This week, we begin the week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It will end on Sunday 27th of January.
During this Year of Faith, we are remembering the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. I spent the summer months re-reading the documents of Vatican II to prepare me for preaching during this year. One document I found far more interesting than I expected was unitatis redintegratio – “Decree on Ecumenism”
What I found most interesting about this document was the focus on interior conversion. The document states:
“There can be no ecumenism worthy of the name without a change of heart. For it is from renewal of the inner life of our minds, from self-denial and an unstinted love that desires of unity take their rise and develop in a mature way. We should therefore pray to the Holy Spirit for the grace to be genuinely self-denying, humble. gentle in the service of others, and to have an attitude of brotherly generosity towards them.”
– Unitatis Redintegratio, 7.
The source of all division is sin – pride, selfishness and stubbornness. “Peace” is a fruit of the Holy Spirit – dissension is a fruit of the “flesh” (Galatians 5:19-23). For us to discover unity, we must convert ourselves!
The council Fathers, despite encouraging Catholics to be involved in Ecumenical dialogue, state that “their primary duty is to make a careful and honest appraisal of whatever needs to be done or renewed in the Catholic household itself, in order that its life may bear witness more clearly and faithfully to the teachings and institutions which have come to it from Christ through the Apostles” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 4).
It would not be unfair to state that there is much disunity among Catholics – quarrels, divisions, factions and jealousy. If we are to witness to our “separated” brothers and sisters – we need to act like brothers and sisters ourselves. During this week, let us reflect on our own lives, convert our hearts and live more fully the unity Christ desired for His Church.