The Pastor's Column



Fr. Maina


Note: As you may have read in a previous bulletin, Fr. Maina is visiting his family in Kenya for several weeks. This topic was selected and the article assembled by the bulletin editor in honor of the upcoming Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

International Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, January 18-25, 2018

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has a history of over 100 years, in which Christians around the world have taken part in an octave of prayer for visible Christian unity. By annually observing the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Christians move toward the fulfillment of Jesus' prayer at the Last Supper "that they all may be one." (cf. John 17:21)

The theme of this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is "Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power" (Exodus 15:6). According to Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute (GEII), "Throughout the Biblical narrative of salvation, an unmistakable motif is the unrelenting determination of the Lord to form a people whom He could call His own. The formation of such a people, united in a sacred covenant with God, is integral to the Lord's plan of salvation and to the glorification of His name. The prophets repeatedly remind Israel that their covenant demanded that relationships among its various social groups should be characterized by justice, compassion and mercy. Reconciliation often demands repentance, reparation and healing of memories."

In preparation for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, ecumenical partners in a particular region were asked to prepare a basic text on a biblical theme. Then an international group organized through the World Council of Churches and The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity edited this text which was jointly published by these same groups, through their Commission on Faith and Order. The World Council of Churches accompanied the entire production process of the text. The final material was sent to member churches and Roman Catholic dioceses, and they were invited to translate the text and contextualize it for their own use. The text is as follows:

The Churches of the Caribbean were chosen to draft the material for the 2018 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The contemporary Caribbean is deeply marked by the dehumanizing project of colonial exploitation. Very regrettably, during five hundred years of colonialism and enslavement, Christian missionary activity in the region, with the exception of a few outstanding examples, was closely tied to this dehumanizing system and in many ways rationalized it and reinforced it. Whereas those who brought the Bible to this region used the scriptures to justify their subjugation of a people in bondage, in the hands of the enslaved, it became an inspiration, an assurance that God was on their side, and that God would lead them into freedom. Today Caribbean Christians of many different traditions see the hand of God active in the ending of enslavement. It is a uniting experience of the saving action of God which brings freedom. For this reason the choice of the song of Moses and Miriam (Ex 15:1-21), as the motif of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2018 was considered a most appropriate one.

To learn more about Christian unity or ecumenism, check out “On the Path Toward Christian Unity,” a 14-part video series that explores the multi- faceted world of ecumenism and its relevance in the world we live in today. It is viewable on the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops at http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/on-the-path-toward-christian-unity.cfm.

Sources:

  • Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute, geii.org 
  • United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, usccb.org 
  • World Council of Churches, oikoumene.org