Let Them Be One | Dominican University College

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Let Them Be One

Friday, April 10, 2015


"The One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church . . ."


O.K. I buy it. And all that goes with it.  But I don’t really know what that means. And it’s always a bit of a challenge for anyone who tries to explain it. As Catholics, we sometimes like to think we’ve got a handle on truth. That we’ve got it nailed down, figured out, under our thumb.

The thing about the Church is that it is big.


And old.


It’s been around the block. It’s seen all types and stripes. It’s been through times of exile and prosperity, through crusades and wars, through periods of mass stability and power, through intense poverty and incredible wealth. Always changing, always the same, a paradoxical organization in spirit . . . and truth. It’s history is one of extremes. So is its theology.

The golden mean, the sacred middle ground, is what has kept it afloat. It is continually redefining its center.


The mean between:


Grace and Truth.


The Soul and the Body.


Right and Leftist politics.


Practical and speculative theology.


Orthodox and progressive takes on religion.


Heaven and Earth.


We’re happiest, says Aristotle, when we live life “in the middle”.



Every virtue has two opposing vices, with the sweet spot wedged in the middle. Courageousness is shy of being foolhardy but more than being cowardly. Chastity lies between lust and prudishness.

We’re most truthful, when we approach truth, from “the middle” too. “Dialectic” is a fancy philosophical word that means a coming together of opposites, which when held together, makes a third, more complex truth (the links to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are made overtly). This helps us understand the Truth of the Church. It’s a coming together of different points of view, of seemingly opposite ways of going about believing, all under one roof.

Thanks be to Jesus that the Catholic Church is bigger than any single group. Those focused on social justice and the evangelists, the intellectuals and the servants of the poor, the Latin rite crowd alongside the charismatics . . . the 'oneness' is not self-evident.

The Church is especially bigger than any one person. It doesn’t get particularly worked-up about all of our personal idiosyncrasies. Jesus came to trash the “Sacred Cows” we hold dear. His church will outlive and outlast all of its parts.



When Jesus prayed: “Father, let them be one, as you are in me and I am in you” I think it was a dialectical “one” he had in mind. Most heresy is a holding onto the extreme position of any one argument while excluding the possibility that the opposite argument is also true at the same time under different respects. Christ is both God and man. Born without sin, but who took on all sin. Of a virgin, who remains a virgin, while giving birth. We are sinners, who are at the same time “little less than gods”. The story is true not because it’s consistent but because it is extremely inconsistent.

And so is the world.

And so are we.

And that’s ok.

This is the beauty, complexity, and oneness of the Catholic Church. It is a oneness of a whole that is greater than any of its individual parts.


What would such a “oneness” open up for us?


A Church with:


Less bickering . . . more praying.


Less clamoring to be heard . . . more respectful dialogue.


A Better Being Together . . . we can hope for these things.


From there, we can indeed perhaps be one.