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Posts Tagged ‘Christian Unity’

Unity of Pentecost Overcomes Division and Emnity

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2014/06/06 at 12:00 AM

A few years ago, now Pope Emeritus

Benedict XVI focused his homily on an essential aspect of the mystery of Pentecost which, he said, is particularly important in our own times. “Pentecost is the feast of union, of human understanding and communion. Yet it is evident to everyone that in our world, although are closer to one another than ever before thanks to the development of the communications media, … understanding and communion among people is often superficial and difficult. Imbalances remain and not infrequently lead to conflict; dialogue among generations is problematic; … we daily witness events which seem to show that mankind is becoming more aggressive and quarrelsome; understanding one another seems too arduous an undertaking, and we prefer to remain within ourselves and focus on our own our interests”.”Thanks to scientific and technological progress we have acquired the power to dominate the forces of nature, to manipulate the elements, to fabricate living beings, almost going so far as to fabricate human beings. In such a situation praying to God seems outmoded and useless, because we ourselves can construct and achieve anything we want”. Yet “men are nursing a sense of diffidence, suspicion and reciprocal fear, to the extent that they have even become a danger to one another”. We have greater power to communicate but, paradoxically, we understand one another less.Harmony and unity “can only come with the gift of God’s Spirit, which will give us a new heart and a new voice, a new ability to communicate. This is what happened at Pentecost. That morning … the Holy Spirit descended on the gathering of the disciples. It rested upon each of them and set the divine fire alight within them, a fire of love with the power to transform. Their fear disappeared, in their hearts they felt a new strength, their tongues were loosened and they began to speak frankly so that everyone could understand the announcement of Jesus Christ, Who died and rose again.At Pentecost division and estrangement gave way to unity and understanding”.In today’s Gospel Jesus, “speaking of the Holy Spirit, tells us what the Church is and how she must live in order to be … a place of unity and communion in the Truth. He tells us that acting as Christians means not remaining closed in one’s own self but being open to all things; it means welcoming the entire Church into our own lives or, better still, allowing her to welcome us in our hearts. … Thus the Holt Spirit, the Spirit of unity and truth, can continue to resound in the hearts and minds of men, encouraging them to meet and accept one another”.

The Holy Spirit leads us to understand the truth, which is Jesus,”but only if we are able to listen and to share, only in the ‘us’ of the Church and with an attitude of profound inner humility. … When men wish to set themselves up as God, they only succeed in setting themselves against one other. On the other hand, when they abide in the truth of the Lord, they open themselves to the action of His spirit which sustains and unites them”.

St. Paul tells us that the life of man is marked by an inner conflict between the impulses of the flesh and those of the spirit. The former are “the sins of selfishness and violence, such as enmity, discord, jealousy and dissension. … They can lead us to lose our lives. However, the Holy Spirit guides us to the pinnacle of God so that, already in this life, we may experience the seed of divine live which is within us. St. Paul says, in fact, that ‘the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy and peace'”.

In conclusion, the Pope exhorted the faithful to live “according to the Spirit of unity and truth. To this end we must pray that the Spirit may illuminate us, guiding us to overcome the lure of our own truths and to accept the truth of Christ, as transmitted by the Church”.

 

THE POPE: “WE MUST RENEW THE SOUL OF OUR INSTITUTIONS”

Vatican City, 26 May 2012 (VIS) – “We must form people’s consciences in the light of the Word of God, whence all plans of the Church and of men draw meaning and strength, also as regards the construction of the earthly city. We must renew the soul of our institutions and make history fertile with the seeds of new life”. Benedict XVI pronounced these words this morning in St. Peter’s Square where he received thousands of members of the Renewal in the Holy Spirit Association,which is celebrating the fortieth anniversary of its foundation in Italy.

The Pope expressed the view that “in modern society we are experiencing a situation which is in some ways precarious, characterised by insecurity and the fragmentary nature of decisions. Often there is a lack of points of reference from which to draw inspiration for our lives. It is, then, increasingly important to construct the edifice of life and social relationships on the stable rock of the Word of God”.

Today, the Holy Father said, believers are called to show a “convincing, sincere and credible witness of faith, one closely united to charitable commitment, It is, in fact, through charity, that people far removed from and indifferent to the the message of the Gospel are able to approach the truth and to become converted to the merciful love of the heavenly Father”.

Pope Benedict also dedicated his attention to the work of the Renewal in the Holy Spirit Association over recent decades. “Your apostolic efforts have contributed to the development of spiritual life in the Italian ecclesial and social fabric through paths of conversion which have helped many people to be profoundly healed by the love of God, and many families to overcome moments of crisis”, he said. “Your groups have not been lacking in young people ready to respond generously to the vocation of special consecration to God in the priesthood and in the religious life”. The Holy Father also underlined the movement’s support for people in situations of need and marginalisation, especially in the field of the spiritual and material rebirth of prisoners.

The Pope concluded by exhorting those present: “Never cease to look to heaven; the world has need of prayer. We need men and women who feel the draw of heaven in their lives, who make praising the Lord the basis of a new lifestyle. Be joyous Christians! I entrust you all to Mary Most Holy, who was present in the Upper Room at the moment of Pentecost”.

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How Can We Have Unity Among Christians If As Catholics We Are Not United?

In Uncategorized on 2013/10/17 at 12:00 AM

 Pope Francis dedicated his catechesis to the expression “of the body” that the Second Vatican Council used to indicate the nature of the Church: the Church is the body of Christ. The Pope recalled the text of the conversion of Saul, who became Paul, in order to explain how the Apostle, with that experience, tells us how profound the union between Christians and Christ is.

“The image of the body helps us to understand this deep bond between Church and Christ, which St. Paul particularly developed,” the Pope said. “The Church … is a living body … and this body has a head, Jesus, who guides, nourishes, and sustains it. … [But], the same way that in a body it is important that the lifeblood courses for it to live, so must we allow Jesus to work in us, so that his Word might guide us, his Eucharistic presence might nourish and inspire us, and so that his love might give strength to our love for our neighbour.”

“In the Church, therefore,” the pontiff continued, “there is a variety, a diversity of tasks and functions. There is no dull uniformity but the richness of the gifts that the Holy Spirit distributes. There is communion and unity: all are in relation to one another and all combine to form a single vital body, profoundly connected to Christ. Let us remember this well: being part of the Church means being united to Christ and receiving from him the divine life that makes us to live as Christians. It means remaining united to the Pope and bishops who are instruments of unity and communion and it also means learning to overcome selfishness and divisions, to understand one another better, and to harmonize the variety and richness of each one. In a word, loving God and the persons around us, in our families, parishes, and associations, better. Body and limbs must be united in order to live!”

Speaking extemporaneously, the Holy Father added: “Unity is always greater than conflict. Conflicts, if they aren’t resolved well, separate us from one another, separate us from God. Conflict can help us grow but it can also divide us. Let’s not take the path of division and struggle between one another. All united, all united with our differences but always united: this is Jesus’ path.”

“How much damage is caused to the Church by divisions among Christians, by being apart, by narrow interests! The divisions among us,” he continued, “but also the divisions between the communities: evangelical Christians, Orthodox Christians, Catholic Christians, why are we divided? We must try to bring unity. … We must pray together as Catholics and also with other Christians, must pray that the Lord grant us unity, unity between us. But how will we have unity among Christians if we aren’t capable of having it among us Catholics? Of having it in our family? How many families fight and are divided! Seek unity, the unity that makes the Church. Unity comes from Jesus Christ. He sends us the Holy Spirit to create unity.”

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The Aim of Ecumenism Is the Unity of Divided Christians

In 07 Observations on 2013/03/13 at 12:00 AM

The close ties between the work of evangelisation and the need to overcome the divisions that still exist between Christians was the central theme of the Holy Father to the members and consultors of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity on the occasion of their plenary assembly dedicated to “The importance of ecumenism in new evangelisation”.

The Pope stated, “We cannot follow a truly ecumenical path while ignoring the crisis of faith affecting vast areas of the world, including those where the proclamation of the Gospel was first accepted and where Christian life has flourished for centuries. On the other hand, we cannot ignore the many signs indicating a persistent need for spirituality, which is made manifest in various ways. The spiritual poverty of many of our contemporaries, who no longer perceive the absence of God in their lives as a form of deprivation, poses a challenge to all Christians”.

In this context, the Pope added, “we, believers in Christ, are called upon to return to the essential, to the heart of our faith, to bear witness to the living God before the world. … We must not forget what it is that unites us: our faith in God the Father and Creator, revealed in His Son Jesus Christ, effusing the Spirit which revives and sanctifies. This is the faith we received in Baptism and it is the faith that, in hope and charity, we can profess together.

“In the light of the primacy of faith we may also understand the importance of the theological dialogues and conversations in which the Catholic Church is engaged with Churches and ecclesial communities. Even when we cannot discern the possibility of re-establishing full communion in the near future, such dialogue facilitates our awareness, not only of resistance and obstacles, but also of the richness of experience, spiritual life and theological reflection, which become a stimulus for ever deeper testimony”.

Benedict XVI emphasised that the aim of ecumenism is “visible unity between divided Christians”. To this end, we must “dedicate all our forces, but we must also recognise that, in the final analysis, this unity is a gift from God, and may come to us only from the Father through His Son, because the Church is His Church. From this perspective we see, not only the importance of invoking the Lord for visible unity, but also how striving after this end is relevant to the new evangelisation.

“It is good to journey together towards this objective, provided that the Churches and ecclesial communities do not stop along the way, accepting the various contradictions between them as normal or as the best they can hope to achieve. It is, rather, in the full communion of faith, Sacraments and ministry that the strength of God, present and working in the world, will find concrete expression”.

The Pope concluded, “Unity is on the one hand the fruit of faith and, on the other, a means – almost a prerequisite – for an increasingly credible proclamation of the faith to those who do not yet know the Saviour or who, while having received the proclamation of the Gospel, have almost forgotten this valuable gift. True ecumenism, recognising the primacy of divine action, demands above all patience, humility, and abandonment to the will of the Lord. In the final analysis, ecumenism and new evangelisation both require the dynamism of conversion, understood as the sincere desire to follow Christ and to fully adhere to the will of the Father”.

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