Recently Pope Francis set off a flurry of media commentary with his pre-Christmas "challenge" or "Examination of Conscience" for members of the Curia. I read through his 15 points and thought that this was a good examination for almost anyone. In fact, I noted a number of things that I myself need to work on. [I am not mentioning them here!] I was confirmed in my belief when our Provincial Superior in his weekly email update confessed that he too need to work on a number of the items listed by Pope Francis—and encouraged all member of our Province to do the same!
January 18-25 is the celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This week, just slightly more than 50 years after the promulgation of the Decree on Ecumenism of the Second Vatican Council, is a good time for a little personal examination.
The section on "Renewal and conversion" of Saint John Paul II's encyclical on ecumenism Ut Unum Sint deals with conversion [# 15-17]. Those section in my copy are all marked up and falling apart. I think conversion is central to the spiritual maturity that is necessary for Christian Unity.
Here are two of my favorite passages:
- …there is an increased sense of the need for repentance: an awareness of certain exclusions which seriously harm fraternal charity, of certain refusals to forgive, of a certain pride, of an unevangelical insistence of condemning the "other side," of a disdain born of an unhealthy presumption. Thus, the entire life of Christians is marked by a concern for ecumenism….
- Each one therefore ought to be more radically converted to the Gospel and, without ever losing sight of God’s plan, change his or her way of looking at things [#15].
One of my New Year's resolutions is to leave room for the Holy Spirit, to try not to have things all planned out the way I think they should go. Now I have told one thing I need to work on!
To take the next steps toward Christian Unity we will all need "to go deeper" in our relationship with Christ.
Father John Crossin, OSFS, is executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.