My wife and I recently made our annual trip to Florida to spend time with members of our high school class  the Class of 1960.
That date means that we were in elementary school in the 1950s, a different time in many ways.
During one breakfast at Mel’s Diner in Naples, one of our group reminisced about the “morning exercises” that began each day in public schools here in New Jersey: the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, a reading from the Book of Psalms, and recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.
Jim recalled how uncomfortable he was during this ritual  not because of his theories on separation of church and state but because of his sense that he was doing something “Protestant.’’
In those days, all of us Catholic kids clamped our jaws shut after we recited “and deliver us from evil” and listened defiantly as the non-Catholic kids went on with the doxology, “for yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory ….”
Jim’s discomfiture went beyond that.
He never heard psalms when he went to church  not in English, at least  so he assumed they were “a Protestant thing.’’
He finally went to his pastor and “confessed” that he had descended into heresy or worse.
To his credit, the pastor reassured Jim that there was nothing wrong with reading the Psalms or praying along with the other kids.
That story is symptomatic of what was a much larger reality a half century ago.
On a social level, religion was never an issue among us kids, but many of us were aware of a chill on a more institutional level.
For example, when my family attended a fundraising event for the first aid squad in our town, my mother cautioned me not to mention to our pastor that I been in the basement of the Episcopal Church.
That mentality has dissipated, which is a good thing except to the extent that it reflects a decline in any kind of religious identity in our culture.
But the division remains, and that, Pope Francis recently reminded us, is a scandal.
The pope used that strong term because Jesus was so clear on this point: that he wanted his followers to be one.
Jesus himself was nonplussed by the divisions even among his small circle of apostles, and Saint Paul rebuked the Christians in Corinth for choosing up sides.
Since then, the Christian church has been beset by many disputes and today is fractured on issues of hierarchy, theology, and morality.
But Pope Francis pointed out that while Paul was lecturing the Corinthians, he was also thanking God because the same community had been “enriched in Jesus Christ, ‘in all speech and all knowledge.’”
In other words, Paul was accentuating the positive, namely the grace that all Christians had received, regardless of their quarrels.
“In spite of the suffering of divisions,” the pope said, “which unfortunately persist to this day, we welcome Paul’s words as an invitation to rejoice sincerely in the grace conceded by God to other Christians. We have experienced the same baptism, the same Holy Spirit has bestowed grace upon us, so let us rejoice!”
It may be unrealistic to expect that the issues that separate the Christian churches will all be resolved in our lifetimes.
Still, in an increasingly secular world, we Christians can rely on each other’s strengths, profit from each other’s experiences, share each other’s resources, and see ourselves as one body of disciples who have not abandoned Jesus because, after all, to whom would we go?