To commemorate this year's International Year of Light, which celebrates the importance of light and its role in new technologies, Jesuit astronomers at the Vatican Observatory have launched a number of new initiatives aimed at increasing dialogue with Muslims, nonbelievers and Catholics, who may not know that their faith and science are not at odds.
Jesuit Father Jose Funes, an expert in galaxies and head of the Vatican Observatory, joined Iran's Embassy to the Holy See to sponsor a Jan. 13-15 workshop studying "The Role of Astronomy in Christianity and Islam."
Because it is the same moon, sun and stars for all people, space and astronomy are the perfect common ground for encounter and dialogue, Father Funes said at a news conference Jan. 9.
"It's the same light for Christians, Muslims and nonbelievers," he said.
"Light is extremely important in religion and culture, not just for science and technology," he said, noting that the light from the sun and its reflection on the moon are the foundation for telling time, creating calendars and establishing the rhythms that guide prayer, day and night.(See full report here)
As this blog is posted Christians in many communities will gather to celebrate the feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, also known as Candlemas, a feast of light.
Inspired by the words of the Canticle of Simeon ("a light to the revelation of the Gentiles"), by the 11th century, the custom had developed in the West of blessing candles on the Feast of the Presentation. The candles were then lit, and a procession took place through the darkened church while the Canticle of Simeon was sung..
In Brisbane's St John's Cathedral there is a set of windows on the west front dedicated to Christ, the light of the Cosmos. Included in the window's imagery is a tribute to Albert Einstein
In this centenary year of Einstein's discovery of general relativity we have a place of pilgrimage in this year of heightened awareness between religions and science.