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A couple weeks ago we shared that we are unashamedly religious. Sure, you may stop over here for healthy recipes, fermentation tips or ideas of saving money, but chances are you’ve also seen a lot of prayer posts, ideas for liturgical living and quite a few quotes from saints. We aren’t pretending to be anything we are not. We have always wanted this blog to be a true expression of ourselves–the health-nut, the exercise guru, the birth junkie, the French chef, the homeschooling mom, the devoted wife, the devout Christian, on a journey always. Always.
This passed week our Facebook feed was an interesting mixture of those celebrating All Saints Day and those celebrating the Reformation, those dressing their children up as vampires and those dressingg their kids up as Saints. Truth be told, we used to celebrate the Protestant Reformation. But we stopped after being properly chastised by the Lord, beginning with a loving reader who was brave enough to tell us the truth. It was really one thing after another until our hearts were thoroughly broken by the wounding in the body of Christ. We were left feeling there was nothing to celebrate about division.
The thing is, we have always loved the Catholic Church. If you could have been a fly on the wall at any number of our coffee dates, homeschool moms meetings, or Bible studies over the years, you would have seen us passing back and forth great books we were reading or sharing with our families. Books such as The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, Orthodoxy by Chesterton, and St. Hildegard’s Scivias. We would read each other quotes from Merton or discuss transubstantiation over scones and tea. This has just been regular life, real conversations. Friends journeying together; iron sharpening iron.
Then a day came when we watched a video with Anglican Bishop Tony Palmer. We forget which of us saw it first. But, I do remember that my jaw just hung open. Then tears flowed.
In the video Bishop Palmer carried a message about Church unity that rocked us to the core. (It’s long, so we will post it at the bottom of the post. It’s worth your time, most certainly.) He reminded his Charismatic Protestant audience that the word Protestant comes from the word “Protest.” The division in the Body of Christ was done in protest, branding now half the worldwide Christian population as protesters. He then read from a document written and affirmed in 1999, available on both the Vatican and Lutheran Church websites. It is a joint agreement on the doctrines of justification (which was the primary issue that began the Reformation in 1517). It identifies the misunderstandings of the past, where the churches differ and (most importantly) where they agree.
The document says in part, “The Lutheran churches and the Roman Catholic Church have together listened to the good news proclaimed in Holy Scripture. This common listening, together with the theological conversations of recent years, has led to a shared understanding of justification. This encompasses a consensus in the basic truths….In faith we together hold the conviction that justification is the work of the triune God. The Father sent his Son into the world to save sinners. The foundation and presupposition of justification is the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ. Justification thus means that Christ himself is our righteousness, in which we share through the Holy Spirit in accord with the will of the Father. Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.” (source and source)
We are justified by grace, in faith, unto good works.
In essence, in 1999, the nearly 500 year protest was called off. Why had no one told us?
With tears in our eyes, we realized that we didn’t want our faith defined by what we disagreed on. We didn’t want to wear the label of “protester” (Protestant). Instead, we want our faith defined by the truths we embrace. We want to wear the label of “universal” (Catholic). We want our faith’s center to be a common creed and an ancient faith, rather than a thesis of things with which we take issue. Who wants to be a people united around a common disagreement, rather than a common agreement?
Biographer Paul Elie, in commenting on the life of literary genius Flannery O’Connor, wrote, “…she was converted to the religion she already believed in, and her imitation of Christ began.” (From The Life You Save May Be Your Own) This is exactly how we felt in that moment. Humble Pie was never eaten with more gratitude.
So, in case you were wondering what has been going on with these crazy girls in The Provision Room, we can set the record straight. There are no hunger strikes and no sit-ins. We’ve put down our sandwich boards and stepped out of the picket lines. We are eating cake and drinking champagne. Because, for us, the protest is over.