Mary's Role in Uniting Eastern Orthodox and Western Catholic Churches
Dr. Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.
The Eastern Orthodox and Western Catholic Churches have many things in common. They both claim their origin to the time of the apostles. They both believe in the veneration of the angels and the saints. They both have demonstrated a special reverence to the Mother of God and tried to demonstrate their love and respect for her same way as Jesus Himself did. They both share the same sacraments and the same theological beliefs. And for quite a few centuries they were one united and indivisible church. What happened since then? Why is it these two great and holy churches that are so rich in liturgical functions have worked separated for more than one thousand years?
Satan's Full Energy at Work
Theologians tell us that when God sent Lucifer into hell, He took away from him his beauty and his happiness. Lucifer's intelligence remained intact. Theologians also tell us that the intelligence on one devil surpasses the intelligence of all human beings taken together. If this is the case, we may understand how the devil had a big say in the unfortunate separation of these two great and holy churches of Christianity. The devil's motto is: Divide and conquer. For several centuries tentative efforts were made to initiate dialogues between the two churches for purpose of establishing some common ground but to no avail. In the meantime, the Blessed Mother has been sent periodically on earth by God Himself to bring messages of reconciliation that, unfortunately, were never heeded to this day.
Since all human efforts for unity were exhausted with no tangible results at all, the one way left open is the direct intervention of Our Lady who is the same lovable Mother of both Orthodox Christians and Western Catholics. The few different dogmas that exist in the two churches may be viewed as different uniforms of two regiments. The traditional saying goes like this: The habit does not make the monk. To let diversity in issues that may be termed nontheological become an impediment for unity, is deplorable to say the least. As long as there are no contradictions to the teachings of Christ, the respective different views and ways of doing things need to be mutually respected.
How does God view the Eastern Orthodox and Western Catholic Churches? God is pleased to see the Mass celebrated in both churches and to see so many people participating in these Masses which commemorate the last supper on earth of His beloved Son Jesus. God is pleased to see Himself being honored with such diversified liturgical functions. God is happy to see these two great and holy churches drawing so many souls to Him. And His Blessed Mother is overwhelmed with joy to see Her Son's last supper being enacted so often through such Eucharist liturgical functions.
Our Lady's Dedication to Unity
Our Lady wants the two churches to reunite, not in the sense that one liturgical function will have to be submitted to the other liturgical function, but in the sense that, while the two respective liturgies are preserved, there is unity of heart and mind in their common work for the glorification of her Son. On this point Jesus tell us the following story: A man had two sons to whom he gave a command. The first one said: "Yes Sir, I will do it," and then he did not do anything. The seconds one said: "No Sir, I will not do it, "and then he did what he was asked to do. Who please the Father? The disciples of Jesus replied: "The second one, the one who said "no" but then he did what he was asked. And Jesus remarked: "You gave the correct answer."
In other words, Jesus wants to show us that, as fat as God is concerned, actions speak louder than words. It nice and encouraging for both the Eastern Orthodox and Western Catholic Churches to celebrate the Eucharistic liturgy, commonly known as Mass, to pray to God, the angels, and the saints, to recite frequently the holy Rosary, and to fast and do penance. But all this without unity, without brotherly love and respect, without the practice of such virtues as humility, meekness, patience, perseverance, and prudence deprives God from the maximum of happiness that we could give Him. All this without unity causes sadness to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. And since the Blessed Mother cannot allow her Son to suffer when she can do something about it, she is constantly working for the eventual unity between these two great and holy churches.
It should not take much for us to realize how the Blessed Mother is using all kinds of means possible to bring about such a unity. She inspires us to initiate dialogues, she enlightens us to see the importance of celebrating the Eucharistic liturgy together, she helps us restructure our priorities as to give top priority on the divinity of her Son and what He stands for. Finally, Our Lady is serving as a mediator between the two involved churches to start a new millennium bearing God's standard of unity rather than Satan's banner of division.