Tag Archives: Christian Unity

Prayer for Christian Unity

Christ icon Sinai 6thcFrom the 18-25 January 2014 the churches will observe what is called the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Pope Paul VI in 1964 spoke of ecumenism not as a frontier, but a opening a door; not closing a dialogue, but keeping it open; not blaming for errors, but seeking virtue.

The work of dialogue among Christians can be extraordinarily beautiful and satisfying but it can also be difficult and frustrating. Much has to be focused on recognizing the Lord as the way, truth and the life, and then how to live the truth by relying with all our strength on the Holy Spirit. The key, in my estimation is not determined by human persons but by the Divine Persons. Spiritual ecumenism needs to be better known, lived and promoted. The object is for Christians to pray in a full visible way as one in Spirit and Truth.

The theme for 2014 is “Has Christ been divided?” (1 Cor. 1:1-17)

Resources are found here.

Blessed Maria Gabriella Sagheddu, pray for us.

Conversion of Saint Paul

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O God, who taught the whole world through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Paul, draw us, we pray, nearer to you through the example of him whose conversion we celebrate today, and so make us witnesses to your truth in the world.

“Today, there is a great need for reconciliation, dialogue and mutual understanding,” in contemporary culture, said Pope Benedict XVI.

Let’s pray for the unity of Christians…

Catholics and Orthodox need to preserve the good of the dialogue for unity

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Back on 31 October 2012, Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk

delivered a lecture dedicated to the past and present of Orthodox-Catholic dialogue at Villanova University (Philadelphia, PA). The 46 year old Metropolitan earned a doctorate from Oxford University and was ordained a bishop in 2002. In addition to being a residential bishop he is also the head of the Department of the External Church Relations since 2009. He is a widely published author and an excellent musician of international repute. The two Churches share the same concerns, though there are nuances to be made but that is a conversation for another time. 

I think it is apropos to give a few extracts from the Metropolitan’s talk that pose some points for reflection on the unity of Christians. Remember we beginning the octave of Christian Unity on the 18th.

“The teaching of the holy fathers of the first millennium, when the Churches of the East and the West abided in unity, although at times this unity was subjected to serious trials, is the sure foundation upon which dialogue between Christians can develop successfully and fruitfully. It is my profound conviction that fidelity to the Christian tradition, the preservation of continuity in the teaching and life of the Church is the proper means for the restoration of unity among Christ’s disciples.

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The priority renewal of the faith

The full body of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met with the Pope on Friday, 27 January, to discuss his conviction that no other work of the Church, particularly this congregation, takes precedence to the work of evangelization. Everyone ought to be committed “to bringing God back into this world and to opening to all men access to the faith.”

Benedict see now as the opportune moment “to point out to all the gift of faith in the Risen Christ, the clear teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the invaluable doctrinal synthesis offered by the Catechism of the Catholic Church.” Recently, the Pope said that “we are facing a profound crisis of faith, a loss of religious meaning which constitutes the greatest challenge to the Church” (Message for World Mission Day).

Other things that concern us, the Pope noted were:

1. the unity among Christians:  maintaining “coherence in the ecumenical task with the Second Vatican Council and the whole of Tradition”;

2. warned of the dangers of “a shallow moralism”;

3. to promote “the logic” contained in the conciliar teaching: “the sincere search for the full unity of all Christians is a dynamism animated by the Word of God”;

4. a need for a “discernment between Tradition with a capital letter and the traditions”: “There exists,” he said, “a spiritual wealth in the different Christian confessions, which is an expression of the one faith and gift to share” (reflecting the recent work done for the full communion of Anglicans).

The last concern of Benedict was that the entire Church speak with one voice with Peter.

Christ’s desire for unity, a communio

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The Papal General Audience given in the Paul VI Hall today, Benedict spoke of the desire for unity that our Lord expressed in his priestly prayer at the Last Supper (John 17):

Against the backdrop of the Jewish feast of expiation Yom Kippur, Jesus, priest and victim, prays that the Father will glorify him in this, the hour of his sacrifice of reconciliation. He asks the Father to consecrate his disciples, setting them apart and sending them forth to continue his mission in the world. Christ also implores the gift of unity for all those who will believe in him through the preaching of the apostles.

Sacred Scripture and sacred Tradition and now echoed by Pope Benedict, believes that Christ’s priestly prayer is understood as His instituting the Church, the community of faith, the communio found  explicitly in a church that is one, holy, catholic and apostolic. Taking the Pauline manner of thinking, we are disciples of Christ who, through faith in Christ, are one and share in His saving mission:

In meditating upon the Lord’s priestly prayer, let us ask the Father for the grace to grow in our baptismal consecration and to open our own prayers to the needs of our neighbors and the whole world. Let us also pray, as we have just done in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, for the gift of the visible unity of all Christ’s followers, so that the world may believe in the Son and in the Father who sent him.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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