip; I wouldn’t have changed it though because I learned a great deal about others as well as myself.

Though some may disagree, I would be comfortable saying that we are all working toward the same goal, but simply using different paths. I love it!

During a free day, I got to explore this a bit more when the leaders of the group gave us the challenge of initiating a conversation with a native and, if not too strenuous, centering the conversation on religion. I, along with the same two young ladies, found it rather easy to achieve this at Union Square with a bunch of random men from different faith practices. We got into this really crazy discussion (borderline debate at times) about Christianity, Atheism, and Islam with a man who identified himself as atheist. More and more people joined, and we developed this cycle of discussing religion and being silly. In the midst of all this enjoyable chaos, there was an older Islamic woman whose mere presence was awe-inspiring. This woman was selling water to make a profit. A couple of the guys bought water, and one said that he had done it because he felt sorry for her. The crazy thing is this lady was joyous and goofy. At least for the moment, she had not let life steal her love of living. I remember that she had jokingly asked one of the men why he hadn’t made a pass at one of us ladies and she laughed with us. It seems so simple, but I found it inspirational because life has dealt some crazy cards to me and I had allowed it to start having an effect on my perspective, but her presence reminded me of what I do have- laughter. (I have this crazy obnoxious laugh but I love it because it makes others laugh too.) I let the hard stuff blur my positive and optimistic outlook, but her presence.

Jumping gears to a not so religious moment that I have to share because it touched me:

I cannot remember where we were or why we were there but we were at a very small park- it was literally a fountain with benches around it- and there was this little girl who was in her own little world. She danced and danced without a care in the world, and all of us just watched her, but not in a creepy way. She eventually realized she had an audience and she stopped and returned the favor. She just looked at me… and looked… and looked until she smiled a big cheerful smile provoking me to do the same. She waved at me giddily twice before her mother looked back to check on the fuss. Her daughter ran to her and pointed at me and waved again. Our group had turned to leave, but before leaving to proceed to our next destination I turned to see her awaiting a goodbye. We waved one last time and I walked away touched by the purity of that carefree child.

I could go on and on about the IFS trip to NY, but I think I have already talked waaaaay too much. What can I say? Because of the memories I was gifted, I had a lot to say about the remarkable city of New York. As of right now, there is no place like it.