Evangelical Charity Engagement Family Ministry Discipleship Formation Worship Podcast
Episode 14: Building Unity in the Church

Fr. Steve Pullis and Beth Spizarny discuss charity, humility, a heart of evangelization, listening, forgiveness, and investing time in one another. This discussion will inspire you to consider how you encounter those around you, grow together as disciples, and witness to the power of God’s love to bring unity where there is discord. Take a listen.

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Show notes:

(00:04) Fr. Steve Pullis and Beth Spizarny reflect on Lent, Easter customs, and how they live the Triduum. Beth shares that she and her family have created unique traditions surrounding the celebration for the Easter Vigil. Fr. Pullis’ family would all get new socks on Easter- and he remembers this being a special thing. Beth poses the question, “how can we expand the celebration of Easter?

(04:50) The topic for this episode is introduced: working for unity when there are so many opinions and voices of disunity. Our hosts wish to build a culture of unity in the Church. Fr. Steve Pullis acknowledges the stress and strain of COVID times.

(6:47) Beth shares a challenge of being a leader during the pandemic and how difficult it can be to lead during times of uncertainty. “Emotions are high and people feel strongly.” This poses new challenges for leadership. Together, Beth and Fr. Pullis mentions that liturgy, care for those experiencing same-sex attraction, and other concerns can be areas in which there are strong opinions and disagreements in parish life. “We don’t need to think of unity as a compromise of truth or scientific realities or beliefs, but unity requires a radical openness to the other person. God is more powerful than our disagreement here.”

(15:25) Why is unity important? Why should we care about unity? Beth has insights into how unity bears fruit. Without unity, there will be no fruit. Fr. Pullis notes that it is a scandal to proclaim the Gospel with disunity. In the Creed we proclaim, “we believe in one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church.” And that oneness of God must inspire us to work toward unity amongst our brothers and sisters. It is in our identity as Christians to be united because God himself is a unity.

(19:00) First principle for seeking unity in our Church: charity. We must keep our eyes on Christ and lead with charity. JPII said, “In what is doubtful, we need freedom. In what is necessary, we need unity. And in all things, we need charity.” In our current world, we don’t face as many heresies surrounding what we understand about Christ, but we do have moral confusion right now. Charity must propel us in our missions- we must want all those around us to be with us in heaven.

(27:09) Second principle for seeking unity in our Church: humility and openness to the other. Do we listen to people who disagree with us? Fr. Steve makes the point that we should limit our time in the digital world in order to grow in relationships with the people close to us. This perspective of seeing another through the lens of their destiny is a helpful posture of heart.

(31:00) Third principle for seeking unity in our Church: having the lens of evangelisation in moments of disunity. Beth shares that disagreements can blind us to seeing the other person as a soul we need to witness the Gospel to. Out of service to the other person, we must treat others with Gospel love. The way we treat each other reflects our faith. This takes spiritual maturity.

(33:40) Fourth principle for seeking unity in our Church listening. Beth speaks of “giving someone a good listening.” Do we have time to listen to those who are hurting? We can’t find unity unless we receive the other. ”We can’t offer anything unless we listen.” This also takes spiritual maturity.

(36:40) Fifth principle for seeking unity in our Church: forgiveness. We must let go of our own hurt and our own anger in order to be available to others. Fr. Pullis says that it can be easy to be locked in on the faults of others and not see their goodness. Anger can blind us.

(41:14) Sixth principle for seeking unity in our Church: intentionally spending time with each other. Pope Francis reminds us, “when we live apart from others, it is very difficult to fight against concupiscence, the snares and temptations of the devil, and the selfishness of the world. Bombarded as we are by so many enticements, we can grow too isolated, lose our sense of reality and inner clarity, and easily succumb.” Unity comes through relationship.