Monday, January 16, 2012

O Great God Give Us Rest!

In order to understand what follows, it would be best to watch the video at the link below:

Ecumenism. In case you haven't been on iTunes in the last week, you might be surprised to hear that the David Crowder* Band has released their final album, a Requiem Mass (co-authored by our boy Matt Maher). That album jumped to the top of the charts (not the Christian charts, THE charts) the day it came out. It has remained in the top 5 ever since. David Crowder is a southern baptist, a representative of Baylor University and a well versed theologian, outside of being an evagelical worship leader. Two decades ago (not to mention two centuries ago), a man from the Calvinist tradition who wrote a Mass "centered on the beauty of the Eucharist" would be kicked out of his denomination, much as the Eucharist itself was physically kicked to the curb by the first protesting iconoclasts. Now, just as it is most decidedly NOT my intention to speculate on whether or not Mr. Crowder is moving toward Rome, I also have no intention of opening up old wounds. The atorocities of the 30 year's war, the scandal of Henry VIII and the happenings of the Huguenots belong to another age, when the West was all Christian and the differences between Catholics and Protestants resulted in some of the gravest sins in history. As both protestants and Pope have admited, there was guilt on both sides. However, when I read the history of that hideous period, what disturbs me the most is the sacrelige commited by fellow Christians against the Body of Christ. We burned each other, members of that Body, at the stake and poured the Sacred Host and Precious Wine out upon the pavement. The horror of our actions should silence any finger pointing, especially now that we are centuries out from the scandal.

Now, look where we are. Maybe it is the openess of our society. Maybe the providence of time has helped heal all wounds. Maybe it is the fact that we Christians have been forced to cooperate in a strange new era, no longer having the luxury to carry out our family fued across Christendom. What was Christendom, what was our family home, has become a secularist, consumeristic, materialistic, hedonistic parody of all we hold dear. Now, more than ever, Christians must turn to truth where ever it is found. David Crowder, definitely son of these times, has discovered that Truth can be found in the Eucharist. And he has not refrained from giving glory where glory is due. At the behest of Bl John Paul II, many Catholics have found ways to praise the Lord through song styles that our fathers would call too worldly or worthless. And we have not refrained from using them to give God the glory. Now, five centuries out from our great split, Catholics and Protestants are once more praising the Sacred Host together.

This fact does not represent the end of anything, except perhaps the end of the beginning, (to borrow a phrase from Churchill). Can we dare to look forward to a future where we will no longer debate about the Blessed Sacrament, but can commit ourselves to adoring it together? I certainly hope so. But I am ambitious and hope for more than that. I hope that we have come to a point where sacred silence before that Saving Victim can truly begin to heal our divisions. Singing is a great place to begin ecumenism, but the sacraments are the only place that it can end. I am barely a theologian. I am nothing close to a minister. However, I am a child of the Church, and I must say that, though I cannot pretend to know where all this is going, I am content to kneel at the altar with Mr. Crowder. Or Mr. Tony Blair. Or whatever other leaders decided to come around to the Eucharist. Our sad division began at the foot of the altar: let us hope that it's ending may begin there as well.

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