Faith and Interfaith by Hilary Canto

Toronto Area Interfaith Council's Multifaith Vigil for Healing and Peace.
Toronto Area Interfaith Council’s Multifaith Vigil
for Healing and Peace.
What do we mean by the term faith? We usually mean faith as belief or religion, but we have faith in each other, faith in a partner, faith to trust that something will work out and faith in identity. We use the word faith with many meanings and I would like to add faith is a deep immovable force within us, very different to belief.

In my last article I briefly outlined how interfaith works in community and it is important to understand this is not about one universal faith or religion, but connecting through the commonality of faith shared in all religions. Interfaith moves between different religious practices, sharing the thread of faith where we come together in unity. Interfaith makes a difference, however small, through engagement of experiencing the meeting point and seeking equivalence in another. Interfaith worship is engaged in with full awareness of difference and disagreement. All faiths or religions are honored as pathways to relationship with the Divine.

In Interfaith Worship and Prayer Jehangir Sarosh opens his chapter on Zoroastrianism considering our current crisis and praying together:

“Everything in creation is either evolving or dying, and the time has come to realize that and to accept that the only way forward is to acknowledge the interconnectedness, the interrelatedness and the interdependence of creation. Either we live well together or suffer and die apart.”

He continues: “Many factors are contributing to the rapid changes that are taking place: globalization, climate change, movement of people, the demands of economic wellbeing, loss of trust in religious institutions. At the same time, there is a rise in the individual search for spiritual growth. This desire for spiritual growth requires religious institutions to abandon their exclusiveness and grow, evolve and move forward as part of the family of humanity. Praying together is not just an approach for a few to follow while being ignored by the exclusivists; it is a moral decision that affects the wellbeing of the whole human family and especially of future generations. The saying is ‘don’t curse the darkness; light a candle.’ Interfaith prayer helps to light the universal light.”

Our relationship with faith in each other’s humanity is at the heart of Interfaith Worship. Yet we have to comprehend our capacity for relationship with the Divine and higher purpose and this extract helps from Relationships and Higher Purpose – Marshall Vian Summers in the New Message from God:

“As your desire and capacity for relationship grow, so will your comprehension and appreciation for God. That is why there are many different experiences of God and why some of these experiences can seem quite contradictory to one another. This is because of the differences in people’s comprehension and capacity to experience God. Here there is a little God, a medium-sized God, a great God, a magnificent God and eventually a God without limit. This is why it is useless to argue about God. You must realize that people have different capacities for experience and will therefore draw different conclusions. Your understanding of God should never be a conclusion, by the way. This will enable it to grow and to expand.”

When we expand into individual relationship with the Divine we relate through shared identity where faith becomes knowing the sacred relationship which transcends earthly existence, but directs us to service in the world with freedom of a different nature to what we consider personal freedom to be. Uniting inner and outer sacredness gives a different experience of being human, of faith in divinity and shared human identity.

The pandemic, LGBT and Black Lives campaigns, political and religious extremism, civil disorder, oppression, tech and scientific takeover are all aspects of a crisis of faith and unity within and without. If we observe ourselves there is a huge elephant in the room, a thread of distraction, diversion, division and control with fear in the world right now and faith being tested. Faith in each other to do the right thing, faith in finding the truth to solutions, faith in being recognized for who we are, faith in the sacred to guide us, faith in believing we have a shared identity as ONE human family.

Centuries of oppression are releasing identities crying out to be accepted, rebelling against control, holding leaders to account whilst they crumble on old foundations of their nations, using force to control from their own fear of losing power. People are rising up, recognizing the planet and humanity needs help. The wellbeing issues of the young, old, and vulnerable are highlighting the need for unity and shared identity.

Hi tech and space programs are not saviors, FAITH in each other, loving each other and bringing love of the Divine into this world helps us evolve as one planetary family. By praying and worshipping together in churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, homes and open spaces we strengthen the unseen force within us and the light of faith connects us to serve where we are needed.

We cannot come to shared identity where the core of our strength and courage lies if we remain divided in chaos because our faith is weakened. The forces in the world who seek to control win over the forces in the world that support freedom for the human race and saving Earth. Only through faith in unity as one human family can we overcome this crisis. Even though violence may be in this uprising, it is vital we heal division, unite and free humanity by keeping faith together, strong and alive. As Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town said “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”