What happened over this 12 weeks of vacation was nothing short of a miracle. Four women (for lack of a better name, one member called this group “3 Catholics and a Protestant”) decided to attempt to better understand an issue that often comes up in our 11th grade classes. This class learns about the Reformation and discussions about Martin Luther and Calvin often turn toward election and free will. This CAN be a divisive issue, especially upon hearing this terminology for the first time. However, these women pursued this topic with a zeal to be better informed so as to better guide our students when they have these discussions. Books were chosen (no pun intended!): Chosen by God, Sproul and Predestination by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange. Reading them side by side, we took a look at both sides of the ‘isle.’ What did the Catholic church say about this and what did one arm (Presbyterian) of the protestant church say about this issue?
At the onset, I’m not sure what we thought would happen. Perhaps we expected there to be some heated discussions like we had seen from our students. But, instead, from the get-go, we made an effort to listen, to learn and to speak carefully. We found many points of commonality and agreement. We also found things that we didn’t agree on, but instead of arguing a point, there was an effort to learn more. We sought out more articles, more information, help from priests and pastors. And let me emphasize here…we didn’t seek this information so that we could make OUR POINT! No, we sought it out, so that we could (1) better understand our own faith and traditions, and (2) better explain it to our sisters on the ‘other’ side of the isle.
All of us would agree that we grew SO MUCH in this endeavor. We grew in our own understanding of God. We grew in our understanding of our traditions. We grew in our understanding of theology, doctrine and sacraments. Did any of us jump to the other side of the isle? No. But that wasn’t the purpose of the group OR of our ecumenical co-op at Christiana. Folks have been nervous to come to CHA over the years, worrying about whether protestants would try to convert Catholics to protestant thinking or whether Catholics would try to convert protestants to Catholic thinking. We did grow in a deeper understanding of our Heavenly Father, of his great love for us in sending his son, of worship and that we are sisters in Christ who will someday worship TOGETHER at the throne of God. And this experience made us want to see more of this ‘coming together’ at CHA as we teach, tutor, pray and work together.
So, CHA families…let’s practice what we preach. We are an ecumenical movement, seeking to bring Catholics and Protestants together. Let’s tackle tough issues together, let’s talk together, but let’s also listen and pray together. When we are stumped, then let’s do what we tell our kids to do…research and read for understanding. Great dialogue began this summer between 3 Catholics and a Protestant. We didn’t change the world, but these four ladies are forever changed!