The blogsphere these days is rampant with discussion on the recent Vatican document that provided some "clarification" on words, terms, and issues related to Christianity beyond Catholicism. I have to admit, I've had to read and re-read, counsel with wise and trusted guides on this journey, and pray with the document. That's a good thing, I've discovered. It is evidence of God living and working in my life.
Those who don't know me may not know that divisions in the "body of Christ" in our world, in our time, was what first opened my awareness to God's calling in my life to Catholicism. I'm sure at some point in my blogging life that will come out in more detail. For now, suffice it to say that this is "important stuff" to me. From my early teen years, finding how to contribute "my part" to unity among believers, finding how to embrace Christian brothers and sisters in appropriate ways, and being heart-broken at the divisions among Christians has been my portion. I'm both grateful for it, and at times lament it. It's like the pain of a child over a broken family. I can only imagine what the divisions must do to Christ Himself, who allowed His body to be broken so that we could find unity with Him in God... and among one another.
ANWAY... I was reminded this weekend that MY portion - MY effort in this, at least includes sharing, expressing, and enjoying whatever measure of unity among Christians can be ours in the here and now. And man, was I ever BLESSED in that reminder, and the experience.
I was raised for most of my life in the Cramer & Hanover Church of Christ in Lexington. My family are still members of that church - and as I've shared before, it still in many ways feels like "home". I'd wanted to take a time to set aside and thank them for all they've meant to my life personally, to my spiritual walk, all they mean to my family... to thank them for loving and tending to a young lamb like me... and to ask their prayers as I pursue God's calling for my life. Yesterday, we met for a couple of hours to share a meal, fellowship together, and ... live out the measure of unity in Christ we share today. We may not be able to break bread at God's altar together, we may not agree on many fine points of doctrine - there is much, perhaps, that is not "united". But - if we're not careful, we'll overlook - I'll overlook - that there is much that IS united. If nothing more than our hearts & minds in trying to serve our One True God, His Son, and follow His Spirit. And, as our shared fellowship and meal proves, we can reach across what divides us to pray with and for one another, encourage one another, LOVE one another, and see Christ in one another.
Later that afternoon, I was praying at mass. It had been a wonderful day - my sister (who's moving half way across the country soon) came to visit so mom & dad could get to spend some time with the grandkids (who are, dare I say, ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS!!!). In short, God was smiling on me all day. And then, He smiled on me even more brightly, and broke my heart in the tenderest and most amazing way. During the (for me) holiest part of the Holy Sacrafice of the Mass, as we are literally on our knees before the altar of God on which is presented Christ Himself broken for us, the priest - with and for us all - prayed these words:
In mercy and love unite all your children wherever they may be. Welcome into your kingdom our departed brothers and sisters, and all who have left this world in your friendship. We hope to enjoy for ever the vision of your glory, through Christ our Lord, from whom all good things come.
And, as the tears streamed down my face - in awe, and wonder, I once again surrendered the lack of perfect unity among followers of Christ to the only One who can address it - the only One who knows and understands - the One for whom we all, in some way or another, long.
Dona nobis pacem.