Christian Unity – Vine and branch

+JMJ+ Welcome to Day 2 of a special series of posts for the Octave of Christian Unity.  I’m using one of my favorite meditation starters, In Conversation with God (ICWG hereafter), a seven-volume set published by Scepter, written by Fr. Francis Fernandez Carvajal. I’ve used it for years and it never gets old. As always, you’ll find notes and links at the end of this post.

The first image Fr. Carvajal mentions in this day’s meditation is the image of the Vine and the branches. He says that there was a sculpture of an immense golden vine in the vestibule of the Temple. So Jesus here is using an image familiar to His disciples. If the branches remain on the vine, they thrive. But if they are removed, they dry up and wither. (ICWG, vol. 6, p. 27.)

Then comes the familiar line:

“Apart from Me, you can do nothing.”

John 15:6

Union with Christ is the foundation for unity among the faithful. We are all bound together and strengthened in the Mystical Body of Christ…Faith in Jesus Christ should move us to act with brotherly love like the first Christians who were of one heart and soul.” (ICWG, v 6, 28. Emphasis mine.)

(There is no other foundation for unity. Union with Christ is THE foundation for unity among the faithful. Seems to me, this is why you see those without this unity so often tearing each other and themselves apart. There is love and unity, and there is, well, something else, and it ain’t love and it doesn’t produce unity.)

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Acts 2:42

We see there in Acts that already there is a Liturgy of the Word and a Liturgy of the Eucharist. I did not see that before I began to study Catholicism. I’d never even heard of the word “liturgy” until then. I did not see that the Bible and the Liturgy go hand in hand. To me the Bible was something I held in my hand and read alone or sometimes in a group. But in the Church the Bible has always been part of worship. Not worshipped, but part of worship. The Bible contains the texts that are read, are shared in the Liturgy, in the Mass. The Bible is also the record of our family history. (I’m doing a series about that on Thursdays.)

I’m not saying that Bible is only for the Liturgy, but it is primarily for that. But of course it is also for us to read and study and pray with. Soaking in the Word is one of my greatest pleasures in the world. Even if sometimes, well, often it makes me downright uncomfortable. I can always find something to humble me in the Bible. 

Fr. Carvajal goes on to talk about the way people treat each other, especially the way the faithful treat each other. Before we can do much to promote unity with other Christians or anyone else, we have to have unity in the Church, unity among ourselves. (Ibid., 29.)

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:35

“Fraternal charity acts like a cement that holds the living stones of the Church together, to use an expression of St Augustine.” (Commentary on Psalm 44)

The time of Roman persecution brought the faithful closer together and the “term brother acquired a deep meaning.” 

“If we ought to love those who are not fully incorporated into the Church, how much more charity should we exercise towards our brothers and sisters in the Faith?”

ICWG, v 6, 30.

His words about how to handle criticism and correction of others is something we should all read several times a day. 

“If we should ever happen to come across a Church leader who gives bad example, we should make an effort to pray for that individual and, if appropriate, give fraternal correction in a delicate and respectful manner. We should ask Our Lady to help us in this struggle.”

Ibid., 30.

Thank you for visiting and reading. I hope you’ll join me again. Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well, virtuous and holy. May the Lord bless and keep you and yours, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+

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Notes and Links

  • In Conversation with God, by Fr. Francis Fernandez Carvajal. 7 volumes, vinyl cover with dust jacket, in a boxed set. So excellent, I’ve used these since my early days of conversion, so since the mid-nineties, though I collected them one at a time.  (Amazon affiliate link. See Full Disclosure below.)
  • ICWT is not to be confused with that other set of books, Conversations with God, a set of New Age books. I always need to point this out because there’s always someone who gives me the side-eye when I mention ICWG. I am not a New Ager anymore and I never read those CWG books when I was. 
  • I’m mentioning Christian Unity especialy this week in the Live Rosary Threads: Follow me @disciple96 on Twitter at 7pm Central, Tuesdays and Fridays. See the Rosary Project Live Archives to see what the threads are like.

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