We found Holy Cross Parish in Overland Park, and enjoyed the final Mass of a visiting priest from Colombia. Muchas Gracias, Padre! Buena suerte en Colombia.
On our way to Holy Cross, we passed large Lutheran and Presbyterian churches. Our daughter asked why we couldn't just go there.
"Because we want to receive the Holy Eucharist," I said. "We need the priest."
"Ah." She said. That was explanation enough for her. She understands the importance of receiving Our Lord. Immediately, she was onto another subject. "Hey, my jibbitz are falling apart on my Crocs." I looked at her pink Crocs. Indeed, Nemo's tail was cracked and hanging by a smidgen of plastic.
I turned my attention back to the Mapquest directions, and realized that I was feeling a little sad. I did what I always do. I offered it up to the cross in reparation for the lack of unity in the Christian faith. I always think of my dad when I pass a Presbyterian church. If you read my blog, you know that my father was a Presbyterian minister. We never realized that we were contributing to disunity in the Body of Christ. We always thought that church choice was a matter of personal preference.
Some like things casual. Some like things old fashioned. Some like contemporary music. Some like the denomination they grew up in. The reasons were as varied as a patron at a Baskin Robbins ice cream parlor.
The sadness I feel when I pass another church on my way to Mass comes from my reading of John 17.
This is not what Our Lord had in mind when He prayed that we would be one. We can delude ourselves into thinking that it is a matter of choice, but it isn't. Jesus meant for us to be as united in our faith as He is with the Father. There is no shadow of division or difference between the Father and the Son.
And so, we pass Lutheran churches, and we are reminded of the division that goes all the way back to Luther.
We pass Presbyterian churches, and we are reminded of the division that goes back to the Church of Scotland.
We pass Episcopalian churches, and we are reminded of the division that goes back to King Henry VIII and the Church of England.
We pass any faith community, besides Mother Church, and we are reminded of division.
Unity exists where we encounter the priest who, through the laying on of apostolic hands, has the authority to pray the Mass.
A priest from Colombia. A priest from St. Louis. A priest from your home town.
Muchas gracias, Padre! Blessed Year for Priests! You fulfill John 17 every time you enter into the Mass and invite us to come with you.