January 19, 2016
“Jesus Who, because of infinite love for humanity, wanted to be in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, as our Consoler and as Bread of the Soul.” -Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
This week, in addition to being a week of pro-life prayer, is also a week of prayer for Christian Unity--that we, all Christians, might be one as Jesus and the Father are one.
On Saturday night I spent some time catching up with three of my Protestant girlfriends. They are all smart, fun, leaders in their faith communities, and trying to live holy lives. A conversation started about knowing God's will for us and communicating with Him. Most of all they desired closeness with Him and greater knowledge of Him. At one point one of the women asked me, "Lauren, when we talk about these things, are you sitting there thinking about the Eucharist the whole time?" She caught me! I was deeply edified by their deep faith and their dedicated prayer lives. At the same time I was supremely grateful for the Sacraments--that in times of trouble, Jesus always waits for me in the tabernacle. Still, I wanted the conversation to continue--to see what answers they would propose to their questions and to see how they dealt with the same struggles I have.
Though the theme of Christian unity doesn't neatly fit into Pier Giorgio's life, I think there is some crossover, especially in his work to spark dialogue between young Italian and German Catholics after the First World War. He wanted to promote peace and understanding. While there are lots of wishy-washy approaches to ecumenism, there are ways to do it authentically, and there are common causes for which we can all pray. Honest conversations, which don't compromise what you believe but also don't shout over the other person, are also useful. And I'm always surprised by what I learn--especially because the old trope is often true that Protestants spend a lot more time than we do reading the Bible (though our interpretations sometimes differ). They are often very good at building up community. In my friends' churches it is unheard of to not know the name of someone who sits in the pew next to you every week. I hear about the formats of various social elements of their churches and find myself spinning them around in my head, thinking about if and how they may be adapted to Frassati or something else in our Church.
This is all to say that through friendship and conversation--two very Frassatian elements--we too can advance the cause of Christian unity. We can also pray, just as Our Lord did, that eventually our separated brethren become one with us, that we may all come to believe in "one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all" (Ephesians 4:4-6).
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us!