Communion in Diversity

Communion in Diversity

Communion in diversity, legitimate diversity, is the phrase Pope Francis used in the Joint Declaration created by Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras at their joint meeting in Jerusalem last week, to describe the “unity to which only the Holy Spirit can lead us, that of communion in legitimate diversity,” reminiscent of John’s Gospel:

That they may all be one;

As you, Father , are in me, and I in you,

That they also may be one in us

Had we been home, where daily Mass is a three hour endeavor, I’d not have noticed this rather extraordinarily clever phrase which begs for thoughtful reflection; but here, near San Luis Obispo, where there are three Catholic churches and a Benedictine Monastery within a 20 minute drive, I heard the priest use it yesterday at the daily Mass of the Benedictine Monastery. There are several reasons these words of Pope Francis are so salient and ring so loudly in my mind and heart:

  • We attended  a Greek Orthodox Sunday Mass by mistake on the Feast of Christ the King a couple of Sundays ago and then a few days later attended a daily Mass at the Catholic Byzantine Church, our original destination.
  • We’re not home: Advent seems to fit the dual place of being at home but not really home.
  • The attributes of Advent: patience, thoughtful reflection, expectancy and being awake are qualities, probably virtues, that need strengthening in me.

Despite the fact that the Garmin was set to the correct address for St. Anne’s Byzantine Catholic Church in San Luis Obispo, it could not distinguish St. Andrew’s Byzantine Church from St Anne’s since the two churches sit side by side. Exiting the car, we met some people heading in and asked if this was the Byzantine Church, received an affirmative and very welcoming reply and walked into what we figured out was a Greek Orthodox Church, therefore not in communion with the Roman Catholic rites.

The church, the icons and the chants were some of the most beautiful we had ever witnessed; their practice of saying the “Our Father” in multiple languages; Greek, Serbian, Croation, and Russian are only a few that I can recall, brought back memories of Medjugorje stopping at each Station of the Cross on Cross Hill, each station said in one of the 8 languages represented in our group.

A few days later, when we attended the ‘approved’ liturgy of the Catholic Byzantine rite, the similarities between the two astonished me. Such a unique perspective I had, one where I could focus only on the similarities, since I knew too few of the details which would reveal the differences between the two Byzantine liturgies, revealed clearly, for just a moment, the source of the endless squabbling about differences that are fundamentally trivial.

Christmas will be very different this year; we’ll not be home, as we are trying out life here on the central coast of California, therefore I’m not sending out Christmas cards and won’t be home to receive those you send, if you do send them. But that in no way diminishes my thoughts and prayers for each of you, regardless of whether we know one another only on-line or for most of our lifetimes.

Being here, in the RV seems to demand a more relaxed countenance than does being at home. Despite the facts that John and are still working our portable business lives while away, our work has developed a different pace; daily Mass has once again become a routine, one which does not require entire mornings and we seem to be just as productive at our work but are working fewer hours, taking time to see plays and go to movies, things that we simply don’t take the time to do when at home.

 I began to formulate this post over a week ago when we were approaching Advent because ever since I learned about Advent, I have loved this season and the woman standing at the center of it: Mary, who waits with expectation, filled with a physical and spiritual Wisdom that defies all words, all languages, her silence filling this noisy and fearful world.

There is a longing in our hearts, O Lord,
for you to reveal yourself to us.
There is a longing in our hearts
for love we only find in you, our God.

1. For justice, for freedom,
for mercy: hear our prayer.
In sorrow, in grief:
be near, hear our prayer, O God.

2. For wisdom, for courage,
for comfort: hear our prayer.
In weakness, in fear:
be near, hear our prayer, O God.

3. For healing, for wholeness,
for new life: hear our prayer.
In sickness, in death:
be near, hear our prayer, O God.

4. Lord save us, take pity,
light in our darkness.
We call you, we wait:
be near, hear our prayer, O God.

2 Comments

  1. Sister Charlotte says:

    Lin,
    I love your blog and read it whenever you p0st. Have a Blessed and Holy Advent and Christmas. Your gift is the beautiful way you share your heart and thoughts.
    S. Charlotte

    • admin says:

      What a lovely surprise to read your words this morning! Thank you for taking the time to write such kind words- I am excited today as I am spending the day with a couple of Benedictine monks who are doing a day on Teilhard de Chardin whom I ‘met’ as a kid undergraduate English major many many years ago- you’ll hear about the day later.
      You too have a grace filled Advent.
      Love and prayers to you,
      Lin

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