Here is a recent joint statement on Christian Unity issued in Europe - perhaps worth our consideration on this side of "the pond": Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, The love of Christ compels us (2 Corinthians 5:14)! Great truth is contained in this short verse from Saint Paul’s letter to the Corinthians that inspired this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The history of Christianity in Europe is marked by sorrowful periods of division, mutual condemnation, and even violence. As a number of churches prepare to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation, we are reminded anew of our difficult past. Recalling these events and confronting our history is a precious opportunity to renew our commitment to the healing of wounds and overcoming divisions. We turn to Christ, who reconciles all people and all creation to God, to guide us in this work. In humble gratitude for this gift, we work for reconciliation through both word and deed. Today, we must also celebrate how we have grown in learning to work together and cultivating meaningful theological dialogue. The Council of European Bishops’ Conference and the Conference of European Churches have enjoyed 45 years of collaboration through its Joint Committee, and on other issues of common concern. Also the shared suffering and joy of the world brings us together. Our solidarity with Roma people, our commitment to ecological justice, and prayers for unity within the Body of Christ is strengthened through this relationship. The multiple crises facing Europe and its neighbours bind us still more closely together. War and conflict, political uncertainty, migration and ecological challenges, material and spiritual poverty touch all lives in Europe and beyond. Along with these crises comes hope. Together we can bear witness to the reconciling love of Christ through the safeguarding of Creation, solidarity with the poor, and protecting the dignity of all God’s people. Through dialogue we will deepen our understanding of one another. Through common witness and action we will build bridges. Through prayer we will learn to recognise the Holy Spirit at work. The way forward can not always be clear or easy, but we always recall in our heart the truth that “the love of Christ compels us.”
What should one do when things are dark …. Pope Francis says to hope and hold on…. According to Vatican Radio, during his morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta today, Pope Francis expressed this as he urged Christians to be courageously anchored in hope, and never just ‘still.’ Francis drew his inspiration from today’s Letter to the Hebrews, which spoke about having courage to go forward and how this ought to be our attitude toward life, just like the attitude of those who train for victory in the arena. No Living in the Fridge The Letter, the Pope also pointed out, also speaks of the laziness,the opposite of courage, which Francis summarized as: “Living in the fridge, so that everything stays the same” Saying the life of a Christian is a “courageous life,” Francis criticized “Lazy Christians” who do not have the will to go forward, make things change and be new. “They are lazy, “parked” Christians: they have found in the Church a good place to park,” Francis said, noting when he says Christians, he is also talking about laity, priests, bishops, “everyone.” “But there are also parked Christians! For them, the Church is a parking place that protects life, and they go forward with all the insurance possible. But these stationary Christians, they make me think of something the grandparents told us as children: beware of still water, that which doesn’t flow, it is the first to go bad.” Hope, Francis continued, is what makes Christians courageous, while those who are lazy are “in retirement.” No Life of Retirement “It is beautiful to go into retirement after many years of work, but, he warned, “spending your whole life in retirement is ugly!” Hope, on the other hand, is the anchor that we cling to in order to keep fighting, even in difficult moments. “Hope is struggling, holding onto the rope, in order to arrive there. In the struggle of everyday, hope is a virtue of horizons, not of closure! Perhaps it is the virtue that is least understood, but it is the strongest. Hope: living in hope, living on hope, always looking forward with courage. Hold on ‘Yes, Father – anyone of you might say to me – but there are ugly moments, where everything seems dark, what should I do?’ Hold onto the rope, and endure.” Francis said that it’s normal to make mistakes, so fear of erring shouldn’t deter us from ‘moving.’ Pope Francis concluded, inviting us to ask ourselves if we are closed Christians, or Christians of the horizons; and if in ugly moments we are capable of enduring, with the knowledge that hope does not disappoint “because I know that God does not disappoint.” “Let us ask ourselves the question: How am I? How is my life of faith? Is it a life of horizons, of hope, of courage, of going forward; or a lukewarm life that doesn’t even know to endure ugly moments?” “May the Lord give us this grace,” Francis said, to overcome our selfishness, and raise our heads to Him to move forward.
The following is a reflection of Archbishop of New York, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, entitled ‘Gifts From God.’ Published on January 9th, it is from Cardinal Dolan’s blog available on his website: *** Gifts from God With Sunday’s feast of the Epiphany, the Christmas season is over. I spent a chunk of our snowy weekend going through my Christmas cards. Why this has not dawned on me before, I don’t know . . . but, about 90% of those cards were about babies and kids! Pictures of families with young children; good news of babies born the past year; updates on children and grandchildren. Christmas is all about kids. As you’ve heard me mention before, at the center of all history, when B.C. becomes A.D., is a mother and her infant, in a stable in Bethlehem. Anthropologists tell us that a characteristic of all primitive people is that all of life is organized naturally to protect the children. How we treat our babies and children; how we promote marriage, which has as one of its major purposes the procreation of children; how we protect the family, where babies and children are nurtured and raised, really defines civilization. The Church has always been in the front lines of sustaining marriage, family, babies, and children. Early commentators on the Church, most of whom wanted it crushed, had to grudgingly admit that Christians stood out for believing that marriage was sacred, that women deserved respect, and that babies were gifts from God. Yes, Christmas is now over. Just a couple weeks ago, families gathered in unity around a tree and tenderly watched their kids excited over gifts. Moms and dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles enjoyed it more than the wee ones. All of us thought, “This is how it should always be.” No wonder God the Father sent His Son, our Lord and Savior, as a baby.
Some of my High School Classmates have been sending this bit of inspiration to each other - amazing how we feel having graduated over 50 years ago. You might find it thoughtprovoking - and there are more like it at whatwillmater.com or at charactercounts.org--- enjoy
This is a modest effort at a "blog" my attempt to offer some brief reflections each day that come from various sources that I find interesting - primarily the daily reflections of Pope Francis as found on Zenit and Rome Reports. Fr. John