Written by Sherry
Monday, 18 January 2010 10:02
Today is also the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which marks the conversion of St. Paul the Apostle and is 100 years old today.
As Pope Benedict put it in his address yesterday:
Thanks to this spiritual ecumenism -- sanctity of life, conversion of heart, private and public prayer -- the joint pursuit of unity has made great strides forward in the last decade and has diversified in many initiatives; from getting acquainted with and meeting members of various churches and church communities; to conversations and collaboration among various branches that become increasingly friendly; to theological discussions on concrete ways in which we can join together and collaborate with each other.
That which has given, and continues to give, life to this journey toward full unification for all Christians first and foremost -- is prayer. "Pray without ceasing" (I Thessalonians 5:17 ) is the theme of this year's Week of Prayer. It is at the same time an invitation that never stops resonating in our communities, because prayer is the light, the strength, the guide for our footsteps as we listen humbly to our God, the God of us all.
Secondly, the Council emphasizes common prayer, joint prayer between Catholics and other Christians directed toward the only celestial Father. To this end the Decree on Ecumenism affirms: "These prayers offered in common are doubtless a very effective means to beseech for Christian unity" (UR, 8). In common prayer Christian communities unite before the Lord, they become aware of the contradictions generated by division, and they show the will to obey the Lord's will, faithfully turning to him for his omnipotent help. Furthermore, the decree adds that such prayers are "a genuine manifestation of the links with which Catholics continue to be joined to their separated brothers" (ibid.).
Common prayer is therefore not a voluntarist or a purely sociological action, but an expression of faith that unites all disciples of Christ.
Today the truth of these words really hits home. The world suffers from the absence of God, from God's inaccessibility; it strives to know the face of God. But how could the men of today meet the face of God in the face of Jesus Christ if we, Christians, are divided, if one set of teachings is against the other?
Only united are we really able to show to the world -- that needs it -- the face of God, the face of Christ.
Vatican resources for the week are here.
How are you involved in the Church's "pursuit of unity" with our Christian brothers and sisters?