Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: To Together Have Faith

Out of respect for the celebration of Christmas by the Armenian Orthodox Church, the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity” entitled “Christ Cannot Be Divided!” began in Jerusalem on Saturday, January 25th, the date on which this week of prayer concluded in other parts of the world.
The faithful of Jerusalem gathered together with the Greek Orthodox Church to participate in a religious office at the Holy Sepulchre. The following day, Sunday, the Anglican Church invited Christians to unite not only to pray, but also to share together. « Not so long ago, indigenous Christians were more than 20 percent of the population. Today we are less than 2 percent. Pessimists think that Christians are doomed to disappear. I look at the number of saints called, as we are, to do the impossible. God knows that we are capable of acts of valor, » Anglican Bishop Suheil Dawani affirmed.
Monday evening, in the penumbra of the Armenian Cathedral of St. James, the faithful listened to the homily prepared by Father Baret Yeretzian who insisted that Love must be the foundational beam of every Christian life, and above all, the number one doctrine of all the Churches. “It is more important to know that we are Christian than to know that we are Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant. When we arrive before the Lord, he will not ask us what rite we were baptized into, but whether we have loved,” Sr. Bénédicte said.
Tuesday evening, with the Lutherans, Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church launched an appeal to all the Churches to see the spiritual gift that the Lord has placed in each Church. “When will we recognize in the other its quality, its charism and its complementarity? We, Churches, we forget at times that nothing belongs to us: everything has been entrusted to us in order to bear fruit. If we do not accept one another, we will not be that light which God wants for the world.”
Wednesday with the Syrian Orthodox and Coptic Orthodox Churches which together had prepared the prayer at the Convent of St. Mark, Bishop Severios Murad spoke of the person of Christ, a Christ who did not search for honors as do sometimes “our leaders and some heads of Churches. This is what undermines our unity, when one or the other of us forgets to be one reality with God and with the people of believers.” The faithful prayed especially for the Syrian people. Brother Antonio, a seminarian of the Custody, on leaving the celebration, shared: “I had especially present those suffering in the Middle East, especially the Syrian people. I also prayed intensely for all men and women who are searching for the meaning of their lives, in order that we, disciples of Christ, can be light for them in their search.”
Thursday in the Cenacle (Upper Room), Father Gregory Collins, Abbot of Dormition Abbey, remembered that the Lord offers us each day (the opportunity) to be redeemed by the blood of Christ. “My heart beats more strongly when I am in the Cenacle. It is the place of unity, since here there is a bond with the First Christians,” Fr. Antonio confided.
Friday, the Latin Patriarchate, the Latins, received in their turn the faithful and the emphasis was placed upon the responsibility to share all the benefits received from the Lord. Saturday evening, under the starry cupola of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Aba Daniel and his clergy led the faithful and pilgrims in praise and thanksgiving. And in the end, on Sunday, the smile and vivacity of Archbishop Joseph Zerey of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church underlined the gratuitous and spontaneous love of the Lord for all
In this universe of colors and sounds, each of our Churches was able to express her faith and the “beauty of the liturgical, historical and theological traditions,” as Brother Antonio noted.
The Franciscan spirituality is not foreign to the creation of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. In fact, in the heart of the American Anglican Church, a Franciscan community was founded in 1909 whose main mission was to work towards the reconciliation of Christians, and towards greater dialogue in the image of St. Francis. Their founder, Reverend Paul James Wattson who became a priest, gave this mission the form which we today know. During this same period, Father Paul Courturier in France launched this work towards dialogue among Christians in Europe. The work of Fr. Courturier and of Fr. Wattson was taken up by the Second Vatican Council. From then on, each year, an international, interconfessional commision stemming from the Pontifical Council and the Ecumenical Council of Churches prepares this Week, bearer of hope and reconciliation.
F. Rey

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