Tuesday, September 22, 2009

One Body in Christ

Peace be with you,

Last night, I had the honor of attending one of Belmont Abbey's many shining gems of excellence; the Cuthbert Allen Memorial Dinner for The Ecumenical Institute of the Carolinas. Being a theology major, I received an email looking for general interest in the idea of a college age student giving an hour long presentation about his research of Anti-Catholic sentiments in Greenville, South Carolina. I was happy to see that this student was none other than an old high school youth group friend, Casey Cole. He did an amazing job presenting the information that he collected and analyzed over his ten weeks of research. (side note: It's a truly beautiful thing to see the fruits of Christ manifested in the lives of youth. Casey and I both felt the call to youth ministry while we were active in the same youth group and now Christ has blessed us with the further discovery of our vocation: PRAISE GOD!!!)

After Casey's presentation, the Benedictines welcomed the group to join them in Vespers (night prayer which involves singing the psalms) and the majority gladly joined. Following the service, the Ecumenical Institute hosted a MAGNIFICENT Salmon dinner with roasted herb potatoes, steamed broccoli, delicious salad, and sweet tea. I was given the opportunity to dine with fellow peers and to catch up with Casey about his research and college in general. Our student honoree table included a Greek Orthodox Catholic, a Wake Forest student converting to the Quaker tradition, a Protestant (I forgot the denomination and for that I deeply apologize) and a few Catholics. We were recognized for "efforts, both scholarly and personal, that support the goals of the Ecumenical Institute and for the potential demonstrated to make even greater contributions in the future". I was baffled. All I really did was attend a friend's presentation, go to Vespers, and eat dinner. The dinner moved me to action in this area of the faith so hopefully future blogs will address these ecumenical contributions.

After the scrumptious food we were able to receive wisdom from the erudite Dr. David Steinmetz of the Duke Divinity School on the topic: "Is the Reformation Over?". This man spoke with such conviction and such passion that I couldn't help but be moved for the cause of inter-faith dialogue. Along with the recognition of Msgr. Leigh Lehocky, the events of the night showed me that there really is something to ecumenical efforts. There's a purpose in trying to get the various religions and denominations together and finding common ground. To be quite honest, I used to think that everyone had their own opinions and there was no real way to find "common ground".

Casey's presentation informed me of the ignorance for each others' faiths that the majority of Christians have. We have more in common than not. We may differ in a wide variety of beliefs, but we all believe in being called to love. Christ died for all of us. He died so that we may have life abundantly. He wants us to be happy! Christ didn't create these silly divisions that we argue about. He came to create The Body. He came save the fallen mankind.

Essentially, what I got out of the night was that we are all called to love. We are all working towards the same goal: unity with our Heavenly Father! What if we all prayed for each other instead of criticizing each others' beliefs? We are called to "recognize the Christian substance of the other", not to tell them why they're going to hell.

As a final point, Dr. Steinmentz called us not to grow weary in well doing. We are revived by the same Holy Spirit as the early Church fathers. We are touched by the same Spirit that appeared upon the heads of the apostles at Pentecost. We have a gift! Let's use it for the glory of God!!!

God bless your week! You're in my prayers as I visit the most beautiful St. Joseph Eucharistic Adoration Chapel here on campus. I love you. Please keep me in your prayers as well.

Matt Merry

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