Tag: ecumenical union

Ecumenism Without Compromise (last part #7)

Spiritual Gravity

God pulled them out of a Catholic Church and put them into a Protestant sect because God is spiritual gravity and God pulls us towards Himself, like a massive sun.  If His rays are blocked in one place, we must go elsewhere to find them, for find them we must!  They draw us, they give us life.  They are a matter of life or death, not a religious shopping mart.  You may think this God-Gravity somewhat speculative, but why should God have less gravity than the sun?  Why should there be less gravity in grace than in nature?  Why should the spiritual universe be less united by gravity than the physical universe?  The parallel works perfectly.

Look at physical gravity carefully.  It’s like love.  It brings together.  Time and space are principles of dispersion, separation that prevent complete union.  Time disperses our being out into past and future.  Space disperses matter out into various places.  Those two dispersions make death possible.  Time and space enable death to insert its destructive sword between one year, when you live and one year, when you die.  And between one material part of you, let’s say your head, and another, your body.

Yet, despite these dispersions, the physical universe is still united by a universal, gravitational attraction which is a real force of love and union.  A non-random, directed, purposive movement or tendency towards all other matter.  All matter is in love with all other matter.  That is, the universe wants to return to the big bang unity, the one divine source of the many.  In the act of creation, the physical universe runs by the love of God.  “The love that moves the sun and all the stars,” in Dante’s words.

For gravity is not just like love, but gravity is love on a material level.  In fact, it has two movements: one is towards union, back to the center, the big bang, the past by gravity.  And the other is to give itself out to all other beings, out into the future, the expanding universe, by energy, and by entropy, which is energy giving itself out to the empty places.  Aquinas says, “The good is diffusive of itself.”  On every level, from the Trinity to subatomic particles.

Thus the light that leaves the star goes everywhere in the universe forever.  A dropped rock on earth goes to the moon and makes the rocks on the moon shudder just a little.  We can calculate how much, it’s a function of the two variables of mass and distance.  Every mass at any distance exerts some gravity.  When I drop a pebble into a pool, I make ripples all the way to the shore.  And when I drop a good deed into another person’s life, those ripples, tiny and imperceptible though they may be, do not stop short of the shore of death.  And even then, they proceed on to the “third and fourth generation of those who hate God and goodness onto thousands of generations of those who love God and keep His commandments.”

God is the source of all spiritual gravity and God touches us only through Christ.  “No one can come to the Father but by me.”  Thus all spiritual gravity, including ecumenical gravity is through Christ.  All return, all homecoming, all reconciliation, all mutual understanding, all healing of wounds in the body of Christ, is through the gravity of grace in the body of Christ.  Now this is a largely unconscious and invisible thing, this gravity of grace.  We don’t see it and we don’t even know what is happening when our spirit is drawn, just as we don’t know when our body falls.  It’s not our conscious knowledge that is the prime mover of spiritual events.

When the human race first learned the law of gravity through Newton, it was a scientific and technological revolution.  When we will learn the law of spiritual gravity, when we learn that it is a person and His name is Jesus, there will be a greater revolution.  He promised that revolution.  “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all men to myself.”  “Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”  Those are divine promises.  Why do we limit them to what we have already seen, or to what we can imagine or comprehend?

All God’s deeds transcend our vision, our imagination, and our comprehension.  Christ is the golden key to all of history and therefore, to future ecumenism.  Let us not dare to cut down the full Christ into understandable and predictable pieces.  That’s exactly what all the heresies tried to do.

I think this ecumenical unity must wait until Christ in Protestants and Christ in Catholics see each other.  That is, until they see the same Christ, until you have what you might call “evangelical intimacy.”  And see more Christ in the other.  The same is true of Eastern Orthodox.  They must see the adoration and the beauty of Christ in us or else reunion will be a watering down.  And with the Jews!  The Jews must see us as more Jewish, more faithful, more martyrs, than the Jews.  The same with the Muslims.  They must see their “islam,” their absolute submission to God in us, and their spiritual warfare, their right jihad.  And the Buddhist must see in us a greater peace, a greater mindfulness.  And even the worldings and sex maniacs.  They must see in us the joy that they’re seeking and not finding.

That’s necessary, that’s not an option, not an ideal, it’s necessary because of gravity.  There’s not choice, it’s the nature of things.  Like physical gravity.  It can be impeded, just as gravity can be impeded by a hand catching a falling apple, but only temporarily.  Art can’t change the nature of things, nature always take over eventually.  Grass grows through abandoned buildings, and Christ is more like grass than like buildings.  So let’s not limit His growth.

Those are some bold and speculative thoughts, and I would appreciate your reactions to them in questions.

“Ecumenism Without Compromise” by Peter Kreeft

Ecumenism Without Compromise (part 6)

Recap and Example

Let’s go through the whole thing one more time in a somewhat different way because it’s an apparently an impossible, unbelievable point: this hope for ecumenical reunion without compromise.

Already ecumenism has defined predictions and expectations.  Apparently easy bridges have not been built, for example between Catholics and Orthodox.  While apparently impossible ones have been built, for instance the Catholic-Lutheran agreement on Justification.

In my individual experience I find the same surprising principle to be true.  I often find more mutual understanding between myself and a fundamentalist Southern Baptist who sincerely believes I am worshiping the great whore of Babylon and on my way to Hell, or with a Muslim who uncompromisingly rejects my belief that Christ is Lord as utter pagan blasphemy, than I find with some active Catholic laity, nuns, especially ex-nuns, priests and even bishops!  As fellow Catholics we may agree on more articles of faith than I do with the Protestant or the Muslim, yet I sense we disagree more fundamentally than I do with the Protestant or the Muslim, and not just by personal temperament. Here’s a mystery and when I try to unravel it, here’s what I came up with.

Let’s begin at the beginning with God, and the nature of God, and the will of God.  God is Love and God wills above all for us all to enter into that Love forever: to incorporate us into the very mystery of the life of the Trinity.  Everything that God does, from banging out the big bang, to incarnating His own Son, to arranging for each and every hair that falls from our head, everything He does is done for that end.  Now with this general and very Heavenly principle in mind, let us look at something very earthly and very particular.

Let’s look at the ecumenical situation in a very local time and place.  Latin America today.  Catholics are complaining that Evangelical, Fundamentalist, and Pentecostal sects are stealing sheep.  Protestant sects are growing and Catholic percentages are declining.  Well, instead of complaining, let’s look deeper at the reality.  Why is this happening?  I think the ultimate reason is because God is Love.  Because God wills to draw all men to Himself.  Because of that spiritual gravity, because nature abhors a vacuum, spiritually as well as physically, and because the Catholic Church has been so remiss in giving God’s children the fullness of the spiritual food that God has given the Church to give out, therefore, the children have been going elsewhere to eat it.

And God has allowed this because God is a good father.  And a good father would rather see his children go away from home and live, than stay home and die.  Of course things are not that simple, of course motives for leaving the Church and joining the sects are many and mixed and some are simply bad, but still I think the main force that’s driving these events is in the realm of the spirit is the Spirit.  When these sheep find little or no Christ in the Catholic Church, whoever’s fault that is, and find Christ more really in a sect, more really objectively and not just subjectively, and certainly not just emotionally, then they’re moving closer to and not farther from the fullness of the Catholic faith.  They may have left the Eucharist, the real presence of Christ in the Catholic Church, and that is the fullest presence of Christ in this world, but they did not know the Person who is present there, and whose body they ate with their bodies, but not with their souls.

When these starving sheep leave home to find the manna of Christ in the sects, they are learning the lesson one that should have learned as Catholics but didn’t.  And that lesson one is the only possible foundation for lesson two and three and four.  That is, the fullness of the faith that the Catholic Church has, the building, rests on one foundation.  As Catholics, these people may have gotten the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but they didn’t get the real presence of Christ in their hearts and in their lives.  They got the upper stories of the Catholic skyscrapers, but not the foundation.  Not the faith and the hope and the love relationship with Christ as Lord and Savior.  Therefore, in order to become good Catholics, they must first become good Protestants.

“Ecumenism Without Compromise” by Peter Kreeft

Recap and Example

Let’s go through the whole thing one more time in a somewhat different way because it’s an apparently an impossible, unbelievable point: this hope for ecumenical reunion without compromise.

Already ecumenism has defied predictions and expectations.  Apparently easy bridges have not been built, for example between Catholics and Orthodox.  While apparently impossible ones have been built, for instance the Catholic-Lutheran agreement on Justification.

In my individual experience I find the same surprising principle to be true.  I often find more mutual understanding between myself and a fundamentalist Southern Baptist who sincerely believes I am worshipping the great whore of Babylon and on my way to Hell, or with a Muslim who uncompromisingly rejects my belief that Christ is Lord as utter pagan blasphemy, than I find with some active Catholic laity, nuns, especially ex-nuns, priests and even bishops!  As fellow Catholics we may agree on more articles of faith than I do with the Protestant or the Muslim, yet I sense we disagree more fundamentally than I do with the Protestant or the Muslim, and not just by personal temperament.
Here’s a mystery and when I try to unravel it, here’s what I came up with.

Let’s begin at the beginning with God, and the nature of God, and the will of God.  God is Love and God wills above all for us all to enter into that Love forever: to incorporate us into the very mystery of the life of the Trinity.  Everything that God does, from banging out the big bang, to incarnating His own Son, to arranging for each and every hair that falls from our head, everything He does is done for that end.  Now with this general and very Heavenly principle in mind, let us look at something very earthly and very particular.

Let’s look at the ecumenical situation in a very local time and place.  Latin America today.  Catholics are complaining that Evangelical, Fundamentalist, and Pentecostal sects are stealing sheep.  Protestant sects are growing and Catholic percentages are declining.  Well, instead of complaining, let’s look deeper at the reality.  Why is this happening?  I think the ultimate reason is because God is Love.  Because God wills to draw all men to Himself.  Because of that spiritual gravity, because nature abhors a vacuum, spiritually as well as physically, and because the Catholic Church has been so remiss in giving God’s children the fullness of the spiritual food that God has given the Church to give out, therefore, the children have been going elsewhere to eat it.

And God has allowed this because God is a good father.  And a good father would rather see his children go away from home and live, than stay home and die.  Of course things are not that simple, of course motives for leaving the Church and joining the sects are many and mixed and some are simply bad, but still I think the main force that’s driving these events is in the realm of the spirit is the Spirit.  When these sheep find little or no Christ in the Catholic Church, whoever’s fault that is, and find Christ more really in a sect, more really objectively and not just subjectively, and certainly not just emotionally, then they’re moving closer to and not farther from the fullness of the Catholic faith.  They may have left the Eucharist, the real presence of Christ in the Catholic Church, and that is the fullest presence of Christ in this world, but they did not know the Person who is present there, and whose body they ate with their bodies, but not with their souls.

When these starving sheep leave home to find the manna of Christ in the sects, they are learning the lesson one that should have learned as Catholics but didn’t.  And that lesson one is the only possible foundation for lesson two and three and four.  That is, the fullness of the faith that the Catholic Church has, the building, rests on one foundation.  As Catholics, these people may have gotten the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but they didn’t get the real presence of Christ in their hearts and in their lives.  They got the upper stories of the Catholic skyscrapers, but not the foundation.  Not the faith and the hope and the love relationship with Christ as Lord and Savior.  Therefore, in order to become good Catholics, they must first become good Protestants.