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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Merton on Ecumenism

Ecumenism is on my mind.  Actually, it is never really far from my mind given that my own family is itself an inter-church family, with myself as a Roman Catholic and my wife as an Episcopalian.  But ecumenism is even more in my thoughts as we approach the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council.  I'm currently making my way through the recently published English translation of Yves Congar's My Journal of the Council, and am fascinated by the overwhelming concern Congar had that the Roman Catholic church turn its attention to dialogue with Christians of other traditions.  I'm only at the beginning of this incredible journal, but his ecumenical concern is found on almost every page.

And this afternoon, while re-reading Thomas Merton's Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, I came across this beautiful paragraph on the relationship between ecclesial unity and the unity that must exist within ourselves.
If I can unite in myself the thought and the devotion of Eastern and Western Christendom, the Greek and the Latin Fathers, the Russians with the Spanish mystics, I can prepare in myself the reunion of divided Christians.  From that secret and unspoken unity in myself can eventually come a visible and manifest unity of all Christians.  If we want to bring together what is divided, we can not do so by imposing one division upon the other or absorbing one division into the other.  But if we do this, the union is not Christian.  It is political, and doomed to further conflict.  We must contain divided worlds in ourselves and transcend them in Christ.

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