Do Not Despair or Give Up (Leo, the Rosary, and Christian Unity, part 8 of 10)

Oct 23rd, 2014 | By | Category: Blog Posts, Catholic Life and Devotion

This is the eighth in a ten part guest series by Beth Turner, the wife of Barrett Turner. Beth and Barrett were received into full communion at Easter 2010 and live in Virginia with their four children. Beth’s story of her journey into the Catholic Church can be found at Saved by Love: A Seminary Wife’s Journey.

Do Not Despair or Give Up


“But there are some who, whilst they honestly agree with what We have said, yet because their hopes–especially as regard the peace and tranquillity of the Church–have not yet been fulfilled, nay, rather because troubles seem to augment, have ceased to pray with diligence and fervor, in a fit of discouragement. Let these look into themselves and labour that the prayers they address to God may be made in a proper spirit, according to the precept of our Lord Jesus Christ. And if there be such, let them reflect how unworthy and how wrong it is to wish to assign to Almighty God the time and the manner of giving His assistance, since He owes nothing to us.” (Octobri Mense 10)

It has been nearly a millennium since Catholic and Orthodox Christians have been separated, and nearly 500 years since Protestants and Catholics have been “of one mind” about matters of faith. These divisions among those who have the Christian name take a toll on us. They take a toll on relationships within our families. The take a toll on our friendships. They take a toll on our witness in the world.

It has only been 4 1/2 years since my conversion, and I experience a great temptation to give up on the goal of Christian unity. It has been two years since my husband and I began praying the Rosary every day, and it is tempting to offer my prayers for intentions which seem more possible in human terms. It is hard to hope and pray so fervently for something such as Christian unity and to fail to see the way to bring it about. Sometimes, it is tempting not to pray for Christian unity at all, because calling to mind the state of Christianity can be bitter and disappointing.

As Pope Leo XIII advises, we must not to give in to this temptation. Jesus Himself prayed for this intention explicitly, so we know that it is close to His heart. The Church recommends that we pray for this intention every morning with the Morning Offering prayer. We can do nothing apart from the help of God, including the return to a happy state of unity among Christian believers.

Part 7 of this series is available here.

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  1. I really liked this one a lot, Beth. That last sentence from Octobri Mense is such an important thing to remember. We should all be praying for unity and asking for Christ’s particular help before engaging in any ecumenical dialogue, because on our own we can do nothing! in Christ, Casey

  2. Beth,

    First of all, I want to thank you for this entire series. Four years after my return to the Catholic Church, I still struggle with praying the Rosary. I pray the Hail Mary often, and I love and share the Church’s devotion to Mary, but I’m just not good at praying the Rosary! (Maybe it’s partially a “man thing,” with many of us only being able to focus well on one thing at one time– the meditations are so hard for me!) Again, thanks for this series– it’s an encouragement to me to persevere in this prayer that is so important to the faith of many Catholics.

    I also want to add, for any non-Catholics reading here who *abhor* the Rosary, it is really much more *Christocentric* than the feared “praying to Mary” that is in the imaginations of many of our non-Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ!

    Speaking of these dear brothers and sisters, your post above is particularly poignant for me to read today. Just before the end of Mass this morning, our priest informed us that at the parish’s “Scarecrow Festval” for children yesterday afternoon (which I was not able to attend), the gathering was suddenly confronted by a very loud and disruptive “protest” of sorts. This “protest” consisted of Protestant Christians with pamphlets and bullhorns, yelling at the Catholics (within earshot of the children, who were obviously confused at this chaos!) about the importance of being “saved by Jesus Christ.” At the time, the priest was inside the church building, but when some parents alerted him about the happenings outside, he came out and attempted to talk with the protestors. They just continued to yell, through they bullhorns no less, and shake their pamphlets at him. They wouldn’t even respond when he tried to ask them their names!

    Obviously, it would be very, very easy for us to become to be *sinfully angry* at these people– to become utterly livid with them. However, God bless him, our priest reminded us that this would not be the Christ-like reaction. Rather, he exhorted us, in love, to pray for these people, and to pray for him as well, because we literally don’t know when he will most need those prayers (such as yesterday)!

    Even in the face of sad, deplorable events such as Catholic children seeing their Catholic parents being yelled at to be *saved by Jesus,” we must continue to hope and pray for Christian unity. I am preaching to myself first here, because I am easily tempted to hopelessness and bitterness regarding this issue. However, God has brought so many of us, who once sincerely believed that Catholics are non-Christians, to a much better understanding (even to the point of becoming Catholic, or returning to the Catholic Church!), and He can and will continue to do so– even, possibly, for some who use bullhorns to spread their misunderstandings about Catholicism. (At my “Reformed Baptist” church, years ago, we were taught to “gently” share with Catholics that they needed to be “saved by faith alone in Christ alone”– but the mistaken “evangelizing of Catholics” was essentially the same message, in content, as with the bullhorn protestors.)

  3. I found this bit of encouragement exactly what I needed today , thank you Jesus. How merciful He is.
    That aside as a convert coming into the fullness of the faith 8 years ago from Loosely Lutheran and the Church of England teaching, I am glad that I am not the only one praying for unity.
    In my humble oppinion and thinking of Romans 8:28 ,which I really only read in full when Dr Scott Hahn signed my book with that scripture back in 2009 , God uses these splits / dissagreements as His tool to maintain fervor and striving for truth. Incase we in the west hadnt noticed , we tend to be pretty lukewarm as Christians untill we are tested in some way. Thank God for our sufferings because without that He might just spit us out since He has said He would rather we be hot or cold!
    For me it was a persecution involving the very talents of leadership that God had given me . It was a wake up call that what God has given He can also take away and He gives not for our benifit but so that we can freely give back in love for Him. I digress .
    I believe that God allowed the Protestant revolt for example , to encourage greater study by the layity rather than just accepting to be spoon fed .it was time for us to be weaned off the milk! I believe the fruit that some may see as destruction is actually a greater search for truth and now – since Intelligent people started to wake up from their slumber during the so called enlightenment , I personally believe that God is drawing many lerned men and women who have grappled with the truth found it and freel come in . It is these people he is using to be new witnesses and frome their conversion stories ( as opposed to ‘ I converted because i married a Cathic) and their authorative positions of having been pastors or leaders in other denominations they will call in the rest of the flock with their bleating . the flock are comeing in one by one at first but soon the whol heard will start to run but they may need the sheepdog of persecution biting at their heels..

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