Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thomas Merton on healing the Great Schism

Folks, in light of the news regarding the recent agreement reached in ecumenical talks held at Ravenna about the "fact" of the Roman Primacy—if not the extent and depth of its authority—I wish to share with you this quote Thomas Merton made in his journal on April 28, 1957:
I can unite in myself, in my own spiritual life, the thought of the East and the West, of the Greek and Latin Fathers, I will create in myself a reunion of the divided Church and from that unity in myself can come the exterior and visible unity of the Church. For if we want to bring together East and West we cannot do it by imposing one upon the other. We must contain both in ourselves, and transcend both in Christ.
Merton's words have long provided me with a program for life regarding the divide between Eastern and Western Christianity. Though this agreement as well as any other agreement about anything between Eastern Orthodoxy and Western Catholicism, is something objectively good, we must recognize that actual Eucharistic sharing is still years away.

In the meantime, as individuals, we can unite East and West within ourselves, as Merton said. The schism has to heal within us before it is healed outside of us; the Spirit needs to fuse together within ourselves the fractured parts before He moves on to heal the Church of this Original Sin of all Schisms. Let us pray, then, for that intention and for the acquisition of a just sense of proportion regarding the worthy task of healing the East-West Schism.