Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Is it not time to end the schism?

"Is Christ divided?" (1 Corinthians 1:13).

Today concludes the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which runs from the feast of the Confession of St Peter (or "Chair of Peter") to the Conversion of St Paul. The octave of prayer began in the early 1900s with Franciscans in the Episcopal Church, the Society of the Atonement, who were searching for reconciliation with the See of Peter. They were reconciled in 1909.

This week, I was reflecting on the sermon series I gave over the course of last summer based on the catechism of the Prayer Book. If I were to one day become a Western-rite Orthodox priest or an Anglican-use Roman Catholic priest and want to pull this series out of my old files and deliver it again, I don't believe I would need to change a word of it (at least as far as statements of doctrine go).

I only mention it to point out how close we have come to Christian unity and yet how far away it still seems to be. We have overcome so many obstacles, and yet come up with new ones at the same time. God help his foolish people!

Is Christ divided? No. The truth is rather more bleak--we are divided from Christ. The timing of the octave of prayer reminds that unity is to be found when we return to the confession of Jesus as Lord and pursue unity with the continual conversion that knocked St Paul off his horse. It is time for us in the West to labor diligently to end our 450 year schism and for our eastern brethren to end their 1,000 year schism. We cannot do it on our own, but God will not bring it about if we harden our hearts to his will. Let us continue to pray for God's grace to accomplish his will.

"Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the LORD: look to the rock from which you were hewn" (Isaiah 51:1).

A Prayer for the Unity of the Church
O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior, the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Anonymous said...

The Orthodox Catholic Church is not in "their schism".

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Reconciliation is a two-way process. It isn't up to just one of the parties, as your wording implies.