The "Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue" was held online October 22. There were Catholic representatives Father Alexei Smith from Saint Andrew Church, Professor Michael Kerze from Los Angeles Valley College, Susana Santana from St. Vincent de Paul, Darya Jones and Robert Copollina from Loyola Marymount University, and Buddhist representatives Abbot Ven. Bhante Chao Chu from Los Angeles Buddhist Union, Rosemead, Ven. Hui Ze from Fo Guang Shan Hsi Lai Temple, Rev. Fredrick Brenion and Patrick Chou from Higashi Honganji Temple, Debra Boudreaux and Sabrina Ho from Tzu Chi Foundation. A total of 11 people attended.
At the beginning of the conversation, Father Alexei thanked Hsi Lai Temple for attending the 39th Annual Red Mass of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He said the Catholic Red Mass was to commemorate Saint Thomas More who was martyred in the 15th century to defend judicial equality. The current Red Mass is an annual blessing ceremony held for judicial personnel such as judges and lawyers. It also traditionally symbolizes the beginning of a new judicial year for the government.
Then, the convener Michael Kerze invited Father Alexei to share about the Eucharist, the Catholic Sacrament, which is one of the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church. The sacrament ceremony uses bread and wine to represent the flesh and blood of Jesus, and commemorates the sacrifice of Jesus and the Passover Seder with the Twelve Apostles. The Catholic Church believes that through the consecration of the bread and wine, the entirety of the bread is transformed into the body of Christ; the entirety of the wine is transformed into the blood of Christ. Therefore, when Catholics receive the sacrament from priests, Jesus actually comes to the scene and sacrifices for the world again. Catholics must also be grateful when accepting the sacrament, so the sacrament is also called the meal of thanksgiving.
In response to Father Alexei's sharing, Ven. Hui Ze of Hsi Lai Temple said that Buddhists should adhere to the "Five Meal Contemplations" when dining. Among them, "assess the amount of work involved, weigh up the origins of the food" which means that when eating, we must be grateful for all the hard-work and support of the many who helped to bring the different foods onto our plate, and reflect upon our daily efforts. In addition, we must maintain our mindfulness when we have a meal, just as Catholics must be grateful for the sacrifice of Jesus when they receive the sacrament.
Before the end of the conversation Michael Kerze, the convener, shared he hopes to continue the sharing of ceremonies between Catholicism and Buddhism.
Ven. Hui Ze was invited to share about Buddhist repentance ritual and Father Alexei to share about Catholic confession for the next dialogue. The dialogue ended successfully, with participants looking forward to attending the next wonderful dialogue in December.