A Typical Evening-Mass, Muslims, and Mormons
By: Jordan Denari
November 3, 2011
A few times per semester, I’m lucky enough to have what I call “interfaith nights.” One evening last year, I went from my Muslim Students Association meeting to Copley Crypt Chapel to pray, and then rushed over to my Mormon chaplains’ apartment for an informative event about the Jewish holiday Hanukah. Active in interfaith efforts on campus and studying religion in the SFS, I relish in these opportunities to learn about faith in a non-academic setting and be exposed to traditions different from my own.
Tonight, I had another “interfaith night.” After celebrating All Saints Day with the Catholic Chaplaincy—which included Mass and a dinner during which we discussed everyday saints in our lives—I attended the Muslim Students Association’s halaqa, a student-led, faith-sharing opportunity. I also brought along my Catholic friends from Renew, a Catholic faith-sharing program, as a part of an interfaith “swap” we’d planned with the MSA. (The Muslim students will sit in on our Renew faith-sharing session on Thursday.) After the halaqa, I ran over to an event aimed at breaking down misconceptions about Mormons.
Busy nights like tonight can be exhilarating, but they can easily become meaningless if I don’t take the time to reflect on what I’ve learned from them. Interfaith dialogue and engagement are only useful if self-reflection is the result. I must ask myself this question: How has what I learned changed how I view others, and ultimately, the way I see my own relationship with God?
As I look back over the last few hours, one common theme emerges from the All Saints Day dinner, the MSA halaqa, and the Q&A on Mormonism—as students of faith, we are all searching. We are all trying to find God in our busy lives, and to surround ourselves with people who are making that journey as well.
Sure, as Catholics, Muslims, and Mormons, we have strong theological differences. And while they are important to address at times, these differences seem to matter less in the larger scheme. Recognizing our mutual desires to forge personal relationships with God through each of our traditions, we can support one another in these endeavors.
I saw this process of mutual support beginning as students mingled after each of these events. Muslim and Catholic students joked around while swapping their contact information, with the intent of attending one another’s events in the future. And students enthusiastically said “good luck” to young, visiting Mormon missionaries as they left to continue their work in the D.C. area.
I’m grateful to attend Georgetown, a place where my Catholic faith can be enriched not only in Mass, but among Muslims and Mormons as well.