"Pray always without becoming weary." Lk 18:1
In the 17th chapter of St. John's gospel, Jesus prays that his disciples may be one, but even a cursory glance at the history of the church reminds us that unity is not uniformity. There are 13 rites, many of which have multiple subdivisions, in the Roman Catholic Church and each of these rites, "possess their own hierarchy, differ in liturgical and ecclesiastical discipline, and possess their own spiritual heritage." l In other words, while the liturgy, language, law and spirituality may differ markedly, the Christ who is their center is the same. It is this unity that St. Josapha worked so hard to attain.
Josaphat, working 500 years after the Great Schism between Eastern and Western churches of 1054, spent his entire life in pursuit of the unity for which Jesus prayed. Now almost 1000 years old, the task of unity, not uniformity, remains a vital goal of the church. At Vatican II, the Council fathers made it clear Christian unity was one of it's principal concerns,2 and though elusive, the unity among the churches as a sign of Christ's unbroken love, remains remains a goal of the 21st century church. How very important then to listen to Jesus' command to pray always without becoming weary. No matter how difficult life in the churches might become, we must continue to pray and trust that God will bring us to a new unity as Christians.
Today, quietly examine the issues that divide your family and/or your parish and ask God for a path of unity and peace.
What do you think are the marks of unity in the Church?