martes, 26 de enero de 2016

Called to Proclaim the Mighty Acts of God

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2016 January 18 -25, 2016

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is a time for Christians of all denominations to unite their hearts and voices to God in recognition that we are all members of the one Body of Christ. This observance was begun in 1908 by Father Paul Watson, cofounder of the Graymoor Fathers of the Atonement. It begins each year on January 18 and concludes on January 25, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. Pope St. Pius X blessed the idea and it has been endorsed by every pope until this time. The materials for the weeklong observance are jointly prepared and simultaneously released by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity (part of the Roman Curia) and the World Council of Church (a worldwide organization of the other Christian churches).

Christian unity (or ecumenism) was strongly endorsed by the Second Vatican Council. It issued a Decree on Ecumenism that encouraged the Catholic Church to enter into prayer and dialogue with Christian of various denominations. The foundation of ecumenism is that all Christians are members of the one body of Christ and that our common baptism unites us. It includes the realization that there is more things that unites us as Christians than those things on which we do not agree. We are challenged to build bridges across denominations and work on common projects for the good of all people in need. We are encouraged to engage in dialogue with other Christians in an effort to discover the many things on which we agree and to do the hard work of trying to understand and appreciate our differences.

On the personal level, I have had many opportunities to share in the spirit of the ecumenical movement. I went back to school for higher studies in 1986 and attended Andover Newton Theological School (run by the United Church of Christ and the American Baptist Church). That is where I earned my Doctor in Ministry degree. During that experience I not only discovered how much we Christians believe in common, but I also learned to appreciate more the uniqueness of our Catholic tradition. Years later, I had the opportunity to become involved in an ecumenical prison ministry called Kairos. It engaged a team of Christians from various denominations to enter a prison and give a weekend retreat. It was a basic course in Christianity and encouraged the inmates to accept the Lord’s invitation to a deeper relationship and to become involved in their own denomination while in prison. From this experience I learned that Protestants and Catholics can evangelize together.

In the various parishes where I have ministered as a priest, we always observed this week of prayer for Christian unity. I have always found it uplifting and inspiring to join in joyful praise with our Christian brothers and sisters. We have held joint prayer services during which the choir from one church would sing, the reader comes from another church and the homilist from still another. What a wonderful expression of our unity.

The theme for this year’s week of prayer is Called to Proclaim the Mighty Acts of God. It acknowledges that all baptized Christians are called to proclaim the goodness of God. As Christians seeking the unity of the Body of Christ we are all called to recognize the mighty acts of God in our own lives and the life of the Church. During this week, whether alone or with other Christians, let us pray with Jesus the desire he expressed on his last night on earth: “Father, may they be one.”

by: Fr. Ron Bagley, CJM (Provincial Delegate to the Philippines)

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