The Valley Catholic January 16, 2018 - Page 13

tvc.dsj.org | January 16, 2018 IN THE CHURCH 13 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2018 Theme Announced By Father Thomas Orians, SA Associate Director – Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute The theme for the 2018 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, “Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power,” is taken from the book of Exodus 15:6. The resources for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity have been prepared by the churches of the Caribbean by an ecumenical team of women and men under the leadership of His Grace Ken- neth Richards, Catholic Archbishop of Kingston, the Antilles Episcopal Confer- ence, together with Mr. Gerard Granado, General Secretary of the Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC). The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated in the Northern Hemisphere from January 18-25 each year. 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 relation- ships among its various social groups should be characterized by justice, compassion and mercy. Reconciliation often demands repentance, reparation and healing of memories. As Jesus prepared to seal the new covenant in His own blood, His earnest prayer to the Father was that those given to Him by the Father would be one, just as He and the Father were one. When Christians discover their unity in Jesus, they participate in Christ’s glorification in the presence of the Father, with the same glory that He had lived in the Fa- ther’s presence before the world existed. Therefore, God’s covenanted people must always strive to be a reconciled community that serves as an effective sign of how to live in justice and peace for all the people of the earth. Today, the Bible continues to be a source of consolation and liberation, inspiring Christians to address the conditions that currently undermine the Body of Christ. The Church, like Israel, is called to be a sign and an active agent of reconciliation. The resource materials for the an- nual celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity are prepared by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement ministry, Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute (GEII). When available, items may be purchased at their secure website GEII.org. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began as an eight day period of prayer called the Church Unity Octave here at Graymoor established by found- ers of the Society of the Atonement, Mother Lurana White, SA, and Servant of God Father Paul of Graymoor. Father Tom Orians, SA, Associate Director of GEII emphasizes its importance explaining, “As Christians pray and work together in seeking to bring about Christian Unity one discovers just how important this Week of Prayer for Chris- tian Unity is for our world today.” Pope Urges Christians to Think About What They Say in the Our Father By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY – To pray the Lord’s Prayer and believe what one is reciting takes real courage, Pope Francis said. One must be bold “to truly believe that God is the father who accompanies me, forgives me, gives me bread, is atten- tive to everything I ask,” Pope Francis said in a filmed conversation about the Our Father. The Italian bishops’ television sta- tion, TV2000, was to begin airing a nine-part series Oct. 25 featuring Pope Franc is’ conversation with Father Marco Pozza, an Italian prison chaplain and theologian. A long trailer for the pro- gram was released Oct. 18. The original idea for the project was that Father Pozza would explain the Our Father phrase by phrase and discuss its meaning and implications with a hand- ful of famous Italians from the world of culture and entertainment. But, the priest told reporters at a news conference, when he told one of the prisoners in Padua about it, the man said, “If he knew about it, Pope Francis would participate, too.” “At first, I didn’t take it that seri- ously,” Father Pozza said, “but then I wrote to the pope.” A few days later the pope phoned him and the project was transformed. In the program’s trailer, Pope Francis ponders whether most people who recite the Our Father really believe any of it. “We say that we are Christians, that we have a father, but we live – I won’t say like animals – but like people who don’t believe either in God or in human- ity,” the pope says. Not only do people act as if they have no faith, but “we live not in love, but in hatred, competition and wars.” Pope Francis asked if believers really could say that God’s name is “hallowed” in “Christians who battle each other for power” or who “don’t care for their own children?” Christians pray the Lord’s Prayer and do so together – saying “our” even when they pray alone – because they know the effort required to truly believe and to try again each day to demonstrate their belief, the pope said. “That is why it is so beautiful to pray together, because we help each other to try.” In addition to the television program, Pope Francis’ conversation with Father Pozza will be published as a book, which will be released in Italian in late November. In the preface, the pope writes that Jesus gave his disciples the Lord’s Prayer not simply as a formula for addressing God, but also so they would learn how to live as God’s children and as brothers and sisters to one another. “Jesus shows us what it means to be loved by the Father and reveals to us that the Father wants to pour out on us the same love that from eternity he has had for his son,” the pope said. Don’t Rush Through Silence at Mass, Pope says at General Audience By Junno Arocho Esteve Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY – The silence that precedes the opening prayer at Mass is an opportunity for Christians to com- mend to God the fate of the church and the world, Pope Francis said. Departing from his prepared text at his weekly general audience Jan. 10, the pope urged priests “to observe this brief silence and not hurry.” “I recommend this to the priests. Without this silence, we risk neglect- ing the reflection of the soul,” he said. Continuing his series of audience talks on the Mass, Pope Francis spoke about the Gloria and the opening prayer. After the encounter between “hu- man misery and divine mercy” experi- enced in the penitential rite, the faithful are invited to sing the ancient hymn of praise that was sung by the angels after Christ’s birth, the pope said. “The feelings of praise that run through the hymn,” he said, “are inter- twined with the confident pleading of divine benevolence” that characterizes the entire liturgy and “establishes an opening of earth to heaven.” After the hymn, the priest invites the assembly to pray and observes a moment of silence so that the faithful may be conscious of the fact that they are in God’s presence and formulate their petitions, the pope explained. This silence, he said, is not just an absence of words but a time to listen “to other voices: that of our heart and, above all, the voice of the Holy Spirit.” “Perhaps we come from days of toil, of joy, of sorrow and we want to tell the Lord, to invoke his help, to ask that he be near us; we have family members and friends who are ill or who are go- ing through difficult trials,” the pope said. The priest’s posture – with hands outstretched in supplication – is also an important sign as it is an imitation of Christ with his arms open on the cross, the pope said. “In the crucifix, we recognize the priest who offers pleasing worship to God; that is, filial obedience,” he said. Pope Francis said that pondering the prayers and gestures, which are “rich in meaning,” Christians can make “many beautiful meditations” that can benefit their spiritual lives.   “To go back and meditate on the texts, even outside of Mass, can help us to learn how to turn to God, what to ask, which words to use,” the pope said. “May the liturgy become for all of us a true school of prayer.”