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Mother and Child
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Heart to Heart
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As the 14th day of Lent draws to a close, Nelson shares these thoughts from the letter of Patriarch Gregorios III of Antioch (Melkite) for Lent that I’m passing on:
“Indeed, if the cross, with all that it represents, with all that it signifies, symbolises and indicates, of sufferings, sicknesses, disasters, various afflictions, catastrophes, pains and injuries to which all people are subject, if the cross is a constituent reality of all human life, there is an obligation for all people, like Jesus, to carry the cross together, in order to disburden the one charged with it and together to bear it with love and solidarity. In this letter, I am urging my faithful sons and daughters of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in the Arab world and throughout the world to be in solidarity with each other and stand shoulder to shoulder with their brethren, friends, neighbours and fellow-citizens to bear the cross together on the way of the cross, especially during these days of Great Lent on our common spiritual Lenten way towards the Feast and the joy of the glorious Resurrection.”
I pray that all Christians may be one and bear faithful witness to the One who is all in all.
Some thoughts apart from the daily news:
Bishops of the Church: focusing on their duty to lead the People of God.
A bishop is not just one voice among many, or even one important voice among others. In his diocese, he is the unique leader of the Faithful. For Christians, the bishop’s voice speaks with clarity for Christ. It is important to note that even a body of bishops serving the church such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) do not speak with the authority of the Bishop of the Diocese.
These are days of darkness and times of confusion. In our loud and intrusive culture, we listen to more voices than we can stand. Exhortations like “listen to your bishop” have long since faded in the background of our day to day struggle. For this reason, we need the Church more than ever. We need the Church to speak over and above the world. This is a time of vigilance and a time to choose sides. Our fallen natures find it hard to submit to valid authority, but now is not the time for self-serving arrogance or pettiness. We need our bishops and we need our bishops to speak and speak clearly.
The Fathers of the Church write:
St. Ignatius of Antioch to the Magnesians:
Let nothing exist among you that may divide you ; but be ye united with your bishop, and those that preside over you, as a type and evidence of your immortality.
As therefore the Lord did nothing without the Father, being united to Him, neither by Himself nor by the apostles, so neither do ye anything without the bishop and presbyters. Neither endeavor that anything appear reasonable and proper to yourselves apart; but being come together into the same place, let there be one prayer, one supplication, one mind, one hope, in love and in joy undefiled. There is one Jesus Christ, than whom nothing is more excellent. Do ye therefore all run together as into one temple of God, as to one altar, as to one Jesus Christ, who came forth from one Father, and is with and has gone to one.
Ignatius of Antioch to the Smyrnaeans:
It is reasonable for the future to be vigilant, and while we have yet time, to repent unto God. It is well to honor God and the bishop; he who honors the bishop, is honored of God; he who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop, serves the devil.
These days are so troubling and leadership so wanting that I make so bold as to suggest that those of other Christian persuasions would do well in days yet to come to give Peter, the Bishop of Rome, an ear. Beyond our failures, beyond our broken unity, beyond prejudice is Christ breathing His Spirit upon His Apostles, upon His Church, upon His Body.