Regarding Christian Unity and Christ’s Call to put Love of Neighbor First.

Below are excerpts and full quotes from the above article:

.- Pope Francis landed in Geneva Thursday for a day-trip aimed at bolstering ecumenical relations, saying that division among Christians comes from worldliness, and Christ must be prioritized over any differences that might get in the way of unity.

In his first official speech after touching down, the pope said Christians are called to walk together along the path of the Spirit, which means “rejecting worldliness” and “opting for a mindset of service and growing in forgiveness.”

“It means playing our part in history but in God’s good time, not letting ourselves be caught up in the whirlwind of corruption but advancing calmly on the way whose signpost is the one commandment: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“We are called, together, to walk along this path,” he said, noting that walking together requires perpetual conversion and “the renewal of our way of thinking, so that it can conform to that of the Holy Spirit.”

It could be said that to walk in this way is to “operate at a loss,” he said, “since it does not adequately protect the interests of individual communities, often closely linked to ethnic identity or split along party lines, whether ‘conservative’ or ‘progressive.’”

The pope then pointed to St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, in which the apostle told the community that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

He also referred to the passage in St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, in which the apostle pointed to divisions in the Christian community of Corinth, saying “each of you says, ‘I belong to Paul,’ or ‘I belong to Apollos,’ or ‘I belong to Cephas,’ or ‘I belong to Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”

What modern Christians are asked to do, Francis said, is “to belong to Jesus before belonging to Apollos or Cephas; to belong to Christ before being ‘Jew or Greek’; to belong to the Lord before identifying with right or left; to choose, in the name of the Gospel, our brother or our sister over ourselves.”

“In the eyes of the world, this often means operating at a loss,” he said of the ecumenical movement.

However, this loss “is evangelical,” he said, and quoted Jesus’ words from the Gospel when he told his disciples that “those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.”

“To save only what is ours is to walk according to the flesh; to lose everything in the footsteps of Jesus is to walk in the Spirit,” he said. “Only in this way does the Lord’s vineyard bear fruit.”

“Ecumenism made us set out in accordance with Christ’s will, and it will be able to progress if, following the lead of the Spirit, it constantly refuses to withdraw into itself.”

Looking at relations between modern Christian churches and the slew of issues which often stand in the way of full unity, Francis said the current experience is akin to that of the early Christian communities in Galatia.

“How difficult it is to overcome hard feelings and to foster communion! How hard it is to leave behind centuries-old disagreements and mutual recriminations!” he said.

At times, it is “more formidable to withstand the subtle temptation to join others, to walk together, but for the sake of satisfying some partisan interest.” However, this is not the mindset of an apostle, but is the attitude of Judas, who walked alongside Jesus, “but for his own purposes.”

The 70th anniversary of the WCC, Pope Francis said, is a call to strengthen the steps toward ecumenism that have already been taken.

He said Christians should not cease their quest for unity when faced with continual differences, and nor should they be overcome by weariness or a “lack of enthusiasm.”

“Our differences must not be excuses. Even now we can walk in the Spirit: we can pray, evangelize and serve together,” he said. “This is possible and it is pleasing to God! Walking, praying and working together: this is the great path that we are called to follow.”

The aim of this path is unity, and the opposite is a path to division which leads to “conflict and breakup,” he said, stressing that the lack of unity among Christians is not only “openly contrary to the will of Christ,” but is also “a scandal to the world and harms the most holy of causes: the preaching of the Gospel to every creature.”

The Lord, he said, “asks us for unity; our world, torn by all too many divisions that affect the most vulnerable, begs for unity.”

And for Christians, to walk together is not merely a “ploy to strengthen our own positions,” but is rather an act of obedience to Jesus and his love for the world, Francis said, and closed by praying that God would help Christians to “walk together all the more resolutely in the ways of the Spirit.”

“May the Cross guide our steps, because there, in Jesus, the walls of separation have already been torn down and all enmity overcome.”

The tunnel

The tunnel catapults me into my emotional quagmire. Where I must sort this thought and that emotion. This weekly trek is not optional. So I take a deep breath and remember your smell, your touch, your voice. I salvage and preserve beautiful memories. I clean away the rotting leaves and choking vines in your garden; and buried beneath these feelings of grief are many green sprouts and blooms, pushing upward toward the sun. And though I am tired, I am glad I came.

A Message from Beyond

It is eight months tomorrow that Mom departed this earth, and it has been hard to recover from losing her. Recently, I found some old books of hers tucked away in the corner of a closet, and it struck me that these books were special to her – perhaps not recently but at another time in her life. The books showed a lot of wear, and the covers were bland with little writing. I packed the books with my things and stuck them in my closet at home until I had a chance to look at them.

Two days later at lunch, a coworker and I shared our experiences with each other of losing our mothers. There were many similarities. She was a retired, English teacher and, in the process of talking, she mentioned several times that she loved the book she was currently reading. Eventually, she said, “Most people say that life is too short for Michener, but this book isn’t as long as the others. It’s one of my favorites.” She mentioned the title, and I paused for a moment. “I think I just brought that book home from my mother’s house,” I said. I went home that day to discover that all three books were by James Michener, and the favorite mentioned by my coworker, The Bridges at Toko-Ri, was one of the three. I wondered about this serendipitous event. I don’t believe in coincidences, so I knew that Mom was trying to tell me something.

Mom had faced her bridges, and now I must face mine too. She wanted me to face her death squarely just as she had done for those five weeks in the hospital. Although it was a terrible loss for me, she wanted me to heal, and she wanted me to understand how to go about the business of doing so, and to assure her that I would do what was necessary to heal. She reminded me through this book that she raised me to have the character to move forward and live fully. And that I must do my job here on this earth, just as she had done hers. This was the kind of person she and Dad had raised me to be.

So I step forward through the loneliness of Thanksgiving and Christmas without her, and yet, with her. For it is times like these that I know Mom is with me in spirit.

Mom

At night, I feel your spirit envelop me in your love. I forever miss you. My heart wants to be where yours is, yet I remain here. I know you pray for me, watch over me. I imagine your big angel wings. I put on your comfortable, warm coat, and you are hugging me and keeping me warm.

Eulogy for Mom

This is what I wrote and read through lots of tears at Mom’s Requiem mass. The music was done in Plainchant Latin, and as I listened, I felt I was standing at the gates of heaven listening to angels sing. It was exquisite and uplifting.

Mom’s Eulogy

How can I do justice to 74 years of a life lived with what amounts to just a few paragraphs. When I think
of Dianne, I think foremost of things she has said and done over the years that have
stayed with me, words and actions that reflect her essence. Dianne was larger than life for me. She saw
me take my first breath. I have known her all of my life because she was my mother. And she told me I
would always be her little girl no matter how old I was. Some of my earliest memories are of our girl
time together – painting our nails and curling our hair. Mom did all the things for me that a mother does:
feeding us, making clothes for us, caring for us when we were sick, but she also taught my brothers and I
to be honest, have a work ethic, and be persons of integrity. She made sure we thought about and
questioned things. She took us to art galleries, museums, and theaters in Washington D.C., and instilled a love for the arts in us. Most importantly to me, she taught me to say my prayers and imparted her
faith to me, enabling me to develop a deep love for God while I was still a young child.

Mom’s nurturing spirit shone best through her gardening. She turned her entire back yard into a
peaceful sanctuary with many different seasonal flowers, bushes, and trees: using every space, carefully
planning where each plant would thrive, and adding new creations every year. Her essence is still there
in her gardens, where a timeless rose bush graces the porch roof with sprays of pink spilling over the
sides, where birds bathe and hollies offer their food. One can feel her presence there. I think of the
quote by James Russell Lowe which she often repeated, “Not what we give, but what we share, for the
gift without the giver is bare.”

Mom also had a strong will, and she never backed down from a challenge. She went back to school in
her thirties, while raising three children. She acquired a bachelor’s degree in sociology and then went to
Georgetown University on scholarship. There, she earned a master’s degree in demography and
subsequently worked for the House of Representatives, Bell Atlantic, and the Census Bureau as a demographer. She was a published author in her field, and she was named in Who’s Who in American
Women in 1984. After her retirement, she returned to school and earned a master’s degree in history at
the age of 70. She did not see impediments along her path in life. She saw opportunities, and she
achieved what she believed she could do, and she never gave up.

Dianne was a daughter, sister, mother, friend, neighbor, coworker, grandmother, great-grandmother,
and a wife. Her best friend and the love of her life was her husband, David. They shared 35 years
together enjoying their dogs and birds, their gardens, and their many discussions about politics, history,
ancestry research, and the latest good movie. They enjoyed learning, and loving life and each other.

If I look closely at those things I loved about my mother, I find that they are right here within my own
heart and soul. I cherish what I have gained from knowing her, from having loved her, and from having
the privilege of calling her Mom. This quote from Edmund Spenser’s, The Fairie Queene, recently
reverberated in my head until I gave it my full attention and wrote it down:
“For whatsoever from one place does fall,
Is with the tide unto another brought:
For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought.”

I leave you with this quote by Saint Teresa of Avila, which I found recently in Mom’s devotional, and
surprisingly, it is one I also know by heart:
“Let Nothing Disturb You,
Let Nothing Frighten You,
All Things are Passing Away,
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
Alone God Suffices.”

Nothing is Lost

A quote I’d heard before went vaguely round in my mind almost without my noticing, as I couldn’t quite remember it. I felt as if my mother wanted me to hear it and remember it. Last night, I sat down to watch a movie based on a Jane Austen novel, and there at the end of the movie was the quote:

“For whatsoever from one place doth fall 

Is with the tide unto another brought: 

For there is nothing lost, that may be found if sought.” 

– Edmund Spenser