An excerpt from the talk:
At the very heart of the Christian faith is the revelation of the Blessed Trinity: God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three Persons united in the one Godhead. The revelation of the Trinity is not one doctrine among others, but it is God’s very self-manifestation in which God does not just impart some abstract knowledge about himself, but rather draws us in to the depths of the mystery of his life and love so that we might be saved, healed, and restored to relationship with him. The revelation of the Trinity encompasses the whole of the Christian faith, and therefore will be a helpful context for our reflection on unity. The communion of the Church flows from the communion of the Blessed Trinity, which is a model of unity not based on uniformity, nor is it a unity without substance.
The Father is the source and author of all life. He reveals himself, that is to say, he gives himself to the World in giving his Incarnate Son and he pours forth the Holy Spirit with the Son so that every aspect of this revealing self-gift might be illuminated and life-giving. The Church, receiving the gift of the Son and being vivified by the Spirit, responds in Eucharistic praise, offering back to the Father for the sake of the world the very gift she has received. This the Church does in the power of the Holy Spirit who effects the transformation of the Church’s gifts into the Body and Blood of Christ, the only acceptable sacrifice which brings salvation to the whole world.
The encounter with Divine Revelation and the dynamic of inter-Personal love in God characterizes the most basic shape of the Church which stands before the Father, in the Son, through the Holy Spirit. Through our Eucharistic sharing in the death and resurrection of Christ, we, the many, are made one in Christ Jesus. This communion with Christ fashioned by the Spirit allows us access to the Father. Indeed, the greatest prayer of the Church is the oneour Lord gave us in which we call God not only his Father, but “Our Father”.
From the perspective of the world, this is indeed a new kind of unity different from all other human attempts at oneness. The history of the world demonstrates again and again that human beings often go about trying to construct unity by enforcing uniformity. When we think of how this has played out in governments and societies, particularly in the totalitarian regimes of the last century, we see that there is an inherent danger in this conception. Uniformity tends toward the elimination of those who do not conform or comply. Conversely, another way the world tries to achieve oneness is by simply overlooking or ignoring the differences that do exist, even to the point of allowing contradictory claims to truth. But this kind of liberal expansiveness, which is rather a hallmark of “latitudinarian” Anglicanism, brings about a unity that is naïve and ephemeral and is, in fact, unity in name only. It is relativism in the absolute and erodes the very foundation of truth upon which true ecclesial communion is built.
True communion is rooted in the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a communion in which the diversity of the Persons is constituted and sustained by their essential relations. The Father is not the Son and the Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son, and yet each divine Person is who he is in relation to and in perfect communion with the other. This communion in difference is the key insight as we consider our participation as Church in the Trinitarian mystery. We are all called to discipleship and grafted onto the ecclesial Body of Christ through Baptism. Our unity with one another as members of the one Body does not destroy our distinctiveness. Clergy and lay, religious and secular, married and single, male and female, we all share an equal dignity and are formed into one Church through the profession of “one Lord, one faith and one Baptism”. Our distinctiveness and interdependence is a blessing for the Church and a source of its vitality.
The unity of the one and the many is a key insight of Anglicanorum coetibus. The unity of the Church is an image of the eternal unity of God, and according to that heavenly pattern, unity is not achieved by an elimination of distinctiveness. The unity of faith, therefore, permits a diversity of expression of that one faith. This is what is meant in the Apostolic Constitution when it says that groups of Anglicans can enter into communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony. The diversity in liturgical expressions, in some governance structures and in parochial culture does not threaten ecclesial communion. The overarching structure which holds together these expressions is the faith of the Church, ever ancient and ever new, and expressed eloquently in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
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