Church Unity Octave - January 18-25

01-23-2022Weekly Reflection

What is CUO? On October 3, 1899, the Rev. Lewis Thomas Wattson, an Episcopal clergyman later known as the Very Rev. Paul James Francis, S.A., arrived at Graymoor, N.Y. to establish a community of Episcopal Franciscans called the Friars of the Atonement. Father Paul grieved most because Christians seemed divided into warring sects and factions. He began to preach corporate reunion of the Episcopal Church with the Catholic Church. Because of this he was banned from the pulpits of the Episcopal churches. Father Paul went into the streets with his message. Father Paul was determined to carry on his work for the return of all separated Christians to communion with the Holy See.

To further this aim, he inaugurated in 1908 the Chair of Unity Octave (Jan. 18-25). One year later, the members of the Society themselves received the grace of conversion, and on October 30, 1909, they entered the Catholic Church in a body. The Chair of Unity Octave was also approved as a Catholic devotion by Pope Benedict XV in an Apostolic Brief in 1916. In 1921, at their annual meeting in Washington, the Catholic hierarchy of the United States unanimously adopted the Octave for all the dioceses in the country.

There is a duty to preach the Gospel: In a document dated Oct.6, 2007 approved by Pope Benedict XVI the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reminded the Church about the obligation to evangelize others. They pointed it is a person’s right to hear the Gospel. This mandate comes from the Lord to preach the Gospel to all the nations and baptize. Mk 16:15-16 The reason for this document is the notion that any attempt to convince other of the truth of the Catholic Faith is a violation of their freedom. You should just simply present your ideas and then people should act according to their own consciences without aiming their conversion to Christ and the Catholic Faith. The pop version of this is it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. It’s the same God for everyone.

It does matter what you believe and it’s not simply a matter of opinion safely walled up in individual heads. The statements: Jesus Christ is God and Jesus Christ is not God cannot both be true. It makes a profound difference which statement is true. The Church rejects the notion that all religions are equal and it doesn’t matter what you believe as a false teaching called indifferentism. It matters because truth matters. Although non-Christians can be saved through the grace which God bestows on them in ways known to Him which give them a saving relationship with Christ’s Church, such persons are lacking a tremendous benefit in this world to know the true face of God, the friendship of Christ, and to hear His word and be helped by the sacraments. Plus we cannot presume this salvation. No peoples are excluded from the Church’s missionary mandate. It is the Lord’s will that we all be one even as the Father and the Son are one.

Another “pop notion” is that everyone is going to heaven and that hell does not exist. When asked about the number of people who will be saved, the Lord did not answer directly. He said "Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it." The Lord noted that only with difficulty will the just person be saved. The writer Flannery O’Connor noted: “The Catholic Church is composed of those who accept what she teaches, whether they are good or bad, and there is constant struggle through the help of the sacraments to be good.”

The Lord also teaches that it is possible for a human being to use his/her freedom to exclude God as their final choice. This definitive exclusion from heaven through unrepented mortal sin is called Hell. The individual is left with the choice of whatever love they preferred to God. This love will be their punishment because it can never satisfy. St. Augustine reminds us: You have made us for Yourself O Lord and we are restless until we rest in you. Put another way the poet Francis Thompson wrote the words of the faithful God who pursued him: All things betrayest thee which betrayest me. Let us stand for the Catholic Faith, preach the Catholic Faith, and seek to bring others into the Catholic Faith.