While on retreat this week, I was inspired by a big tree in front of the retreat house where I was staying. The bottom part of the trunk must have been at least eight feet across, all of it’s roots were deep in the ground. This tree had no roots sticking out of the ground like many trees, it was firmly rooted in the ground.
I would not be able to guess how old the tree is, but I can say for certain the is is several hundred years old, if not a thousand or more. At a certain point in the trunk, maybe nine feet up, it breaks off into two main branches. Both branches are very healthy, although one is much thicker and goes up much higher than the other. The two trunks also had many small branches coming out from them and they were all covered with many leaves. Both parts of the trunk are very important. Without one part of the trunk and their many branches, the tree would be incomplete. It is a very full tree, however there were some leaves dried up on the ground surrounding the tree.
This tree reminded me of the Catholic Church. The Church was founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ and Her roots go very deep. This is a tree built on rock. The trunk is very large because it was founded on the rock of Peter and the Apostles.
At one point it seems to be divided, but it is not. The Church is made up of both the eastern and western traditions. The east and west are connected by the thick trunk which is Peter and the Bishops united with him. The two trunks above are the east and the west. Both the east and the west have their own unique traditions and Liturgies. It is one tree, and with all of Her branches and leaves is a beautiful work of God. Without one trunk or the other, She would be incomplete. The dead leaves that are lying on the ground are those people and priests who have separated themselves from the Church, without the Church they loose their identity, wither and die.