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On reaching Christian unity

January 25, 2007

Today is the last day of the Week of prayer for Christian Unity. Here are excerpts from a very good homily by Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He recounts some of the progress made in 2006 in regards to ecumenism and especially what we should do as baptized Christians in helping to promote Christian unity (Read the complete story on Zenit):

The journey towards full communion may be slow and mostly imperceptible; but the Holy Spirit is at work, and someday, without us knowing how, he will bring to completion the work that he has begun.

So, what should we do?

Because the Church is not just her ministers and leaders but the whole body of the faithful, more and more people need to be involved in what is being called “spiritual ecumenism.” Christians, no matter what tradition they belong to, can say with joy and gratitude that “what unites us is much greater than what divides us.”

They believe in God the Father Almighty, in Jesus Christ, Son of God and Savior, and in the Holy Spirit, the advocate, the giver of life and holiness. They recognize that through the sacrament of baptism they are spiritually reborn and united with Christ and with one another. Together they honor Sacred Scripture as the word of God and as an abiding norm of belief and action. They share in prayer and in many other common sources of the spiritual life.

The Holy Spirit is operative among all the baptized with his sanctifying power. He calls all to true holiness, and it is he who in every generation has prepared Christians of all traditions to face martyrdom for Christ. Spiritual ecumenism appreciates and values all these gifts in the Churches of East and West. So we need opportunities for a spiritual exchange of gifts.

Christians from different traditions need to meet each other, and in prayer, through a healing of memories, inspire each other to ever greater fidelity to Christ and to the Gospel.

That, in great part, is the value of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Having a special week does not exhaust our commitment, but it reminds us that to love Christ’s Church is to yearn for her holiness and her unity.

See also our previous posts on ecumenism, especially the differences between evangelization and ecumenism: Clarifying Cardinal Kasper on Ecumenism.

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