Open Letter to Michael Gungor About Heaven Crashing Into Earth

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Michael,

I'm going to jump right into the Catholic excitement about your post today. On behalf of all Catholics (and any Christians for that matter) everywhere: Thank you. Thank you for an honest reaction to a moment of worship, and thank you for blurring the lines of denomination and hostile opposition by being unafraid to acknowledge authentic worship of Our God when it happens.

I'm glad you experienced Adoration in all its intoxicating mystery and heavy earthiness. I think you and I have a lot more in common than most Christians acknowledge.  In fact, I once heard Peter Kreeft say that for the church to become one then Catholics have to become better protestants. Better protestants than even protestants. Then and only then will protestants become Catholics - in order to become better protestants.

"The whole reason for being a Catholic is to be the best possible evangelical Protestant. What I mean by that strange statement is that the essence of evangelical protestantism is to be one with Christ, to meet Christ, and that's the best reason to be Catholic. That's the reason for the Mass, for the Eucharist, namely the "protestant" thing of meeting Christ, that's the whole thing of the "Catholic" thing of the Church and the Sacraments and the Saints and the whole thing. Christ is not great because of the Eucharist, the Eucharist is great because of Christ." (You can listen to the whole talk here.)

Catholics believe Adoration is a meeting with Christ. We participate in creation adoring the creator, and take the first step in all worship to the true and living God: acknowledging that HE IS. And in the Eucharist, HE IS.

"Christ held Himself in His hands when He gave His Body to His disciples saying: 'This is My Body.' No one partakes of this Flesh before he has adored it." - St. Augustine

The first moment of any act of love is the moment when the "I" notices the "thou". Adoration takes that moment of enamored eye-meeting and draws it out over minutes, hours, days or years. It is the purest act of the First Commandment. The Mass, then, is a consummation of this encounter where both lovers are united in communion.  Basically, the Eucharist is a pure "Come to Jesus" moment that Evangelical Protestants can really dig.

We should talk more about this whole mystery, metaphor, earthy yet divine encounter with God through worship. Some protestants call it an encounter with Christ, Catholics call it the Sacraments. And if more Catholics believed at least what protestants believed, we would have a revival in our church. And if more protestants could grasp the mystery that you saw in Adoration and that weighs in on some of your music, I think protestants would benefit. It is God making beautiful things out of dust.

Like you said, healing has to start somewhere. The Sacraments, especially the Eucharist as a meeting with Christ, could be a gateway to healing and communion between protestants and Catholics. I think protestants have a lot to teach some of us Christmas/Easter/I-only-pray-at-lunch Catholics about the importance of an encounter with the Person of Christ. And I think us Catholics have a lot to teach protestants about the beauty of the mystery of encounter robbed in the trappings of earth and flesh and smoke and lights and smells and colors and bread.

Thanks Michael, for making me a better protestant.

Your Brother in Christ, Edmund

P.S. If you want to grab a sacramental beer with a young Catholic in Denver who GETS this stuff about Christ and mystery and worship, I've got a friend that would LOVE to buy you a pint.

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