CHRISTIAN UNITY
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"that they may all be one" John 17:21

From the Pope's Letter  on Commitment to   
Ecumenism   
"
Ut Unum Sint", Pope John Paul II: p. 39,
"It was in order to reaffirm this duty that I set
before the faithful of the Catholic Church a
model which I consider exemplary, the model of
a Trappistine Sister, Blessed Maria Gabriella
of Unity, whom I beatified on January 25, 1983.
Sister Maria Gabriella, called by her vocation to
be apart from the world, devoted her life to
meditation and prayer centered on chapter
seventeen of Saint John's Gospel,
and offered her life for Christian unity."
Sister Maria Gabriella pray for us who desire unity!
QUESTION:
Should Christians be united?
In the Gospel of John 17:20-21; Jesus prays the night before He was crucified; "I do not pray for these only,
but also for those who believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art
in me, and I in thee, that they may also be in us, so that the world may believe that thou has sent me."
Jesus not only tells us through His prayer to seek unity among the believers, but, He tells us we need to be
one "as He and the Father are one", "as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee". Jesus is saying "as the
Father thinks, Jesus thinks, and so all Christians should think!

NOT 33,000 DENOMINATIONS!
According to the World Christian Encyclopedia (2001) by David B. Barrett, there are “over 33,000
denominations in 238 countries.” Every year there is a net increase of around 270 to 300 denominations.
According to Barrett’s study (1970), there are 8,196 denominations within Protestantism.

JOKE: Protestant minister once said:
"There are only two things that multiply by division, amebas and Protestant Churches"!

Jesus also tells us that this is to happen right here on earth, "...so that the world may believe that thou has
sent me". The only way that the world will know that the heavenly Father sent Jesus is, when all Christians
are united. The only way that the world can acknowledge this is if it happens here on earth!
Yes, perfect unity will occur in heaven, but we need unity of all Christians here on earth so that the "world
may know"!p.2 DOE, (Decree On Ecumenism)
This movement toward unity is called ecumenical. p. 87 DOE,
The ultimate goal of the ecumenical movement is to reestablish full visible unity among all the baptized.

False Ecumenism
p. 89 DOE, "In this courageous journey toward unity, the transparency and the prudence of faith require us
to avoid both false irenicism (promotion of peace)and indifference to the Church's ordinances. Conversely,
that same transparency and prudence urge us to reject a halfhearted commitment to unity and, even more,
a prejudicial opposition or defeatism which tends to see everything in negative terms.
To uphold a vision of unity which takes account of all the demands of revealed truth does not mean to put a
brake on the ecumenical movement. On the contrary, it means preventing it from settling for apparent
solutions which would lead to no firm and solid results. The obligation to respect the truth is absolute. Is this
not the law of the Gospel?
Our Holy Father is telling us that we need to avoid "false ecumenism"! We can not water down our faith to
the least common denominator, and expect unity! That would be "False Ecumenism"! We need to speak
"the truth in love" as ST. Paul says to the Ephesians, 4:15.

MEDITATION:
From the Encyclical Letter, "Ut Unum Sint", Of the Holy Father John Paul II,On Commitment to Ecumenism p.
96,
The ministry of unity of the Bishop of Rome.
Among all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities, the Catholic Church is conscious that she has
preserved the ministry of the Successor of the Apostle Peter, the Bishop of Rome, whom God established
as her "perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity" and whom the Spirit sustains in order that he
may enable all the others to share in the essential good. In the beautiful expression of Pope Saint Gregory
the Great, my ministry is that of servus servorum Dei.
(The Servant of the Servants of God [added]) This designation is the best possible safeguard against the
risk of separating power (and in particular the primacy) from ministry. Such a separation would contradict
the very meaning of power according to the Gospel: "I am among you as one who serves" (Lk 22:27), says
our Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church. On the other hand, as I acknowledged on the important
occasion of a visit to the World Council of Churches in Geneva on June 12, 1984, the Catholic Church's
conviction that in the ministry of the Bishop of Rome she has preserved, in fidelity to the Apostolic Tradition
and the faith of the Fathers, the visible sign and guarantor of unity, constitutes a difficulty for most other
Christians, whose memory is marked by certain painful recollections. To the extent that we are responsible
for these, I join my Predecessor Paul VI in asking forgiveness.
There is a picture that is a great Lenten
meditation, it is a picture of Our Lord after the
scourging.
Our Lord's hands are bound,
His Sacred Head bears the
crown of thorns and He has
the purple robe of mock
royalty draped across His
shoulders. His body is
scarred to the point of looking
like a torn piece of cloth!
We are aware that each
cruelty suffered by
Jesus is a result of the
sins of mankind.
While imagining Jesus' body torn like an
old rag, think of each tear in His body as
caused by the separation of each
"church" from the Church He established
on ST. Peter.
Jesus in the "Divine Mercy Novena" says for the 5th day;
"Today bring to Me THE SOULS OF THE SEPARATED BRETHREN and immerse
them in the ocean of My mercy. During My bitter Passion they tore at My Body and
Heart, that is My Church.
As they return to unity with the Church,
My wounds heal and in this way they alleviate My Passion."
Each separation took place because of mankind's sins! Each tear in Christ's body is
a result of pride! There is the name of a different denomination for each wound.
PRAY:
COME HOLY SPIRIT!

The call to holiness means saying "Yes" to the movement of the Holy
Spirit in your life; on a moment-to-moment basis. If we do this the
Spirit will show us where and when to make our approach.
It may simply be a conversation at the Flea Market with one of the
vendors. Maybe a comment is made about the Catholic Church and
you know that they misunderstand the Church, it would be your duty
to know the truth and then share it with "gentleness and reverence".
[1 Pt 3:15]
UUS p. 59, "...the quest for Christian unity is not a matter of choice or
expediency, but a pursuit which springs from the very nature of the
Christian community."
The opportunity may come when a son or daughter who has left the Church for a "Bible Church" visits for the
holidays.
One priest felt called to supplement his public preaching by writing pamphlets refuting Calvinism, then sliding
them under the doors of the inhabitants. Ultimately, 70,000 were reunited with the Church through ST.
Francis De Sales' influence!

PRAYER
James 5:16, "The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects."

Remember I told you to seek holiness first. That was because the "prayer of a holy man has great power".
Sounds like a Catch 22, we need to pray to become holy, and we need to be holy in order to have powerful
prayer!
So, we need to do as the Apostle says: "Pray constantly", [1 Thess. 5:17], before, during and after!

Do you have any idea when your religion was founded and by whom?
If you are a member of the Jewish faith, your religion was founded by Abraham about 4,000 years ago.
If you are a Hindu, your religion developed in India around 1500 B.C.
If you are a Buddhist, your religion split from Hinduism, and was founded by Buddha, Prince Siddhartha
Gautama of India, about 500 B.C.
If you are Roman Catholic, Jesus Christ began your religion in the year 33 A.D.
If you are Islamic, Mohammed started your religion in what is now Saudi Arabia around 600 A.D.
If you are Eastern Orthodox, your sect separated from Catholicism around the year 1,000.
If you are Lutheran, your religion was founded by Martin Luther, an ex-monk in the Catholic Church, in 1517.
If you belong to the Church of England (Anglican), your religion was founded by King Henry VIII in the year
1534 because the pope would not grant him a divorce with the right to remarry.
If you are Presbyterian, your religion was founded when John Knox brought the teachings of John Calvin to
Scotland in the year 1560.
If you are Unitarian, your religious group developed in Europe in the 1500's.
If you are a Congregationalist, your religion branched off from Puritanism in the early 1600's in England.
If you are a Baptist, you owe the tenets of your religion to John Smyth, who launched it in Amsterdam in 1607.
If you are a Methodist, your religion was founded by John and Charles Wesley in England in 1744.
If you are an Episcopalian, your religion was brought over from England to the American Colonies and
formed a separated religion founded by Samuel Seabury in 1789.
If you are a Mormon (Latter-day Saints), Joseph Smith started your church in Palmyra, N.Y..the year was
1830.
If you worship with the Salvation Army (it is a religious group), your sect began with William Booth in London
in 1865.
If you are a Christian Scientist, you look to 1879 as the year your religion was founded by Mary Baker Eddy.
If you are a Jehovah's Witness, your religion was founded by Charles Taze Russell in Pennsylvania in 1870's
.
If you are Pentecostal, your religion was started in the U.S. in 1901.
If you are agnostic, you profess an uncertainty about the existence of God.
If you are an atheist, you do not believe in the existence of God.

THIS UNITY CAN ONLY OCCUR IN THE CHURCH ESTABLISHED BY JESUS ON
ST. PETER!

There are three proofs that show that true unity can only be achieved in the Catholic Church.
1.) Bible Matthew 16:18

2.) History
shows that in the beginning there was one church established by Jesus, this is supported by
statements of History outside the Catholic Church. i.e., Ann Landers, "If you are Roman Catholic, Jesus
Christ began your religion in the year 33 A.D."
Webster's Universal College Dictionary, Catholic -
1. of or pertaining to the Roman Catholic Church
2. pertaining to the Christian Church that was formerly undivided".
Encarta - Concise Encyclopedia Article - The Microsoft Network:Catholic Church. The term catholic was first
used in the letter of Saint Ignatius of Antioch to the Smyrnaeans (about AD 110).
History - Until the break with the Eastern church (See Orthodox Church) in 1054 and the break with the
Protestant churches in the 1500's, it is impossible to separate the history of Christianity in general.


PLEASE! FOR A MOMENT.
Picture a church in your mind...  
Now visualize part of that church breaking off, maybe about 25% ...this would be the Schism of the Eastern
Orthodox Church in 1054 A.D.
Catholic Church splitting
Now there are always little splinters breaking off but only about a hair's breath wide and most of these
disintegrate and there is nothing left.
Now visualize again about 25% breaking off again! This would be
Catholic Church splitting again
the Protestant reformation! 1517

After awhile all those split into smaller and some larger groups, some disintegrate and disappear, some grow
but not at the rate of the original column which has been growing all these years!
The Catholic Church is still the largest pillar. (At present there is about 1 billion Catholics in the world,[This
Rock, April '97]) It would make sense that to achieve unity, all the smaller columns need to come together.
Splintering the columns further will not bring about unity and stability!
Our Holy Father Pope John Paul II had A VISION of future unity! His vision entailed a
knowledge of the past. The first 1000 years of the Church suffered very little disunity
then in 1054 we had a major split. Then for the next 1000 years the "Body of Christ"
the "Church' continued to split, with a rather large split in the Protestant Reformation.

The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II had a vision for the "New Millennium", the next
1000 years as one of "Christian Unity"!

ONLY THE HOLY SPIRIT CAN BRING ABOUT UNITY!
BE OPEN TO THE HOLY SPIRIT  MOVING YOU TO GREATER UNITY!

DOE = Pope Paul VI "
Decree On Ecumenism"
UUS = Pope John Paul II "
Ut Unum Sint", On Commitment to Ecumenism
CCC =
Catechism of the Catholic Church

[Hilaire Belloc]
The reason for the Primacy of Peter is unity!

SOLA SCRIPTURA
The greatest attack against the prayer of Jesus that "all may be one" John 17:21, is the Protestant
Reformation because:
The Protestant attack differed from the rest [other heresys] especially in this characteristic, that its attack did
not consist in promulgation of new doctrine or of a new authority, that it made no concerted effort at creating
a counter-Church , but had for its principal the denial of unity. It was an effort to promote that state of mind in
which a Church in the old sense of the word - that is, an infallible, united, teaching body, a Person speaking
with Divine Authority - should be denied; not the doctrines it might happen to advance, but its very claim to
advance them with unique authority.
Thus, one Protestant may affirm, [...], the truth of all the doctrines underlying the Mass - the Real Presence,
the Sacrifice, the sacerdotal power of consecration, etc. - another Protestant may affirm that all such
conceptions are false, yet both these Protestants are Protestant because they communicate in the
fundamental conception that the Church is not a visible, definable and united personality, that there is no
central infallible authority, and that therefore each is free to choose his own set of doctrines.
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especially the best Catholic ask forgiveness? Look at that picture. You and I are guilty! 1John 1:10 If we say,
"We have not sinned," we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
We added to the separation and sometimes still do.

How can we stop tearing apart the body of Christ?
The Church gives us a "Game Plan", it consists of four parts!
Game Plan:
Holiness
Know the Faith and Live it
Make the first approach and share the "Truth in Love"
The fourth is really the first and the second and the third;
prayola


PRAY BEFORE DURING AND AFTER EACH PART!

Holiness
Babsie Bleasdel a world renowned Catholic Charismatic Conference speaker once said, when speaking on
the "Gifts of the Holy Spirit" at a conference in Jacksonville, Florida that: "If we try to use the Service Gifts
without first making use of the Holiness Gifts we would cause disunity and confusion!"

I want to make the same point! That is; if we try to bring about unity in the "Body of Christ" without first
seeking holiness in our lives...we will cause disunity!

Pope Paul VI in His "Decree On Ecumenism":
P.10, All the faithful should remember that the more effort they make to live holier lives according to the
Gospel, the better will they further Christian unity...
P. 7, All Catholics must therefore aim at Christian perfection.

Know the Faith and Live it
1 Peter 3:15; our first pope speaking to all Christians; "Always be prepared to make a defense to any one
who calls you to account for the hope that is in you,..."
In order to make a proper defense we would need to know our faith first.
CCC 1303, The Effects of Confirmation - it gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and
defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and
never to be ashamed of the Cross.
So, we see from the Bible and the Catechism that we need to know our faith, spread the Gospel message
and be able to defend it.

Make the first approach and share the "Truth in Love"
DOEp 7, Catholics, in their ecumenical work, must assuredly be concerned for their separated brethren,
praying for them, keeping them informed about the Church, making the first approaches toward them...
When I first read of the Pope's statement in the encyclical; that he asks for forgiveness for any pain the
Catholic Church may have caused anyone in the separation of the Churches, I did not know how to feel.