Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Eastern Catholics Ecumenical Vocation

     Back when I was in graduate school I took a course on the teachings of the second Vatican council. Unfortunately, coming out of a corrupt catholic undergraduate school that had its own Vatican II understanding I had many reservations about the course. In demonstrating some of my reservations in some of my course work my professor said something that really blew my mind. He said, “The council is the work of the Holy Spirit” and in hearing this my reservations were opened to see what God was doing in the council. One thing in particular that I would like to emphasize that came out of the Vatican II reforms was the Vocation of the Eastern Catholic Churches to be a bridge between the separated Churches, which I believe was the work of the Holy Spirit.
     To some this Vocation is no more than a mistaken notion since we are in fact a testimony of a division that has taken place in the history of the Church. In fact you might be hard pressed to find any Orthodox Christians who see Eastern Catholics as anything like a bridge. On the other end, many of those in the Latin tradition think that we are the Orthodox who finally got it right. It seems for the most part this Vocation is anything but a reality or is it?
     A vocation is a gift from God and it is never dependent upon the circumstances that we find ourselves in, even if those circumstances challenge its very reality. With this in mind it does not matter how the Orthodox or those with distorted views in the Latin tradition see us for we must be that bridge. There should be no confusion about what we are regardless of our origins for this vocation that we have received is a call to action for today from the mouth of God.
     Looking into this call we must realize our historic potential as Eastern Catholics. We stand in a place where we have by vocation the gift to heal what was broken by sins in the history of the Church. Not only do I speak about what is commonly known as the great schism but about all Christian division in general. In saying this what comes to mind is how some of the Melkite Fathers at the Second Vatican Council mentioned the protestant Christians when it came to providing teachings about the papacy. They understood the papacy as a gift for all Christians. As I have stressed in the past we Eastern Catholic Christians have our own understanding of the pope in this regard, which is the pope as the First among equals with the special emphasis on the word First.
     How is it that we are so different then Latin Catholics in theology and practice and yet are able to worship at the same table? This is a great mystery that is becoming more acceptable and tolerable as that great day of Christ’s return approaches. In the mean time we must be true to who we are and to our vocation to be the last bridge standing. Despite what many say or think the Eastern Catholic Churches are God’s special gift of healing to the world. In my deepest opinion I believe that it’s vital that we no longer see ourselves as something negative or acting as some kind of monkey in the middle.
     We are indeed today something unique born out of a conflict but called to be the recapitulation of what has been. Hope must never leave our vocabulary as the vocation takes root no matter what obstacles we see. If God has called us to be a bridge we must lay claim to the teaching of the Prophet Isaiah who said,” so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.( Isaiah 55:11 NIV).”WE are that word today to the Church!

2 comments:

  1. You are doing God's work. I think God was calling me to this even before my formal conversion from being a long time United Methodist minister to a member of the Byzantine Catholic Church. I worship in Homer Glen, Il, btw. I pray that our own bishops will gather a deeper understanding of our vocation as I pray that I will as well.

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