We find ourselves in the midst of the 'Week of Prayer for Christian Unity'. In reflection upon this, it needs to be said that such a week is not an invention that comes to us following the Second Vatican Council. Rather, it was an intention of the Church prior to the Council. In fact, as I understand it, beginning on the Feast of the Chair of Peter at Rome, the Church prayed daily for the unity of the flock under one Shepherd, in one Church. This great "novena" ended with the Festival of the the Conversion of Paul. The intervening days included great Feasts of Martyrs, Virgins, Confessors who suffered and persevered in the Faith for the greater honor and glory of God and of His Most Blessed Mother.
I thought that I would review the Introit and the Collecta from the Votive Mass which may have been offered at some point in this Week -- that is the Votive Mass for the Unity of the Church.
Introit: Save us, O Lord our God: and gather us from among the nations: that we may give thanks unto Thy holy name: and may glory in Thy praise. Ps. Give glory to the Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endureth forever. Glory be to the Father....
What is important to consider in this the opening words of the Mass is the prayer of the Church toward Her Lord and Master to gather us from our differences and from the "scatteredness" of our world into a body, into a flock, into a FAMILY who give honor and praise to him. And in that unity, which ONLY God can give, we participate in His glory and experience His LOVING mercy, through the sacraments.
Collect: O God, Who settest straight what has gone astray, and gatherest together what is scattered, and keepest what Thou hast gathered together: we beseech Thee in Thy mercy to pour down on Christian people the grace of union with Thee, that, putting disunion aside and joining themselves to the true Shepherd of Thy Church, they may be able to render Thee worthy service. Through our Lord.
The Church, that bulwark and defense against the wiles of the devil, is at the same time the true harbor and port of the ship that sails the seas of the world on a journey toward heaven. She has the complete map, a working compass, and a sure rudder that strong. The test of Faith is to remain aboard during storms, boredom, and/or restlessness.... At times, the emotions lead us astray and we THINK that we find assurance and consolation in what feeds those emotions.