The thing I love about Christianity is that it is very practical. I guess the same can be said of other religions as well, but there are these little bits of Wisdom strung throughout the Bible that just make sense.
I went to Mass today at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Hong Kong. I had a relaxed morning, taking pictures at my own pace. To see the pictures I took, you need Google Earth downloaded onto your computer, then click here to view my pictorial of the cathedral.
Pictures are great. They express details of our experience that are difficult for words to show. It is also a fantastic art form, with incredible changes that can be made to a picture with the slightest move of a tripod, or adjustment to a setting on the camera. I have visited 58 churches thus far this year, and when you load all the pictures onto your Google Earth browser, you can really have some fun seeing the diversity of churches across the world.
As nice as that is, I didn’t come just to take pictures of Churches. I have been on this pilgrimage to learn, especially through encounters with other people, and to use what I discover in order to teach. It is ideal for me, therefore, to meet with other educators along the way to learn what they are doing and see how we can better work together as a Church.
OK. I’m an idealist right? How do you get all that done? Well at the Cathedral is also the center for the Archdiocese of Hong Kong, and many of the departments for the Archdiocese. So I started snooping around. I found a door that said “Catholic Schools Office” but there was a small problem, the door was locked. I stood their aimlessly, trying to figure out how to get in. I mean, I can see the other people on the other side of the glass. It shouldn’t be that hard.
Finally, someone came along and pointed out that I had to ring the doorbell. Oh… not that hard… just knock and the door will be opened.
It really is that easy. Why would anyone of us ever expect to find God if we never looked? How are we supposed to learn about our brothers and sisters in Faith if we don’t try to meet them? How are we supposed to realize the peace that we pray for in the Church if we don’t learn about our brothers and sisters in Faith? Makes sense. Right?
Not everyone of us is equipped to make a pilgrimage, I realize that, but we are all on a journey of discovery. We are all destined for the Kingdom of Heaven. How do we ever expect to experience the solidarity we are called to have with our brothers and sisters in Faith if we don’t make an effort in our life’s journey to learn about and grow with our brothers and sisters in Faith?
But how do we do that? I don’t know for everyone, but I could suggest what Jesus suggested… knock on the door. Try. You’re not going to get anywhere on the journey by doing nothing. You can’t find anything if you don’t look. Duh! It’s common sense. So why do we need Jesus to remind us of that?
Well, because sometimes we need help even finding the doorbell. I eventually did, but only because someone helped me. Turns out, the woman who helped me ring the door bell was actually the woman I needed to see. She worked for the Catholic Education Office for the Archdiocese. She brought me to her office and the entire staff stopped what they were doing, and sat and talked with me for an hour. It was amazing. You can see the picture of the six of us in the Google Earth pictorial I made, as well as some pictures that Vion Ng drew. They contain a great message… The whole is greater than the sum of our parts.
We sat and talked about Chinese culture, the emphasis of family, respect for the elders, care for the poor, and how these values, stemming from Confucian and Buddhist origins, are now synthesized with Chinese Catholicism in a striking way. I was also fascinated by the Hong Kong system. Their Catholic schools are subsidized 100% by the state. In the United States our Catholic schools are closing due to lack of funds. We are struggling just to get the state to provide vouchers or provide the basic education materials to make our schools viable, and here in Hong Kong they have worked out a system where the state and the Church can work together for the benefit of society. Amazing.
This is what I was looking for and hoping to find across the world. Dialogue with other Catholics who are involved in helping our young people come to know the wonders of our Faith more fully, but as many emails I can send out, I would never have found these kinds of connections and people if I didn’t try, if I didn’t seek, and if I didn’t take Jesus’ advice to knock on the door (or ring the doorbell).