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‘Ecumenism is key to Ecumenical Bible Week’

By Sarah Mac Donald - 27 May, 2015

"Many reflective Catholics are taking up the scriptures because there they find that nourishment that keeps them in a faithful relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit."

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Fr Kieran O’Mahony OSA and Rev Ken Rue.

The ecumenical dimension of Ecumenical Bible Week is key, Dr Kieran O’Mahony, who is co-chair of the faith event has said.

Speaking to CatholcIreland.net, the Augustinian scripture scholar said he was delighted that the week, which is only in its second year, is so supported across the different traditions.

Paying tribute to those who have made venues available for the various lectures, he said the whole event was “healthy sign of good ecumenical relations. They really are good”.

This year’s Ecumenical Bible Week formally opened on Monday and the highpoint will be Thursday evening’s ‘Thinking Allowed’ in All Hallows College which will bring together five church leaders to discuss the question ‘What is the Spirit saying to the churches’ which is a quotation from the Book of Revelation.

“We hope the speakers will speak personally and say what their gut insight is as to where the Spirit is nudging the Christian body into the future,” Fr O’Mahony commented.

Each of the speakers, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Archbishop Michael Jackson of Dublin & Glendalough, Fr Calin Florea of the Romanian Orthodox Church in Ireland, Pastor Sean Mullarkey of St Mark’s Church and Pastor Tunde Adebayo-Oke of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, has 6-7 minutes to outline their thoughts.

This is then followed by an open forum where the audience may ask questions or make comments.

Last year’s ‘Thinking Allowed’ was attended by 170 people and it is expected that this year will have as many if not more people, as many were very taken with the level of interaction which the open forum provided.

Ecumenical Bible Week also has a number of other lectures taking place at venues in Dublin and beyond. For instance, on Thursday evening at the same time as ‘Thinking Allowed’ is going on in All Hallows, Sr Celine Mangan is discussing the Bible and Ecology in St Mattias’ Church in Killiney.

At lunchtime today in St Paul’s Church on Arran Quay in Dublin, Éibhlís NicUaithuas looks at the Bible for Beginners. Later at the same venue, this evening, Andrew Fanthom, coordinator of the Scripture Faith sharing Group in Rathmines parish called ‘Salt of the Earth’ presents ‘The Gospel in our Lives’.

Over in Lutherhaus House on Adelaide Road in Dublin this evening, Dr Kieran O’Mahony will give a talk on ‘Jesus Breathed on Them’ – the gift of the Spirit in the Fourth Gospel.

The lectures explore the bible in dialogue with something – it is rarely ‘pure bible studies’. So there are topics such as the Bible and mindfulness, the Bible and law, the Bible and film, the Bible and music, and the Bible and ecology.

It is “a little bit issue driven to make it more interesting to people and help them realise there is more to it than a particular story of faith and religion.”

“To people unused to scripture, the approaches are a bit unexpected. Many tend to think of the Bible as a source of instruction and moral instruction, so when you see these other ways of opening up the Bible, I hope it intrigues and enriches and draws people forward,” Dr O’Mahony told CatholicIreland.net

He said that if people find it works for them they might take the initiative themselves and open up their own Scriptures and get in touch with other people of the same frame of mind and support each other in their exploration of the Bible.

“One of the ways people can create a sense of belonging is through praying scripture or studying scripture together,” he said.

He said that increasingly people are anxious to learn about scripture.

“When I was growing up, the culture carried the faith, and the social practices and customs brought you along and confirmed and supported faith. That has really vanished and perhaps that is a good thing. Now that the culture is no long carrying it, people have to struggle to sustain their own faith.”

“Many reflective Catholics are taking up the scriptures and are glad to take it up because there they find that nourishment that keeps them in a faithful relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. There is no tsunami but there is a movement towards that and naturally as a Bible scholar I am very much in favour of that. It is not the whole future but it is one essential building block,” he explained.

Fr O’Mahony’s own particular area of interest is the Letters of St Paul. He has just returned from Greece where he and a group followed in the footsteps of St Paul.

“It is a trip I’ve done a number of times but each time I change the text. This time we were reading 1 Corinthians. We started up in north east Philippi and made our way over a number of days over to Corinth south of Athens. We saw sights associated with St Paul in Philippi, modern day Thessaloniki, Corinth and Cenchreae where Phoebe was leader of the church.”

“Between Philippi and Thessaloniki you have Ignatian Way, a roman road which St Paul is likely to have used – it brings you into his world. The sights are very interesting and it brings it alive. It gives you a more nuanced understanding.”

For more information: http://www.bibleweek.ie

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