Sunday, January 17, 2010
The Tragedy We Face Daily In Christianity
On Monday the 18th we will begin the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Last year we celebrated the first hundred years of its inauguration. The Octave will conclude on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul on the 25th of January. The 'how' and 'when' of unity depends on God, the 'why ' we know, the desire and efforts depend on us.
Last year Cardinal Nicholas Cheong of Seoul said in celebrating the Octave: "I feel inexpressible happiness at this moment. Now we recognize each other as brothers and sisters, confessing the same Christ...We can have different clothes and different ways of worshipping our God. However, our God, whom we praise with one voice , and the Gospel cannot be separate."
The Church in Korea is taking Ecumenism seriously. The bishop in charge is showing great concern to work with others in getting rid of distrust and prejudice among Christians and to work together in witnessing to the Gospel. The bishop wants us to stress the positive and work together in the common mission we have from Christ, which is more important than all that separates us.
My feelings are that the bishops are more concerned in this area of ecumenism than are those in the parishes, priests and lay people. Last year the Korean Christian representatives had the responsibility of composing the prayers that were to be used during the Unity Octave throughout the Christian world.
At the end of last year the different Christian representatives, Protestant, Orthodox and Catholics went on a pilgrimage of unity. They had an audience with the Pope and shared their concerns with Cardinal Kasper, who is in charge of matters to do with ecumenism in the church.
From there they went to England and talked with the Anglicans, the Salvation Army and Methodists. The bishop said they learned a great deal but what was most important was the feeling they were relating with each other as brothers in Christ.
The whole area of ecumenicism is fraught with all kinds of difficulties and misunderstandings. It seems like an impossible dream. The problems within the different Christian communities are not just little squabbles but areas of great concern, life and death issues.This is probably the areas we will have to work with, if we are to see any progress in becoming one in a larger context.