—THE THIRD PETAL—
THIS is the third "petal" of a flower of prophetic words that Fr. Kyle Dave and I received in the Fall of 2005. We continue to test and discern these things, while sharing them with you for your own discernment.
First published January 31st, 2006:
Fr. Kyle Dave is a black American from the southern United States. I am a white Canadian from the northern Canadian prairies. At least that’s what it looks like on the surface. Father is actually French, African, and West Indian in heritage; I am Ukrainian, British, Polish, and Irish. We have vastly different cultural backgrounds, and yet, as we prayed together in the few weeks that we shared, there was an incredible unity of heart, mind, and souls.
When we speak of unity between Christians, this is what we mean: a supernatural unity, one that Christians immediately recognize. Whether ministering in Toronto, Vienna, or Houston, I have tasted this unity—an immediate love-knowing-bond, rooted in Christ. And it only makes sense. If we are his Body, the hand will recognize the foot.
This unity, however, goes beyond merely recognizing that we are brothers and sisters. St. Paul speaks of being of “the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing” (Phil 2:2). It is a unity of love and truth.
How will the unity of Christians be achieved? What Father Kyle and I experienced in our souls was perhaps a taste of it. Somehow, there will be an “illumination” in which believers and non-believers alike will experience the reality of Jesus, alive. It will be an infusion of love, mercy, and wisdom—a “last chance” for a wayward world. This is nothing new; many of the Saints foretold such an event as well as the Blessed Virgin Mary in alleged apparitions around the world. What is new, perhaps, is that many Christians believe it is imminent.
THE EUCHARISTIC CENTER
The Eucharist, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, will become the center of unity. It is Christ’s body, as Scripture says: “This is my body…. this is my blood.” And we are His Body. Therefore, Christian unity is intimately tied to the Holy Eucharist:
Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (1 Cor 10:17)
Now, this might take some Protestant readers aback as most of them do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist—or as Jesus put it:
…my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. (John 6:55)
But I saw in my mind’s eye the day coming when Pentecostals and Evangelicals will be pushing Catholics aside to get to the front of the church to Jesus, there, in the Eucharist. And they will dance; they will dance around the altar the way David danced around the Ark… while stunned Catholics look on in wonder. (The image I saw was of the Eucharist in the monstrance—the container which holds the Host during Adoration—and Christians worshiping with great joy and acknowledgment of Christ among us [Mt 28:20].)
The Eucharist and the unity of Christians. Before the greatness of this mystery St. Augustine exclaims, "O sacrament of devotion! O sign of unity! O bond of charity!" The more painful the experience of the divisions in the Church which break the common participation in the table of the Lord, the more urgent are our prayers to the Lord that the time of complete unity among all who believe in him may return. —CCC, 1398
But lest we fall into the sin of triumphalism, we must also recognize that our Protestant brethren will also bring their gifts to the Church. We have already seen a foreshadowing of this recently in the great conversions of Protestant theologians who brought and continue to bring with them into the Catholic faith not only thousands of converts, but new insights, fresh zeal, and infectious passion (Scott Hahn, Steve Wood, Jeff Cavins and others come to mind).
But there will be other gifts. If the Catholic Church is rich in spirituality and Tradition, Protestants are rich in the spirit of evangelism and discipleship. God did pour out his Spirit on the Catholic Church in the 60’s in what became known as the “Charismatic Renewal”. But rather than heeding the Pope and the statements of Vatican II which recognized this “new pentecost” as necessary for the “building up of the body” and “belonging to the whole Church”, many clergy literally shoved this movement of the Spirit into the basement where, like any vine needing sunshine, open air, and the need to bear fruit, it eventually began to shrivel—and worse, cause division.
THE GREAT EXODUS
At the onset of the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII exclaimed:
I want to throw open the windows of the Church so that we can see out and the people can see in!
Perhaps the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Renewal was God’s grace to breath new life into the Church. But our response was either too slow or too unwilling. There was a funeral procession almost right from the beginning. Thousands of Catholics left the stale pews of their parishes for the vitality and excitement of their Evangelical neighbors where their new found relationship with Christ would be fostered and shared.
And with the exodus also left the charisms which Christ gave to His Bride. Decades later, Catholics would still be singing the same old songs they did in the 60’s, while Evangelicals would sing out spontaneously in their assemblies as new music poured forth from young artists. Priests would continue to search publications and internet sources for their homilies while Evangelical preachers would speak prophetically from the Word. Catholics parishes would close in on themselves as routine gave way to apathy, while Evangelicals would send missionary teams by the thousands to harvest souls in foreign countries. Parishes would close or merge with others for lack of priests while Evangelical churches would hire multiple assistant pastors. And Catholics would begin to lose their faith in the Sacraments and authority of the Church, while Evangelicals would continue to build mega-churches to welcome new converts—often with rooms to evangelize, entertain, and disciple fallen away Catholic youth.
THE BANQUET GUESTS
Alas! Perhaps we can see another interpretation of the King’s wedding banquet in Matthew 22. Perhaps those who have accepted the fullness of Christian revelation, the Catholic faith, are the invited guests welcomed to the banquet table of the Eucharist. There, Christ offered us not only Himself, but the Father and the Spirit, and access to the treasuries of heaven where great gifts awaited us. Instead, many have taken it all for granted, and allowed fear or complacency to keep them from table. Many have come, but few have feasted. And so, invitations have gone out to the byroads and backstreets to invite those who would receive the Feast with open hands.
And yet, those who accepted these new invitations passed by
the choice Lamb and other nutritious foods, opting instead to banquet only on the desserts. Indeed, our Protestant brothers and sisters have missed the main course of the Eucharist and many fine vegetables and salads of the Sacraments and family Traditions.
Ecclesial communities derived from the Reformation and separated from the Catholic Church, "have not preserved the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Holy Orders." It is for this reason that, for the Catholic Church, Eucharistic intercommunion with these communities is not possible. However these ecclesial communities, "when they commemorate the Lord’s death and resurrection in the Holy Supper… profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and await his coming in glory. —CCC, 1400
They have often feasted instead on the delights of the charisms and the sweetness of emotion…. only to find themselves looking for something richer, something more savory, something deeper. All too often, the answer has been to move to the next dessert table, ignoring the Head Chef dressed in his miter, seated in Peter’s Chair. Fortunately, many Evangelicals have a great love for Scripture and have been fed well, even though interpretation at times is dangerously subjective. Indeed, many of the mega-churches today teach a shadow of Christianity or a false gospel altogether. And the subjectivism so rampant in non-Catholic communities has led to division after division with tens of thousands of denominations forming, all claiming to have “the truth.” Bottom line: they need the Faith which Jesus passed on through the Apostles, and Catholics need the “faith” which many Evangelicals have in Jesus Christ.
MANY ARE CALLED, FEW ARE CHOSEN
When will this unity come? When the Church has been stripped of everything not of its Lord (see The Great Purification). When that which is built on sand has crumbled and the only thing remaining is the sure foundation of Truth (see To the Bastion-Part II).
Christ loves all of his Bride, and would never forsake those whom He has called. He especially will not forsake that foundation stone which He himself firmly planted and named: Petros—the Rock. And so, there has been a quiet renewal in the Catholic Church—a new falling-in-love with the teachings, truth, and Sacraments of the Catholic (katholicis: “universal”) faith. There is a deep love growing in many hearts for her liturgy, expressed in both her ancient and more modern forms. The Church is being prepared to receive her separated brethren. They will come with their passion, zeal, and gifts; with their love of the Word, prophets, evangelists, preachers, and healers. And they will be met by contemplatives, teachers, ecclesial shepherds, suffering souls, holy Sacraments and Liturgy, and hearts built not on sand, but on the Rock which even the gates of hell cannot shatter. We will drink from one chalice, the Chalice of One for whom we would gladly die and who died for us: Jesus, the Nazarene, the Messiah, King of kings and Lord of lords.
- Rock services, or liturgy? Read: MegaChurches?
- On the interpretation of Scripture: The Fundamental Problem
- A question on a movement toward the Latin Rite. See Some Questions and Answers.
Under the sub-heading WHY CATHOLIC? there are many more writings relating to my personal testimony as well as explanations of the Catholic faith to help readers embrace the fullness of Truth as revealed by Christ in the Tradition of the Catholic Church.