Tag Archives: Friars of the Atonement

2010 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: You are witness of these things

Since 1908 the Church has called upon us to join in prayer with
other Christians around the world during the Week of Prayer for Christian
. We do this work of prayer as an education in hope for spiritual and actual Christian unity realizing that the Holy Spirit is the only one capable of bring unity among various groups of Christians. The proposal for a week of prayer was initiated in the USA by Franciscans of the Atonement Father Paul
Wattson and it is held from January 18 – 25. Today the observance is international in scope.

It is generally held that the 1910
World Mission Conference
in Edinburgh, Scotland, marked the beginnings of the
modern ecumenical movement.

2010 WPCU.jpg

In tribute, the promoters of the Week of Prayer for
Christian Unity, the Commission on Faith and Order and the Pontifical Council for
Promoting Christian Unity
, invited the Scottish churches to prepare this year’s
theme.  They suggested: “You are
witnesses of these things
” (Luke 24:48).

The 2010 theme is a reminder that as the
community of faith those reconciled with God and in Christ, “You are witness of
these things
“–witness to the truth of the power of salvation in Jesus Christ
who will also make real his prayer, 
“That all may be one…so the world may believe.” *Witness gives praise
to the Presence who gives us the gift of life and resurrection; by knowing how
to share the story of our faith with others; by recognizing that God is at work
in our lives; by giving thanks for the faith we have received; by confessing
Christ’s victory over all suffering; by seeking to always be more faithful to
the Word of God; by growing in faith, hope and love; and by offering
hospitality and knowing how to receive it when it is offered to us.

to observe the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity are available from the
Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute, a ministry of the Franciscan Friars
of the Atonement

For more information visit www.geii.org

Our Lady of the Atonement

Father Paul Wattson, the founder with Mother Lurana White, of the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement, gave hundreds of sermons, conducted numerous retreats, delivered many radio addresses and wrote extensively in four magazines: The Pulpit of the Cross, The Lamp, The Candle and The Antidote.

The following piece is Father Wattson’s commentary on the feast of Our Lady of the Atonement. This Marian feast was approved by the Holy See in 1946 but it was first observed in July 1901.

The theological datum on atonement and therefore mercy, is near-and-dear to the heart of the Church and indeed to all Christians, so today’s feast is apt. Let us pray for each other!

OL of the Atonement.jpg

I am writing this letter on the day which we are accustomed to observe at Graymoor in special honor of Our Lady of the Atonement. This particular name of Our Blessed Mother is very dear to us and we believe it is dear to Our Lady herself. We hold it as among the most treasured and sacred traditions of our Institute that it was the Blessed Virgin who first taught us to call her by that name and there are cogent reasons why she should give this title a favorite place among the many by which she is invoked.

First among these reasons must be her own devotion to the mystery of the Atonement, for it was by the death of her son on the Cross, which cost him the last drop of his blood and made her preeminently the mother of sorrows, that the wall of division between God and man was broken down and both were made one (Ephesians 2:14), through Christ’s atoning sacrifice.

As the Blessed Virgin is inseparably associated with our divine redeemer in the mystery of his incarnation, so is she closely associated with him in the great act of the atonement. Thus, is she always represented in the Gospel and in the liturgy and thought of the Catholic Church as standing by the cross, when Christ was crucified there.

There is a second reason, hardly less weighty than the first, why the title, Our Lady of the Atonement, should powerfully appeal to the mother of God. It was through the Incarnation she become the mother of Christ, but through the atonement she became the new Eve and the mother of all the regenerate, who being redeemed by the precious blood are predestined to eternal life as the adopted sons of God and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. The third time Our Lord spoke upon the cross it was to emphasize this phase of the Atonement, when he said to his mother: “Woman, behold your son,” and to St. John, “Son, behold your mother.” [John 19:26-27] Thus by virtue of the atonement Mary is the mother of all who live through Christ. Can anyone therefore possibly conceive the depth of significance this title “Our Lady of the Atonement” must possess for Our Blessed Mother herself?

But someone will ask, if so highly esteemed, why should it be kept hidden for nineteen hundred years, to be made known to the faithful in the twentieth century? Is it not the custom even of earthly mothers to preserve the choicest
fruits in the summer time and hide them away under lock and key, to bring them forth to their children’s delight in the depth of winter and did not the master of the wedding feast say to the bridegroom at Cana,

Every man at first brings forth good wine and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse. But you have kept the good wine until now. [John 2:10]

“My ways are not your ways,” [Isaiah 55:8] says the Lord of Hosts.

(The Lamp, August 1919, pp.503-4)

God understands our weakness

Of all the parables this [one on the prodigal son,
Matthew15:11-32] is the most popular, appealing more universally to the heart
of man than any other. In fact, it contains the whole scope of the theology of
God and the salvation of men. And to some extent it applies to all of us to
some degree. Unless we have lived perfect lives, it is true we are called

As Catholics, if we have done wrong, we go back to our Father.
Christ is represented by a priest. We say, “Father, bless me for I have
sinned.” The priest gives a blessing. The penitent then says, “Father, it is so
long since my last confession and I have sinned as follows.” He expresses his
sorrow and contrition for his sins. Then the words of absolution are pronounced
over him. God sees in him one that has been redeemed by the blood of Christ.

Then he is led to the glorious Lamb of God, slain for us on
Calvary, residing in the tabernacle, to be our food. The tabernacle door is
opened. It contains these hosts, every one of which is the body, blood, soul
and divinity of the Lamb of God, giving peace to you, and there is rejoicing
among the angels.

There is told the story of an old French curate when a
prodigal came to him. As he was making his confession in the sacristy, the
priest smiled and the young man stopped and said, “Father, if you are going to
laugh at me I won’t go on with my confession.” “My son,’ said the priest, “You
misunderstand. I was only thinking of what the Lord said, ‘There is more
rejoicing among the angels of heaven over one sinner that repents than over
ninety-nine just persons which need no repentance.'” That is the spirit of the
mercy and love of God. God understands our weaknesses, our waywardness,
infirmities, like sheep going astray. His love goes out, seeks us, so glad to
have us come to Him. The very angels of God sing with God the Father, that we
are back home again.

I hope that everybody, in the degree in which you are a
prodigal, will take home the message of the love of Christ, the Sacred Heart of
Jesus, and won’t keep away from it. Repent of your sins, feel his embrace, that
joy of conscience after a good confession, after you have been forgiven. The
Father’s says, “I am well pleased with you now. You were lost and you are
found.” [See Luke 15:32]

(Father Paul Wattson, SA, Retreat at Hereford, Texas,
June 1922)

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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