April 8, 2021: The Universal Christ and Reconciliation

By Art Warren, Vestry Member

With several All Souls parishioners and others, I am a member of a group that meets monthly to discuss the book The Universal Christ by Richard Rohr.  For those unfamiliar with Rohr—as I was before joining the book group—he is a Roman Catholic Franciscan priest, spiritual director, theologian, and author of a number of books on spirituality.  The central premise of The Universal Christ, building from our Trinitarian understanding of God, is that Christ is and has been present in all creation from the beginning of time.  Although Jesus is a uniquely full embodiment of Christ, Christ—as inseparable from God the Creator—is part of and present in all creation, including in each one of us.  

The book opens with a long quotation from the memoirs of a twentieth-century English mystic, Caryll Houselander, about a vision she had while riding the London tube.  Houselander suddenly and vividly saw Christ in all her fellow strap-hangers.  As she describes her experience (far different from how I saw and responded to fellow riders during my own before-times Red Line rush hour commute): “But I saw more than that; not only was Christ in every one of them, [he was] living in them, dying in them, rejoicing in them, sorrowing in them. . . ” 

Not too long ago, another All Souls member of the book group asked me if and how the message of the book impacted me.  My immediate, almost unthinking, response was that the greatest impact has been on my reaction to the reconciliation process.   The reminder that Christ is present in each one of us has helped me respond to all the stories we’ve told with respect and appreciation and empathy for the speaker, because I recognize that Christ is present in that person.  This frame has been particularly helpful when I find the views or experience expressed are difficult or different from my own. 

Recognizing that Christ is present in the reconciliation process itself has helped me overcome impatience with what at times seems an overlong step in moving All Souls toward calling a new rector.  That thought also helps me appreciate the progress we have made as a community and allows me to be hopeful that we will emerge from this process as a spiritual home willing to nurture all souls and to appreciate the Christ who lives in each of us. 


Last Published: April 6, 2021 2:10 PM
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