Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Christian Unity

Silence of the lambs.
The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity comes to a close today, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.  I've never been a great devotee of this observance.  I of course pray for these intentions and all of the intentions of the Holy Father, but I'm not sure I do much else, or even think very deeply about it.
Sometimes I've lamented the fact non-Catholic friends do not understand why they can't receive Communion with me, especially when they see the whole church going forward for Communion.  I can explain it to them, but they still don't really 'get it'.  Likewise when I'm with a devout Orthodox or Anglican Christian - we find we believe exactly - or close enough - the same things, but there is no inter-communion.  Ordinary people do not see division as clearly as the theologians and scholars, and in a time when errors are taught more often than truth, it is no wonder ordinary people become confused, if not apathetic.
Ecumenism seems to me to be a rather vague term in the first place.  I recall learning about it in the 6th grade, when we were encouraged to do a project on the subject - for Christian Unity Week of course.  That was in the early '60's - a few years later (1964) Catholics were 'at last' encouraged to join other Christians in prayer for Christian unity.  (That got out of hand of course, and we see many abuses today.)  Nevertheless, I chose for my project to interview a married Orthodox priest and learn about Russian Orthodoxy.  I had calendars and icon prints and wrote a very good report - which included the issue of married priests in the Eastern rite.  Sr. Lillian decided not to permit me to give my presentation, I never knew why.  Somehow, I got the feeling she didn't know what ecumenism meant either.  So much for Christian Unity Week back then.  I saw Sr. Lillian years later at a Fatima event, she was one of the few of her order still wearing the old habit, and wasn't at all interested in our reunion. 
So yeah, I pray, pay, and obey with this one... being a sheep isn't a bad thing.  Perhaps my best efforts for Christian Unity have been my prayers for my parent's conversion and happy death... God heard those.
With all the division amongst Catholics, Christian Unity almost seems impossible, but as we know, nothing is impossible for God.
My best efforts seem limited to prayer and acceptance of non-Catholics, Christian or not, devout or not; after all,  we share the same planet.  That said, I'm not interested in worship outside the Roman Catholic Church or the corruption of the Roman rite by non-sacramental, low church innovation and novelty.


  1. Fr Patrick of Monterey10:47 AM

    My feelings resemble yours but I keep thinking about our Lord's prayer at the last supper: "That they may be one...so that the world may believe." On a less serious note, one may reflect that when Jesus comes again He will be looking for a Bride, not a harem.

  2. Father Patrick - Brilliant! Now cleaning coffee off my keyboard.

  3. Anonymous11:28 AM

    My Dear Terry -

    I think your best efforts (prayer) are very fine. People sometimes forget how powerful this is, especially the Rosary, and particularly when several of us are praying together for the same intention.

    Sometimes I pray just to be able to follow God's will and direction, however impossible that will and direction may seem. I have experienced firsthand the effect of this when my parish went through a merger with another parish - we were poles apart in our manner of worship and outlook, but we were given what I consider to be a miracle as a result after the merger was complete - our beautiful new parish and our faithful and devout new pastor.

    It may seem to be a small thing compared to the great issues facing our Universal Church at the moment, but I am grateful and I know for certain that the Blessed Trinity and Our Lady are listening and answer in their own time.

    Susan from Akron

  4. I am so glad your prayers for your parents were answered. That is a beautiful thing. Thanks be to God. :)

    I think all we (i.e. ordinary, lay Catholics with no particular call to special work in this area) can do is pray and try to be good examples.

    Easier said than done.

  5. I have some uncles I love who left the Church in the 70s when the "Spirit of Vatican II" as getting out of hand (for one, a priest in "Peanuts" vestments was the last straw). One is still respectful of Catholicism, the other is suspicious and somewhat angry it seems. I pray for them both to come back, and I know that they are sincerely trying to love Christ - and He's a better judge of that than I am. I don't like that these people I love are separated.

    Another things I HATE, just to mention it, is the suspicion and elitism directed at converts from some who think of themselves as "truly true Catholics". You know, the kind that think Scott Hahn is a dangerous heretic, or who with converts to the Faith would keep quiet.

    I think converts are some of the greatest treasures we have.

  6. Out of harmony is not a recent phenomenon, Terry. Lack of unity began on day one.

    "He descended into Hell and arose on the third day". I pondered often as a kid, why Christ would go to Hell, even for a short time.

    The keys to the kingdom were given to Adam and usurped by satan. But they were needed anew, as promised to Peter; "I will give YOU the keys to the kingdom".
    But first, he had to descend into hell, stand on satan's neck and tell him, "Give me the keys NOW"
    They were needed to be handed to Peter.

    Authority was established, even though on the Last Supper night, the apostles gripped with the thought "who is greatest among them"...imagine that!

    So Peter is in charge, and an outsider like Scott Hahn returns after blindness is cured. His name was St. Paul. And what did he do?

    Paul Corrects Peter at Antioch

    "When Peter came to Antioch, I told him face to face that he was wrong. He used to eat with Gentile followers of the Lord, until James sent some Jewish followers. Peter was afraid of the Jews and soon stopped eating with Gentiles. He and the other Jews hid their true feelings so well that even Barnabas was fooled.
    But when I saw that they were not really obeying the truth that is in the good news, I corrected Peter in front of everyone and said:
    Peter, you are a Jew, but you live like a Gentile. So how can you force Gentiles to live like Jews? "
    ---Galatians 2:11-14

    Right off the bat, disunity comes to fore.

    The comment above about being more Catholic or a true, true Catholic also caught my attention.
    My hearing stopped immediately a few years back. So did my career as a result. I must retrain, and learn American Sign Language as well.

    When I explained to the Director of Vocational Rehab that hearing impairment runs in my family, he was adamant that no such thing exists!
    "You are either deaf since born, Late Deaf--could hear at some point of life, but no longer, OR you were Hard of Hearing.
    Impairment did not exist per him.

    I asked what HE was. He said he was deaf. He added he went deaf at age 6. I sat there in my mind pondering how he could consider himself "deaf" when he announced what "late deaf" was moments before.
    All semantics to me!
    But worst of all are deaf...those who never heard. They believe they are the elite, and many refuse to communicate with late deaf, or hard of hearing. Where I would most expect compassion and understanding, I found it the least. It still shocks me.
    Gaulledet is a University of elite snobs. You best be born deaf if you want to go there.

    What I like about ecumental effort is that it best represents the approach of Christ. He was surrounded with the riff-raff of His time, all the time, to the astonishment of the supposed reverent church folks.

    Even the disciples tried to keep Christ away from the riff-raff and He refused. His claim was on every person born. Every soul counts!

    We got free will wrong with Adam and Eve, had an example of doing it right, made by Christ, and then proceded to get free will wrong anew.

    Christ said "greater things would be done, than HE did, after he returned to heaven,and the Holy Spirit (Paraclete) came".

    Seen any of that at any time?
    I suspect the missing ingredient for the Holy Spirit to craft Church universal....is Unity.

    Like the apostles, we want to each be greatest still, eh?

  7. Terry, I'm so glad that your prayers for your parents were answered. We have so many instances of answers to prayers, how can we not believe in prayer?
    Sister Lillian sounds a lot like a couple of teachers I had in grade school. At least we've gotten a bit beyond that kind of closed-mindedness. I never did believe that my Baptist grandparents weren't going to heaven; in spite of some of the things that used to be said.
    Good thoughts from everyone.

  8. Mercury, I don't personally pay much attention to what converts have to say, so can't comment on that; I prefer to read the early church fathers, saints and popes. People may be suspicious that prominent converts are in it for their own glorification, not that of God. Also, sometimes converts don't leave their previous affiliations completely behind, in that their response to some things is informed by previous life, not by Catholicism.

    I think sometimes people aren't so careful and do things with questionable motivation; I try only to do those church-related things to which I'm motivated by glorification of God. If my motivation is questionable, I don't do whatever it is.

    Terry, I don't have an ecumenical bone in my body except as to Orthodoxy.

  9. Makes sense, Nan.

    I wish I could get more out of reading the Fathers, but it seems they always just send my scruples meter off the mark. I hate it, but that's how it is. Perhaps one of the worst things I have ever done spiritually was read St. Jerome's 'Against Jovinian'.

    Mystical Saints are 1000 times worse, and reading them for me is actually a temptation. :(

    I thought the only Churches where we could truly have ecumenism are the Orthodox, anyway - that is, as in corporate reunion. The others have shed so much dogmatic and doctrinal stuff that the goal for them should be conversion, right?


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