“Our divisions are a monstrous act of disobedience.” Fr. Bernard de Margerie pulled no punches as he delivered a heartfelt plea to a room full of fellow Catholics from various parishes around Metro Vancouver. The priest from the Diocese of Saskatoon was leading Christian Unity: What’s at Stake? February 13 at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in New Westminster.
Recalling the momentous decisions made during Vatican II (1962 – 1965) – “the most solemn Catholic teaching of the 20th century” – he pointed out that with the Decree on Ecumenism the Catholic Church made an “irrevocable” commitment to ecumenism: “The Catholic Church is committed to it.”
Fr. de Margerie said: “For 50 years I have been trying to get people to say the word ‘ecumenism’ without stuttering . . . it’s not a bad word.” To that end, he has, with the help of the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism, just published In God’s Reconciling Grace: Prayer and Reflection Texts for Christian Reconciliation and Unity. The book is offered free of charge to all churches and to all Christians across denominational lines.
Fr. de Margerie was good enough to give me permission to post some or all of the 33 prayer texts which make up Part One of the book. The following brief introduction and the first prayer text are excerpted from the book.
These short texts may be used in different ways: they may be added to morning or evening prayer, or at the end of a scripture reading and meditation. The may be used after communion, at eucharist, or again during a time of silence in a liturgy of the word.
The Prayer of Christ
Source: Jesus prayed: “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:20-21
Reflection: The prayer of Christ, our one Lord, Redeemer and Master, speaks to every one in the same way, both in the East and in the West. The prayer becomes an imperative to leave behind our divisions in order to seek and re-establish unity, as a result also of the bitter experiences of division itself. (John Paul II: On Commitment to Ecumenism, n. 65b)
Question: How do I care for Christian unity?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to make my own, your prayer for the unity of your followers – and let this prayer be costly to me. Amen. May be repeated several times during the day.
Reflect . . . pray . . .
The audience at St. Peter’s was very receptive to Fr. de Margerie’s message. As well, those I spoke with were very welcoming to an evangelical brother; I came away with a renewed sense of hope for the unity of the church.
In God’s Reconciling Grace is offered free of charge to all churches and Christians. To inquire about obtaining free copies of the book, contact Fr. Bernard de Margerie at email@example.com or 306.651.7051.