Christian unity at its core is not an attempt to put all Christian faiths in a blender and hit “mix”. It is a movement to accept Christ’s call that we all may be one (John 17:21), and recognize, as Jesus said to his followers, that people who believe in Him and spread His Good News may not join us at our church, but they are not separate from us.-Deacon Mike Curren
Deacon Mike Curren is the featured blogger on UniteBoston this week. Deacon Mike was ordained in 2014 and serves at St. Augustine Parish in Andover. He holds an MA in Theology and Ministry, and an MS in Business Administration. He also loves music, cooking and hiking. Christian unity is meant to be a way of life rather than a program, and Deacon Mike offers some practical ways that he is living out Jesus’ desire for unity in his home and family.
Easter is always a busy and exciting time for Christians. In our house, that gets multiplied times 3. This year my family came to my church Easter Sunday morning where I preached at the 11:30 Mass. The night before Easter Sunday, we attended a chorale celebration at my daughter’s protestant church. And this past weekend we all celebrated my son’s Pascha celebration at the parish where he is pastor, a Greek Orthodox church in New Hampshire. “Christos Anesti”!
For the last 10 years we have lived as a family across and within multiple Christian traditions. Yet, each person’s commitment to their own tradition is rock-solid. Some have wondered aloud whether that leads to heated debates, or worse. It certainly has led to interesting theological discussions, but never any hostility. I am proud of my children who have all found (or re-discovered) their love for Jesus Christ, and they have been 100% supportive of my work as a deacon in the Catholic Church. We attend each other’s ceremonies whenever we can. We sometimes will throw out a joke about our differences, but it is all good-natured. We joke that between my son and I, our grace before meals takes 45 minutes!
When I counsel parents around the fact that their children have left the faith that they grew up in, I suggest that they never give up hope, and most especially never give up praying. Christ makes all things new (Rev 21:5), sometimes in ways we can’t anticipate nor imagine. Many parents are less comfortable with attending other’s faith communities for services. They worry that they are being disloyal. But it’s something I think everyone should get more comfortable with. We may be counseled by our church to not “fully participate” in other’s liturgies, but that does not keep us from prayerfully joining in a universal call to holiness- together. Christian unity at its core is not an attempt to put all Christian faiths in a blender and hit “mix”. It is, I believe, a movement to accept Christ’s call that we all may be one (John 17:21), and recognize, as Jesus said to his followers, that people who believe in Him and spread His Good News may not join us at our church, but they are not separate from us (Luke 9).
49 “Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”50 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”
In the Catholic tradition, our Vatican II documents call us to respect peoples of all world faiths and acknowledge the rays of truth in them. This was not always the posture of the Catholic Church, and I am glad we have, as my kids would say, “morphed” in that regard. We also participate in ecumenical and inter-religious events that are not meant so much to evangelize, as to express our solidarity in Christ – to acknowledge and celebrate our differences, not just what we share in common. I believe that there is something beyond the “Red Sox vs Yankees” approach to inter-faith dialogue.
In the words of those “early bluegrass fathers”, the Stanley Brothers:
“You go to your church and I’ll go to mine, but let’s walk along together. Our fathers built them side by side. So, let’s walk along together. The road is rough, and the way is long, but we’ll help each other over. You go to your church, and I’ll go to mine, but let’s walk along together!”
Deacon Mike Curren is an ordained minister of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, assigned to St. Augustine Parish in Andover, as well as to the RCAB Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.