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Prayer adapted from Catholics Confront Global Poverty by USCCB
Almighty eternal God, source of all compassion,
the promise of your mercy and saving help fills our hearts with hope.
Hear the cries of the people of Syria;
bring healing to those suffering from the violence,
and comfort to those mourning the dead.
Empower and encourage Syria’s neighbors
in their care and welcome for refugees.
Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
and strengthen the resolve of those committed to peace.
O God of hope and Father of mercy,
your Holy Spirit inspires us to look beyond ourselves and our own needs.
Inspire leaders to choose peace over violence
and to seek reconciliation with enemies.
Inspire the Church around the world with compassion for the people of Syria,
and fill us with hope for a future of peace built on justice for…
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VATICAN CITY — Whether you plan on following tomorrow’s Prayer for Peace vigil on TV, online or in person in St. Peter’s Square, a schedule of Saturday’s events will come in handy. As well as the official liturgical booklet.
Here is a breakdown of what will be happening and when:
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The official Christian delegates included Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, Archbishop Norvan Zakaryan of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Secretary General Olav Fyske Tveit of the World Council of Churches.
In all, there were representatives of the Orthodox Churches from the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Moscow, Serbia, Romania, and the Ukrainian, Belarusian, Cypriot, Polish and Albanian churches. The Oriental Orthodox were represented by the Syrian Patriarchate of Antioch, the Armenian Apostolic Church (both Catholicossates) and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. The Assyrian Church of the East was represented by the Metropolitan of India, the bishop of California and a priest.
The Anglican Communion, the Old Catholic Church, Lutheran World Federation, World Communion of Reformed Churches, the World Methodist Council, the Baptist World Alliance, World Convention of the Churches of Christ, the Mennonite World Conference, the World Evangelical Alliance, and the World Council of Churches were all represented, along with the Church of Scotland, the Disciples of Christ, the Salvation Army, and the classical Pentecostal churches.
176 representatives of non-Christian religions were present, including Reform and Orthodox Judaism; Sunni, Shi’a, Alawite and Ismaili Muslims; Hinduism (including Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of the Mahatma); Jainism; Zoroastrianism; Buddhism (including Shaolin, Zen, Tibetan, Theravada, Tendai, Jogye, Jodo-Shu, and other forms); Confucianism; Taoism; Shinto; Mandaean (Gnostics); Sikh; Baha’i; traditional African, American, and Indian Religions; and “new religions” such as Tenrikyo, Ennokyo, and Myochi-kai.
Four “non-believers” were invited, a first, emphasizing Pope Benedict’s interest in the New Evanglization and his effort to engage secularism and religion on a level of common interest in the quest for truth. These included Julia Kristeva, Bulgarian-French psychoanalyst; Guillermo Hurtado, the Mexican philosopher; Walter Baier, a politician from Austria; and Remo Bodei an Italian professor of Aesthetic and philosophy.
The doxology is the last line of the Lord’s Prayer, “For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.” It is, to be more precise, an ancient prayer traditionally added on to the Lord’s Prayer (as found in Matthew, normally), and a version of it dates back to the beginning of the 2nd century – meaning some Catholics, at least, were praying it this way more than 1300 years before it became “the Protestant version”. Or one might just say it is one other way in which Catholic tradition has been kept better outside the Catholic communion. In any case…
The reason Catholics have become used to the Our Father without the doxology is liturgical – when we pray the Lord’s Prayer during the Eucharistic liturgy, we pause between the end of the Prayer proper and the doxology to allow the priests’ embolism, “Deliver us Lord, from every evil…” Even though we pray the doxology every Sunday, we are habituated to stopping after “…deliver us from evil”, such that when we are taken out of the Sunday liturgy, we continue to stop.
In fact, however, the embolism is only part of the Eucharist, and is not part of other liturgies, such as the Liturgy of the Hours. In those times, we should pray the entire prayer, with the doxology, even when it is not an ecumenical prayer service. If we do this regularly, it will seem less uncomfortable when we do get to a mixed liturgical setting, and be better hosts to the other Christians who rarely omit this last line of the prayer.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has its origins in the Church Unity Octave, started in 1908 by the founders of an Anglican religious order, the Franciscan Society of the Atonement. The dates were chosen to run the week from the Feast of the Chair of Peter (18 January) to the Feast of the Conversion of Paul (25 January).
18 January was in fact one of two Feasts of the Chair of Peter on the Tridentine calendar, the other being 22 February. Some distinguished these as the Chair of Peter in Rome and the Chair of Peter in Antioch, though it is not clear that that was the original intent of the two dates. Since 1960, only the later date has been celebrated in the Roman calendar as the feast of the Chair of Peter, but the dates for the Week of Prayer remain the same.
(As an interesting aside, with the resurgence of interest in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, since Pope Benedict’s 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum allowing more widespread use of the 1962 missal, some liturgical traditionalists observe the January feast date. However, this appears to be incorrect, as the 1962 missal was produced after the change to the calendar mentioned above.)
The original octave focused on Anglican-Catholic reunion, and the themes as approved by Pope Pius X were a great example of what is now known as the “ecumenism of return” – which was common in the post-Vatican I period at the beginning of the last century (and which some fear is making a resurgence in these days… but more on that in a later post).
In fact, even before the Church Unity Octave was established by Father Paul Watson, SA, and Mother Lurana White, SA, there were calls for a time of prayer for Christian Unity. The Lambeth Conference, the decennial synod of the world’s Anglican bishops, in 1878 called for a period of prayer for unity around the feast of the Ascension. In 1895 Pope Leo XIII agreed, establishing a novena for Christian Unity from Ascension to Pentecost.
Since 1935, the Church Unity Octave began to expand to a more comprehensive Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, including prayer for the unity of all Christians. By 1957, there was quasi-official participation in the planning for the worldwide celebrations by a Catholic organization from Lyons, and in 1966 the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity officially became a joint project of the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches. The materials used throughout the world have been prepared each year by a Joint Working Group of the Faith and Order Commission of the WCC and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Additionally, a local ecumenical community prepares the theme and symbols for the Week of Prayer, and this year’s local planners were the churches of Jerusalem. The theme chosen for 2011 is: “One in the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer” (cf. Acts 2:42).
Each day of the Week has a different theme:
- 18 January: The Church in Jerusalem.
- 19 January: Many Members in One Body.
- 20 January: Devotion to the Apostles’ Teaching Unites Us.
- 21 January: Sharing, an Expression of Our Unity.
- 22 January: Breaking the Bread in Hope.
- 23 January: Empowered to Action in Prayer.
- 24 January: Living in Resurrection Faith.
- 25 January: Called for the Service of Reconciliation.
Compare that to the themes of the original Church Unity Octave, as approved by Pope Pius X just one century ago, to see “development in continuity” in practice for the Catholic Church’s teaching on the ecumenical movement. Unity is still the goal, in obedience to Christ and for the sake of the Church’s mission, but our understanding of this constant truth has clearly matured!
Note, not only the the marked difference in tone, but also the inclusion of prayer for the Jews both then and today, except that now it is on a day preceding the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Note also the distinction between European Protestants and American Christians.
Church Unity Octave daily themes (c.1911)
- 18 January: The Union of all Christians in the one true faith and in the Church
- 19 January: The Return of separated Eastern Christians to communion with the Holy See
- 20 January: The Reconciliation of Anglicans with the Holy See
- 21 January: The Reconciliation of European Protestants with the Holy See
- 22 January: That American Christians become one in union with the Chair of Peter
- 23 January: The Restoration of lapsed Catholics to the sacramental life of the Church
- 24 January: That the Jewish people come into their inheritance in Jesus Christ
- 25 January: The missionary extension of Christ’s kingdom throughout the world