I will be out of town helping my father and step-mom move into their new apartment in Branson MO starting tomorrow morning. So, for the next few days I may not be blogging much. As a result of this family obligation I will also miss the big celebration going on tomorrow in St. Paul.
No, I'm not talking about the Taste of Minnesota. I'm talking about the 30 bishops and numerous other clergy who will be joining several thousand other people to wlecome Co-Adjutor Archbishop John Neinstedt to our Archdiocese tomorrow.
Sorry, Archbishop Neinstedt.
In this case family comes first, and I imagine you would approve. I will miss all the pageantry of being there when the papal legate reads the Letter of Appointment from His Holiness Benedict XVI.
The choirs, The music, The Mass, The party afterwards.
But I'll use the occasion to get up on the soap box now and preach one more time about the need for unity in the Church.
Church, it's time.
We need to rally around our visible point of unity. We need to do it, because our new Archibshop has chosen as his motto "Ut Unum Sint" = "That They May Be One." It will appear prominently on his Episcopal coat of arms. Yes, I know that coat-of-arms stuff sounds kind of old-fashioned, but it's also kind of cool.
That's also the prayer of our Lord Jesus for His Church, as recorded in John 17:21-22. He prays this prayer for us before the Father.
It's also the title of Servant of God John Paul II's 1995 letter, appealing for unity inside the Catholic Church and also seeking reconciliation with our closest Christian cousins, our Eastern Christian brothers and sisters, as well as with other ecclesial bodies.
But, it's not only that. It's also a way of life, of thinking and living in and with the Church.
You know, I didn't start life as a Roman Catholic out this way almost a decade ago. I was more the "cafeteria-style" Catholic back then. Like Julie Andrews, I had a "few of my favorite things" which I clung to. Eucharist. Social Justice. Reconciliation.
I held these treasures close to me when I felt inscure in the storm. Everything I disagreed with or just didn't understand in the Catholic faith, I had little time for.
But as I got more comfortable with the Faith I began to do some exploring. Then, I found to be true what G.K. Chesterton reported in his little treatise The Catholic Church and Conversion:
"At the last moment of all, the convert feels as if he were looking through a little crack or a crooked hole that seems to grow smaller as he stares at it; but it is an opening that looks toward the Altar.
Only, when he has entered the Church, he finds that the Church is much larger inside than it is outside. He has left behind him the lop-side-edness of lepers' windows and even in a sense the narrowness f Gothic doors; and he is under vast domes as open as the Renaissance and as universal as the Republic of the world."
Ironically, I have found greater freedom and expansiveness in submitting myself (I hate even to use that phrase but is the only one that fits) to the Church's living magisterium. This new freedom is greater by far than anything I ever knew in all my years of academic research, theological exploring or pastoral free-lancing. I only wish that I had come to this place earlier in my life.
We all have the opportunity to do that, to renew that commitment to Catholic truth, in a significant way with the arrival of our new Shepherd and Teacher.