Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Call for Unity This Holy Pascha

"We really can't be photographed together like this, Your Holiness. That horrid American blog will make a caption contest about us!"
And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen... —Luke 24:5-6

A joyous Easter to all of you!

Whether you're Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant or "just a Christian" (which basically means you're a Protestant with commitment issues, but let's not go there today), you know that today is the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Today, death has no sting, and we face the world without fear, but I wish to call attention to something else, which may be overlooked this miraculous day.

As is the case every few years, all Christians celebrate Easter on the same date this year, whether they follow the Gregorian or Julian calendar. So, it is easy to forget the deep divisions which still shatter the worldwide Christian family. For the better part of a millennium, the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches have been separated. Two out of every three Christians claim membership in one of these great Churches.

The differences between East and West are largely cultural. The most entrenched ideologues in both Churches will insist that the two are irreconcilable, but much of this comes from long-standing grudges and the bitterness to which humans of all faiths (and no faith) all too often succumb.

But all of them agree on the miracle of the Eucharist — indeed, the wonder of all seven Sacraments; on the special place of Mary, Queen of the Apostles; and on the importance of understanding historical tradition as our guide, alongside the Sacred Scriptures.

Next month, Pope Francis, Patriarch of the West, will visit the Holy Land. During his time there, he will meet, once again, with Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the Eastern Orthodox Communion. Let us pray, on this Resurrection Sunday, that old wounds might be healed, and that dialogue might progress from mere words to true unity, so that we can say with confidence at every Mass and Divine Liturgy, "I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church."

"The Church must breathe with her two lungs!" —Saint Pope John Paul II, "Ut Unum Sint"



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