The Conversion of Saint Paul, Peter Paul Rubens, London, England
Today, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, we conclude the annual Week of Prayer for Church Unity.
The future of ecumenism – our quest for the full unity of the churches – is the future of our conversion as churches.
Let’s start with ecclesial humility.
I love the traditions of my church. I love its treasures of liturgy, music, spirituality, religious life, theological inquiry, and magisterial teaching authority.
But there will be no unity of the churches if there is not an ever-deeper conversion of all of us so that we love our churches with ever-greater humility, we are ever more honest about our weaknesses, and we are ever more grateful for the riches other traditions offer us.
In the tragedy-filled (and grace-filled) Reformation era, there were robust arguments about the “marks” of the “true church.” Surprise, surprise, everyone’s proposed list of such marks pretty much overlapped with the characteristics of their own church tradition.
Perhaps we should say that one of the marks of the true church is that it does not claim to be the true church.
Saint Paul, pray for us.