Growing up as a Protestant, I got it in my head that unity in Christianity would come about if people stopped caring about the specifics of the faith. For some reason, when I would read Christ’s high priestly prayer (Jn 17), the prayer he prayed for unity before his passion and death, the prayer “that they may be one, as I am one” (check scripture reference), I thought to myself, if only those Catholics would stop being such sticklers on things that don’t matter, on things we cannot possibly know, maybe Christians could actually be one. It was so frustrating to me that Christians were divided. I thought I knew all there was to know about Catholics—that they were not true Christians. I know now that what I believed was out of ignorance. I really had no idea what true Catholicism was, and I had no idea they had the apostolic faith, the faith of the apostles, which I so deeply cared about and truly desired (and admittedly felt a lack of in my evangelical faith).
Praise be to God, He slowly revealed to me my ignorance on many things, and opened my eyes to truth. For a long time, I still believed Catholics had it all wrong, but when I noticed people who were genuinely searching for truth becoming Catholic, or the peace and love of many who already were Catholic, I started changing my tune. Maybe they do understand something. I had questions, and when questions continued to come, I eventually had to give in and investigate some more. Truth is like this. Truth comes to us and knocks on our door, but we must be willing to open the door and welcome truth into our lives. We will find it if we search for it. But we must be willing to search, even when the searching is uncomfortable and when answers lie in places we said they never could be. If God brings you to seek, look. Please, do not close your eyes in fear. To willfully remain ignorant is to block out the truth in which Christ meant for us to abide. And if we are to abide in Truth, and Christ in Truth, we must seek Truth—the whole of it.
I have always loved to ponder how the Church is the Body of Christ, but something I never thought about until recently is how our sin, our lack of love, adds to Jesus’ sufferings. This includes the division among us and our lack of care to really seek truth. As long as we are divided, as long as people do not seek unity and continue to close their eyes to truth because it may lie in that taboo place where it was said truth never could be, Jesus’ wounds lay open, bloody, and unattended.
One conception people have of Christian unity is that people forget the specifics of faith and come together on the “essentials.” But is this true unity? Is this what Jesus envisioned when He prayed we may be one, as He and the Father are one (Jn 17:22), when He prayed, “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one [emphasis added]” (Jn 17:23)? I don’t think so. And honestly, how does anyone actually decide on the essentials? You can’t. Those who believe the Lord’s Supper is just a memorial, a remembering of Jesus’ passion and death, say what one believes about the Lord’s Supper is not essential. But for those who believe the bread and the wine really do become the Body and Blood of the Son given for us, of course this is essential. To say it is not is to betray Our Lord. Either it is or is not Jesus’ Body and Blood, and that matters.
St. Maximilian Kolbe wrote the following on Truth in one of the last pieces he wrote before he was taken away to Auschwitz, and it was possibly the cause for his arrest by the Nazis:
And so, if it is true that God exists, disbelievers who say that He does not are in error; on the other hand, if He did not exist, all those who profess any religion would be in error. Also if it is true that Jesus Christ is risen, then what He taught is true and it is true that He is God incarnate; yet if He had not risen, all Christian denominations would have no reason to exist.
Finally, if Jesus really turned to Peter with the words, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church” [Mt. 16:18], and thus gave a sign on the basis of which everyone has the opportunity to easily recognize His Church in the midst of hundreds of different Christian churches, then only those who are in the universal, Catholic Church walk along the true path. And if they move toward God faithfully, following the teachings of the Church, they have the assurance of achieving eternal happiness and peace and joy even on this earth…
Acknowledging truth. No one can change any truth. One can only seek the truth, find it, acknowledge it, conform one’s life to it, walk on the path of truth in each matter, especially those concerning the ultimate purpose of life, one’s relationship with God, that is, the questions of religion. (KW 1246)
If you say the Catholic Church is wrong, find out why you believe it is wrong. See if your assumptions are actually true about the teachings of the Catholic Church. Get to know it as well as you know your own faith and beliefs. Once you have something real you are dealing with and not the strawman, then figure out whether the truth lies in the Catholic Church or in your own belief. Keep your eyes open, because truth is truth whether you want it to be or not. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find it somewhere completely unexpected. Maybe, just maybe, the Catholic Church actually does hold the fullness of the faith, the fullness of the expression of love for Christ and His Body, the Church. Maybe, this very Church is where God meant for you to love Him and for Him to nourish you with His mercy and grace.
Most of all, seek Truth for love of Christ, our Savior. He gave up everything so that we might be united to Him and to one another in love. If He cares about truth, should not we as well? If He cares about His Bride, the Church, and is one with her, should not we submit to Him, our Head, and be one with his one, true church? He gave His Body for us—I think it is time we take seriously the wounds in His Body, wounds we have caused and wounds we bear by our division; look at these wounds and tend to them for love of Jesus, Our Lord.