Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Blog # 180 Ecumenism
Blog # 180 Ecumenism. Assembled in Rome on the occasion of Vatican Council II, the world Bishops issued a document in 1964 on ecumenism. When the document was issued I would say not many Catholics were familiar with the word let alone any responsibility they might have toward what the Council would outline as the responsibility of us all. Along this line, sadly, it would seem, not much on Main Street has changed. It is now 47 years later. Christian ecumenism has been defined as an effort, activity, or movement among believers in Jesus to work through mutual understanding, prayer, and dialogue toward the achievement of unity. Ecumenism is less a call for a particular kind of activity than a quality infused into all Christian thinking and activity. The council makes it very clear the essential thing is a change of heart, a willingness to follow the Spirit's lead in guiding us toward the fulfillment of the prayer of Jesus that all would be one in Him, our common unique divine Savior.(Jn 17:11). The first paragraph of the decree reads as follows: "Promoting the restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the chief concerns of the Second Vatican Council. The Church established by Christ the Lord is indeed one and unique. Yet many Christian denominations present themselves as the true heritage of Jesus Christ. To be sure, all proclaim themselves to be disciples of the Lord, but their convictions clash and their paths diverge, as though Christ Himself were divided (cf. 1 Cor, 1:13). Without doubt this discord openly contradicts the will of Jesus, provides a stumbling block to the world, and inflicts damage on the most holy cause of proclaiming the Good News to every creature." (Jn 17: 20 - 26). (Emphasis mine). Three characteristics of paramount importance for contemporary ecumenism are these: REFLECTION, REFORM, AND DIALOGUE. Reflection: We must look about us at the vast proliferation of church bodies currently existing, wonder at it, and respond in our minds to this division among Christian believers. Then we must examine ourselves to discover if there is anything in our way of thinking and acting that makes it more difficult or practically impossible for someone in another Christian community to see in us the will and plan of God for salvation and holiness in and through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. What is defective we must correct. What is missing we must supply. Then we talk with our Christian neighbors about our situation and theirs. That is the hope and the dream and the work of ecumenism. May it be our hope and our dream and our work. I hope you will join me and at least place the intention of ecumenism on your daily prayer list. I am confident the Father is pleased with such a prayer. It was the prayer of Jesus. Thank you!