Thursday, January 28, 2016
Romans 12: 9-13, Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor…Be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Meditation: What Does God Want Me to Do?—
Discerning God’s Will
“I can’t do everything. What does God want me to do?” Do we ever ask ourselves questions like this, especially when we realize that we are coming to a fork in the road of life?
In the ecumenical movement, we are continually asking ourselves what God wants us to do. How are we to proceed on the way toward unity?
In classic Christian terms we are talking about matters of personal and communal discernment.
When Christian communities engage in formal dialogues, we pray together, we learn from one another, we weigh arguments, and we look for the interior peace and joy that are signs of the Spirit. We may be tempted to take a vote, to engage in a political process or to save time. But instead we work patiently and humbly together in God’s time to follow the Spirit’s guidance in our judgments.
In personal discernment we do much the same. We look prayerfully at classic criteria for discernment, such as the external realities affecting the decision and the intern movements of the Spirit, often with the help of our spiritual friends. We are listening for God’s will for our lives. Our dream is ‘to give everything to God.’
Heavenly Father, grant us humility to hear your voice, to receive your call, and to share your dream for the unity of the Church. Help us to be awake to the pain of disunity. Where division has left us with hearts of stone, may the fire of your Holy Spirit inflame our hearts and inspire us with the vision of being one in Christ, as he is one with you, so that the world may believe that you have sent Him. This we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen
Day 7 (January 24), Hospitality for Prayer
- 1 Peter 4:7b-10, Be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers.
Most of us today have a family member or two who is from another Christian tradition. Most often this member is in an ‘Interchurch Marriage.’
When I read “discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers,” I think of interchurch couples I know. Their ‘ecumenical marriages’ (over 20% of all Catholic marriages) are matters of practical ecumenism at the grassroots level.
Interchurch couples have certain challenges and opportunities in their relationship that call for regular prayer and discernment. There is a strong tendency among such couples to ‘take the path of least resistance,’ to ignore their religious differences, and to lessen the daily practices of Christian faith. This can make for a shallow relationship.
The key here is the discipline of praying together. This is the positive foundation for discussing the differences that inevitably arise. Successful couples pray together, decide together, and work together for the good of others.
They have the discipline to go deeper on the spiritual journey. Often they seek out the company of other interchurch couples. They are wise enough to know that they can learn from others. They realize too that all differences need not be resolved.
Interchurch couples often bring their wisdom to the church community. Those of us in the ecumenical movement can learn much from listening to these practical ecumenists.
Lord Jesus, you asked your apostles to stay awake with you and to pray with you. May we offer the world protected times and spaces in which to find refreshment and peace, so that praying together with other Christians we may come to know you more deeply. Amen.
Friday, January 22, 2016
Day 5 (January 22), The Fellowship of the Apostles
John 13:34-35, I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.
Meditation—A loving community with a variety of backgrounds and dispositions
The community the Apostles and our own communities are rooted in love. We enrich our communal life by contributing the many good gifts God has given us. We also bring our idiosyncrasies and weaknesses to our common life. The Christian community is a community of humans. We learn to love one another with all our strengths and our weaknesses. This takes some practice and some prayer!
Today we celebrate the March for Life here in Washington. Becoming part of the Pro-life movement is learning to love each and every person. This includes the child in the womb, his or her mother and father, and our opponents. Jesus’ command of love for neighbor includes everyone.
In our ecumenical relationships with our Protestant and Orthodox brothers and sisters we care for one another despite our disagreements. In fact God can work through them for us. Years ago, two friends who are Episcopalians took me to lunch. They suggested that I apply for an ecumenical position. After some discernment [more on this tomorrow] I did apply and was chosen. Thus many years later I am writing these short reflections. God sometimes works in unexpected, surprising and even humorous ways.
God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may you give to all Christians, and especially to those entrusted with leadership in your Church, the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that with the eyes of our hearts we may see the hope to which you have called us: one body and one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above and through all and in all. Amen.
Father John Crossin, OSFS is executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He tweets @crossinusccb.