Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Giving Everything to God: Ecumenical Reflections

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

We are entering a new phase of the ecumenical journey. Pope Francis visited with the Russian Patriarch Kirill in Cuba and will commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation with the Lutheran World Federation in Lund, Sweden. A new vision of ecumenism is emerging rooted in the Gospel.

“Again and again we can and must allow ourselves to be surprised by God and his Spirit,” reflected Cardinal Walter Kasper at Georgetown University last May. As Saint John Paul II emphasized in his 1995 encyclical Ut Unum Sint, spiritual ecumenism with its emphasis on ongoing conversion is at the heart of the ecumenical journey.

Many years ago, on a sunny spring day at our (even then) old novitiate house, I realized that the spiritual journey was about giving everything to God—even every thought. I must confess that this was somewhat consoling and somewhat frightening. The direction was clear; the path was and still is intimidating.

Years later I would tell people that I gave 90% to God and kept 10% for Crossin. People would laugh in recognition. Often Crossin’s percentage was higher and God’s lower! I tend to focus too much on myself and not enough on others.

Decades later, returning to the teaching of St. Francis de Sales that sparked my initial realization, I began to see that spiritual growth has to do with balance. It has to do with loving good things in the right proportion. Material goods don’t usually come first though they are important. Paying attention to Christ in the present moment in the people I meet and what they say/do is more important.

I have met people who radiate Christ’s presence. When I am with them I share their peace. I hope someday to bring that balance to the ecumenical journey.


Father John Crossin, OSFS is executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He tweets @crossinusccb.​

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