Tuesday, September 11, 2012



 This past Sunday marked the celebration of Our Savior’s parish feast.  Although the actual patronal day is 9-14 (Exaltation of the Holy Cross), we transferred the commemoration to Sunday in order to encourage more folks to attend our solemn Evening Prayer and parish supper.  As always, it was well attended.

          This year the liturgy, though completely Roman, was marked with an ecumenical flavor.  Pastor Joy Blaylock of St Paul ELCA co-presided and was our guest preacher; Pastor Chris George of 1st Baptist also co-presided and led the Intercessions and Lord’s Prayer.  Members of both congregations were in attendance and joined us afterward for a pork tenderloin dinner.  Lutherans brought salads and sides; Baptists brought desserts. 

          The evening was a glimpse of what could (and should) be with brothers and sisters in Christ; it was at marked divergence from the climate of our world—both in terms of national politics and in terms of international tensions.  What marks the rest of the world all too much—hate and violence—were inverted at Our Savior as we rejoiced in love and tolerance.  Indeed, how good and pleasant it is (see Psalm 133)!

          There were times during the service (notably, during Pastor Joy’s preaching, during the Magnificat/Canticle of Mary, and the closing hymn) that I could not control my emotions of gratitude, happiness and longing for this to be a regular and not a special occasion.  I know that I have brothers and sisters in the ecumenical effort who feel the same way.

          “What separates us besides our ideas?  Admit that these are of little consequence,” once said Abp Angelo Roncalli (aka, Pope John XXIII).  How right was he?  I often wonder…

          The biggest divides between denominations seem to me to be ecclesial rather than doctrinal (though those do exist as well).   What I mean is that we all confess Jesus Christ as Lord, though we disagree on how the Church should be structured, governed and should operate.  How “central” are these?  Jesuits, Cistercians and Franciscans all have differing forms of governance, and not to embrace any one means you are not one of them.  Yet all are still Catholic.  The many rites of the Church reflect significant liturgical and even theological variation, yet all are still Catholic.   Pharisees and Sadducees disagreed about the reality of resurrection, yet they could share a seder together.  I know you can see where I’m going.  And I am not sure this is a deviant path to pursue.

          We declare that we are all united in Christ to some degree through our mutual baptism. How much “to some degree” is necessary?  What does it mean to be “in full communion” when we consider, for example, the sometimes pro forma behavior of baptized Catholics who nevertheless are welcomed to Holy Communion? 

          I pray constantly:  “Come, Holy Spirit:  FILL the hearts of your faithful…”  It will take His touch, but if we are open, it can happen!

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