The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

Hawaiian Inculturation: Island Wisdom and the Eternal Truth of Christ

Authored by Dallas V. Carter in Issue #4.3 of Catechetical Review

As a young boy, my grandfather (kupuna kāne: KOO-poonah KAH-nay) taught me important and practical knowledge that was unique to island-living: fishing, taro farming, herb collecting for traditional Hawaiian medicines, and underground cooking with lava rocks and banana leaves. He also taught me, as generations before him had done, those ethical principles that guide Hawaiian culture. Some of these include: the importance of song (mele: may-lay) and storytelling (mo'olelo: moh-oh-lay-loh) in handing down our culture, the necessity of caring for the land (Mālama 'Āina: MAH-lah-mah AE-nah), and the indispensability of reconciliation, healing, and restoration (ho'oponopono: hoh-oh-poh-noh-poh-noh). Growing up before the age of Twitter and Facebook, I assumed that children all over the world learned these values. I did not realize that I was receiving an ancient and rare wisdom unique to the Hawaiian Islands. During my formative years at Franciscan University, the ancient wisdom of my Hawaiian heritage co-mingled with the universal truths and beauty of the Catholic faith that enlivened my understanding of and love for both. The more I learned about our rich Catholic faith, the more I realized that many of the lessons my grandfather taught me were the perfect primer for me to engage, understand, and internalize many eternal truths of the faith. It is as if God had inspired essential aspects of the Hawaiian pre-Christian culture I learned from my grandfather with values, significant expressions, and a living tradition that easily transitioned to original expressions of the Christian life, celebration, and thought. Searching the Depths of a Culture This reality is encompassed in the Catholic concept of “inculturation,” which, in short, is the process of examining the roots of a culture through the lens of the Gospel and to "bring the power of the Gospel into the very heart of culture and cultures.”[2] The term “inculturation” is taken from various documents of the Magisterium.[3] The concept of inculturation, though championed and elegantly explained in recent times by Pope St. John Paul II, is not new. The root of inculturation is the example of Christ himself. The Second Person of the Trinity was incarnated and inserted into the particular culture of a particular time. He engaged the apostles within their own culture and gave them the fullness of Truth. Within a century, they, in turn, spread the Gospel across Eurasia. Marks of their inculturation to the different peoples they evangelized can still be seen today in the glorious array of differing liturgical expressions throughout the 24 sui iuris churches that make up our Catholic Church in Hawaii.

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!


This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting [email protected]

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

From the Shepherds — A Broad View Makes for Fruitful Ministry
By Archbishop Charles Thompson
Free Given the vast richness of the Catholic Church, we run the proverbial risk of failing to see the forest for the trees. At any given moment, there are great things happening in a parish, diocese, province, region, or the Church universal. For instance, in addition to the Synod on Synodality taking place in the Church universal and the National... Read more
Catholic Schools — Building Support for Parents from Catholic Schools
By Clare Kilbane
Free Teachers, administrators, and others working in Catholic schools are devoted to their students. They want what is best for them. This is why they will want to increase the variety and level of support offered to parents. Doing so will not only help mothers and fathers fulfill their responsibilities to their children but also help the school... Read more
Scribes for the Kingdom: Leveraging Old Media into New
By Jason Gawaldo
“Then every scribe who has been instructed for the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old” (Mt 13:52). The scribes were the lay ecclesial ministers and catechists of their day. They safeguarded the Scriptures and written traditions of Israel so that they could be passed down and... Read more

Pages

Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now