Day 115: Wounds to Unity (817-822)
It’s Day 115!!
Today we recognize the WOUNDS TO UNITY
There are wounds that have led to division
There are wounds that have been caused by Christians in the past
Sometimes we don’t undo those wounds
We don’t heal those wounds
A lot of times we are ok with the fact that the Body of Christ is divided
We are ok that the Church does not have unity
Paragraph 817 says, “In fact, ‘in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church-for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame.’”
This is not meant to be throwing stones, casting aspersions, or pointing fingers
PEOPLE FROM BOTH SIDES WERE TO BLAME!!
Paragraph 818 says, “‘However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers…All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.’”
That is the term…
Even those separated ecclesial communities
They have grace
They have elements of sanctification and truth
God wanted UNITY
Sin caused DISUNITY
We live in this broken world
Amongst those moments of disunity with those other churches and denominations, the Church says the Holy Spirit is present
There is a life of grace
There are interior gifts
There are visible elements of God’s presence
There is truth
At the same time, Jesus Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper was that the Body would be ONE
Paragraph 820 says, “This is why Jesus himself prayed at the hour of his Passion, and does not cease praying to his Father, for the unity of his disciples: ‘That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us,...so that the world may know that you have sent me.’”
Yes there is painful division
We are not trying to blame any one person
We even affirm the fact that the Holy Spirit can and does work through other denominations
At the same time…
We cannot be CONTENT with the fact that the Body of Christ is divided
We cannot be ok with the reality that the Body of Christ has been cut up into pieces
We cannot be ok with the fact that Jesus begged His Father that the Church would be ONE
That His followers would be ONE
AND WE ARE NOT ONE RIGHT NOW!!
That should cause us GREAT PAIN
If we love what Jesus loved, then we love that UNITY
If our hearts are broken by what breaks Christ’s heart, then this disunity should break our hearts as well
We all ought to be working for UNITY
We ought to be praying for UNITY
So let’s pray right now!!
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven, we give you praise and we call upon your Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit that is the Soul of the Church. Lord God, we are followers of Christ, your Son. We experience division. Not only do we experience division in our own hearts, and division in our relationships, but there are divisions among your believers. And you don’t want them. You don’t rejoice in those things. You don’t rejoice in those divisions. They grieve your heart. So we ask you, Lord, help bring us back together because it is not the action of human beings that will ever bring the Church back together. It will only be the work of Grace. It will only be your work that brings your Body back into One. That heals the divisions among all Chistians, it will only be your Grace and your miracle that can take your Body that has been so torn and tattered and battered and make it whole again. But we know that you can do this, Lord. Even in spite of our brokenness, in spite of our sin, we know that you can work that miracle. So we ask you, Lord God, this day, work that miracle. Overcome what divides us by what unites us. And make us One again for your Glory and so that the world may know that you have sent your Son, Jesus Christ. We make this prayer in His name. Amen”
So there we have it!!
THIS IS SO GOOD!!
Is this good for you?
There is so much AFFIRMATION
There is something about BEING POSITIVE
We know that from the very beginning Jesus Christ established ONE CHURCH
That is a matter of HISTORICAL RECORD
That ONE CHURCH (you can trace it ALL THE WAY BACK) is the CATHOLIC CHURCH
WE KNOW THAT!!
FROM THE VERY BEGINNING!!
St. Paul wrote in his First Letter to the Corinthians about the factions and rivalries among them
He told them they can’t do that
They can’t say they belong to Apollus or they belong to Paul
Paragraph 817 says, “But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church-for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame.’”
We can’t go around pointing fingers at each other
What causes division?
Let’s look at our own hearts and attitudes toward denominations
Sometimes we think variety is the spice of life and that’s ok
It’s ok that there are around 20,000 to 35,000 Christian denominations in the United States ALONE
THAT IS SO MANY!!
We think that’s just how it is
It gives people a lot to choose from
Everyone can find their place
THAT IS NOT WHAT GOD INTENDED!!
GOD INTENDED A UNIQUE UNITY!!
A unity where everyone DOES find their place
They find their place NOT IN THEIR OWN VERSION OF CHRISTIANITY
They find their place in that ONE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST
THAT ONE CHURCH THAT JESUS HIMSELF HAS FOUNDED
The Church affirms the fact that there are SEPARATED BRETHREN
They have FAITH
They have BAPTISM
So they TRULY are our brothers and sisters
Paragraph 819 says, “‘Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth’ are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: ‘the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements.’ Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as a means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church.”
THAT IS INCREDIBLE!!
THAT IS GREAT!!
So we AFFIRM THAT
The last sentence there could seem prideful and arrogant but it is just being honest
It is a POWERFUL sentence
The Church is the universal sacrament of salvation
How does Christ’s grace get to the world?
THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT WORKING THROUGH THE CHURCH THAT HE FOUNDED!!
We have so many non-Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ who love the Word of God
Where did they get that from?
They got it from THE CATHOLIC CHURCH!!
The life of grace…where does that come from?
Jesus gave His grace and His Holy Spirit to those original Apostles united with that FIRST POPE named Peter
It’s not a triumphalistic attitude
The Church on earth is a Church that STILL HAS TO FIGHT
There is glory because God still does amazing things through His Church on this earth
There is also struggle
So it’s nothing to brag about right now
St. Paul even says not to boast in anything except for the Cross of Jesus Christ
We don’t boast about the gifts that God has given the Catholic Church
It’s just a gift
At the same time…
Amidst all this division and amidst all these good things that Christ has given to His Catholic Church and has given to these other ecclesial communities we have to be praying for UNITY
Paragraph 820 says, “Christ always gives his Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her.”
That is why Jesus prays His prayer at the Last supper
THAT THEY MAY ALL BE ONE!!
We HAVE to strive after, and hopefully God-willing recover, the UNITY OF ALL CHRISTIANS
That is a gift of Christ
It is a call of the Holy Spirit
It’s worth praying and saying, “Lord, heal the divisions.”
Paragraph 822 says, “Concern for achieving unity ‘involves the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike.’ But we must realize ‘that this holy objective-the reconciliation of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of Christ-transcends human powers and gifts.’”
None of us are going to do this with negotiations
No one can strategize and plot and plan and make it so there is unity once again in Christ’s Church
If it happens, it will be the work of the love of the Father for us
The power of the Holy Spirit
AND that prayer of Jesus Christ for His Church
It will be an Act of Grace
It will be a MIRACLE
BUT HERE’S THE THING…
The life of the Christian is a life that PRAYS FOR MIRACLES
The faith of the Christian is a faith that PRAYS FOR MIRACLES
If you are Catholic we have to pray for the UNITY OF ALL CHRISTIANS
We have to pray that once again we will be gathered around with ONE SHEPHERD around ONE ALTAR
If you are not Catholic but have joined us then realize THIS might be the Lord’s personal invitation to YOU to help unity actually be ACCOMPLISHED
How does it happen?
Here is Fr. Mike’s soliloquy that I am not going to type out… 😉
Maybe this is Jesus’ invitation to YOU to take that step to be an agent of RECONCILIATION and an agent of UNITY and taking a step closer to the Catholic Church
We talk about RECONCILIATION a lot
Maybe this is God’s invitation to that to all our brothers and sisters who are not Catholic but are Christians and followers of Christ
You have this burden on your heart of a burden towards UNITY
Because you have the heart of Jesus and Jesus prayed for UNITY
The division among His BODY grieves Him
AND IT GRIEVES YOU!!
Maybe reconciliation isn’t what someone else needs to do
Maybe reconciliation isn’t what your local church needs to do
Maybe reconciliation is what Jesus Christ is inviting YOU to do
By taking one more step closer to being received into FULL COMMUNION with the Catholic Church
Maybe that is EXACTLY what Jesus is inviting you to do
WE ARE NOT MEANT TO BE DIVIDED!!
WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE UNITED!!
So let’s pray for that!!
If you’re Catholic, Fr. Mike is praying FOR YOU!!
If you are not Catholic, Fr. Mike is praying FOR YOU!!
YOU ARE LOVED!!
WE REALLY ARE BROTHERS AND SISTERS!!
WE REALLY ARE BECAUSE OF BAPTISM AND THE HOLY SPIRIT!!
OUR PRAYERS FOR EACH OTHER REALLY DO MATTER!!
Fr. Mike is praying FOR YOU!!
Please pray for Fr. Mike and for each other!!
I cannot WAIT to see you tomorrow!!