Why do we have a ‘Week of Prayer for Christian Unity’? Why just a week…? Why not a month…or a year of prayer? Maybe it should be a lifetime of prayer…….?
But I have more questions…! Why do we pray for unity at all?
What separates Christians? What causes disunity? Were we ever united?
I do not have answers that satisfy…but I do have questions!
Let me assume that we all believe (‘We’ being Catholic and Protestant, Orthodox and Messianic) that Jesus is God incarnate (come in the flesh, born of the Virgin Mary) and that through him we are again in fellowship with God…not by anything we’ve done or could do..but but grace! That Jesus is the only way to God and through him, with him and in him we are saved! We have the deposit of the Holy Spirit now living in us through a new birth, not of the flesh..but by the Spirit and the water of the new creation! Let’s not get too screwed up here with the words I am using poorly..but let us agree the all who are ‘in Christ’ are united..just as The Father and Son are one…so are all who are in Christ! The Prayer of Jesus in The Good News of John, chapter 17 speaks about the unity Jesus has with The Father, and about how that same unity is now to be given to the whole world through the Good News..the message his disciples would proclaim..make known…so that the world would believe!
But the world doesn’t believe! Why?
Part of the question I ask is why are Christians seemingly disunited…? Why do we have a week during the year to pray for unity? Why or how, can those in Christ be disunited?
May I be so bold as to tell you what I see the problem is…? It is power and the struggle to hold onto power! It is the understanding that I am right and you are wrong! It is where we claim to have the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…yet miss Him, who is the truth! When we presume to have the answers and that our answer is the correct one..when we create systems and liturgies that separate the Children of God into those who can and those who can’t..those who have and those who don’t…when we create power hierarchies that rule from a power system of top down, rather than following the example of Jesus, and serve from the bottom upwards…we create false divisions in the Body of Christ!
To pray for unity, for me, is a complete misnomer….! If we are going to pray…let it be for repentance..for a dismantling of power systems, for new humble servant hearts…for strength to stand up and open our hearts and our church buildings..our services..our liturgies and the great Eucharistic feast, at the Lord’s table, to all in Christ!
Let us pray to dismantle the systems of the world that have infected the Body of Christ with its desire for power and celebrity status! Let us stop playing this ‘Week of Prayer for Christian Unity’ game, that allows and conditions us, to annually accept, the segregation of God’s children, in the name of Christ!
Sometimes tables need to be turned over…theses need to be nailed to doors…
Br. Michael Daly, CJ
12th January 2017
This morning I was out with one of my Franciscan Sisters and we decided to call into see how a local Christian Community was doing? First mistake! OMG…what we found was a holy huddle who neither greeted us or took time out from their most holy prayer/bible reading…to welcome us! We felt so unwelcome that I was almost physically sick from the stench of their religious piety! If we were complete strangers…heavens knows what would have happened! But we knew most of the folk there, but all were somehow mesmerised into a kind of stupor, that was so indicative of a very controlling spirit! There was no fruit of joy, or love or kindness…no, there was no fruit other than a bitter imitation, which seemed to be devoured by those present! I was reminded of Matthew 10: 40 where Jesus tells us that those who welcome you welcome me…but there was no welcome! And then again in the Good News of Matthew: verses 5 – 6 Jesus reminds us about praying and where to pray… instead of putting on such external shows of sanctimonious piety…we should go into the closet and close the doors so that it is done in secret…(oh.. but what if we are interrupted..?)….I think it is something about loving others and welcoming others and caring for others and feeding others………..!
Well, these Christian really love one another and show it so beautifully, don’t they…!??????? I think I prefer atheists than these stinkers!
Please bring me a bucket…. the stench is disgusting!
Br. Michael Daly, CJ.
11th January 2017
These are extraordinary times!
The following news item comes from America Magazine The National Catholic Weekly. I am blogging it as I really can’t believe it! I have that strange feeling that I’d like to scream!!
Michael Daly. C.J.
Save the Altar Girls
This is not a local story, but one that represents larger trends in the church—in the priesthood, the liturgy and in the role of the people of God. Recently Sts. Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix, Ariz., changed its policy on altar servers. From now on only boys may serve; girls may apply for jobs as sacristans. Why? The rector of the cathedral told The Catholic Sun that the cathedral is not alone in making this regulation. A parish in Ann Arbor, Mich., and the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., he argues, have found that replacing girls with boys as servers leads to more vocations to the priesthood.
These moves to limit laywomen’s access to the altar threaten to drag the church back into the pre-Vatican II world. One wonders if next the altar rail will return, another barrier between the priests and the people.
According to the rector, people who are upset about this decision concerning Mass servers make a mistake in considering it “a question of rights,” as if someone’s rights were being denied. But, he says, no one has a “right” to be a server or even more a priest. One must be “called” to any church office. When the secular world comments on who should be an altar server, he says, it has only an emotional view, unguided by the light of reason.
The key issue is the status of the baptized: that the laity may be called by the Spirit to offer their talents in various roles. The rejection of altar girls disregards the counsel of the Second Vatican Council that the charisms of the baptized “are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation.” By virtue of baptism, the council reminds us, “there is neither male nor female. For you are all ‘one’ in Christ Jesus.” There is “a true equality between all with regard to the dignity and activity which is common to all the faithful in building up the Body of Christ” (“Dogmatic Constitution on the Church,” Nos. 12, 32).
That this call should be fully welcomed does not appear to be a priority in Phoenix. Yes, the Vatican instruction “Sacrament of Redemption” (2004) allows women servers, but it leaves the decision to local bishops. In Phoenix the bishop leaves it to the pastors. This pastor did not consult the parish council, he says, because its members are not theologically trained.
Another issue is the image of the priesthood today. Is it wise to re-enforce the sense of the priesthood as a clerical caste? Is the acolyte supposed to be like the page who serves Sir Galahad until King Arthur dubs him a knight? In a culture where parents want their daughters to have the same opportunities as their sons—in co-ed Catholic colleges, in the armed services, in athletics, in employment—the church can look irrelevant, even foolish, in shunting them aside. The more the priesthood is presented as an exclusive club, the smaller and more remote it will become. Those who put up barriers between themselves and the people should, using modern parlance, recall Jesus’ words to his disciples: “Look, how many times do I have to tell you? You are here to serve.”
Inevitably the issue of women’s roles in the church raises the question of women’s ordination to the priesthood. Recently a cardinal in Lisbon and some bishops in Brazil, among others, also raised the question; but since Pope Benedict XVI, despite continued agitation, has reaffirmed the policy of John Paul II to allow no discussion of the topic, the matter of altar servers must be considered a separate and independent issue.
In no way should policies imply that women are second-class citizens—welcome to tidy up the sacristy, arrange flowers and clean linens but not to set the gifts at the altar or hold the sacramentary or censer. Rather, they must be welcomed into every service and leadership role, including catechists, lectors, chancellors and general secretaries of bishops’ conferences. (The diaconate for women remains an open question and ought to be explored.) Churches that invite all their people to bring all their talents to the welfare of the congregation will thrive. To tell a young woman that she may no longer pour the water on the priest’s fingers at the Lavabo looks like sexism. If the ban in these dioceses continues and spreads, perhaps women and girls will consider withholding their other services to the parishes, and men and boys, in solidarity with their sisters, will decline the honor of acolyte.
Having girls share serving opportunities with boys is an expression of their equality in Christ. Parishes must create a variety of social and service activities. A distinguishing characteristic of today’s young men and women, even when they are not “devout” in the usual sense, is their rejection of discrimination in any form. They are highly sensitive to any hint of exclusionary policies in organizations. Perhaps if more young people believed they could continue that commitment to equality as priests, more would be ready to follow a priestly vocation.
I have so many people to thank for being there for me and for helping me see the bigger picture in 2010. Some are known to me personally…others are not. I have been blessed this year by friends near and far who have shared the pilgrimage. I have been blessed by writers and musicians whose hearts desire is to love God and make His love known to a world which is crying out for love. Words placed on a table of grace have fed me and chords from heavenly choirs have melted my too often frozen heart. I have been blessed by young people who have so many questions and a passion for Jesus that leaves me breathless. I have been blessed by older and more mature folk who have wrestled at the Jabbok and have come away limping….but renewed in the love and power of God. I have listened to testimonies and sermons of broken lives healed and I have been encouraged, comforted and edified through prophet and teacher, pastor and priest.
Here are some of the saints who have touched my life with blessing. (In no particular order…..) Mike Norcock. Roger Crosthwaite. Dave and Carol Bishop. Kathy and Gordon Lee. Chris Spain. Brian McLaren. Henri Nouwen. John and Debbie Purfield. Anthony Purfield. Brian and Susan Betts. Jonnie and Pam Bugden. Phil and Gill Asselin. Brennan Manning. Gregory A Boyd. Colin Brooks. Eddie Harvey. Stephen Daly. Boniface Moran. Jim and Sue Hough. Marie Miller. Nathaniel, Daniel and Stephen Daly. Rene and Anette Jorgensen. Penny Ward. Thelma Wood.Amanda Pattenden. Trevor and Bonnie Lyne. Br Charlie Coxall C.J. Sr Marianne Ansari. C.J. Br. Dylan Dickerson. C.J. Sylvia Kirkpatrick. Beth Ann Willis. Mark Mills-Powell. Colin Bass. Alex Welby. Matthew Lee. Ian Rossol. Andy Glover. Darin Hufford. Gerard Kelly. Joshua Bishop. Glen Packiam. Chris Atkinson. Jim Palmer. Bob Adams. Wayne Jacobsen. Mike Creasy. Sr. Ambrose. Sr. Sharon. Tracey Jeffreys. Dennis Costley. Andy and Heidi Belton. Richard Rohr. OFM. Paul Daly. Marigold Rivett-Carnac. Michael and Bridget Kitts. Francis MacNutt. Todd Agnew. Kim Walker. John Michael Talbot. Wes Sutton. Roger Forster.Jon Paul Jackson. Danny Silk. Mike Yaconelli. Vicky Beeching. Gayle Erwin. …and numerous others who have kept the flame burning in me. Bless you all.
I came across this interview with Dr. NT Wright on the BBC ‘Radio 4 Today’ Website. I think it is worth a hearing.