ARGENTINA, by Mónica Franco •
The Week for Church Unity was celebrated for the first time in 1908. And the first celebration of the Week of Prayer in Australia, using texts prepared by a local ecumenical group, took place in 1975. This new way of writing the texts has been maintained until now.
The Week with prayers for each day is celebrated in different Christian churches. On Wednesday, May 27, the Santuario del Centro [Central Shrine] was once again the headquarters for this celebration as it has been since 2010; brotherhood was experienced in the midst of a very welcoming and family atmosphere.
At the conclusion of SOUC 2015 (Week of Prayer for Christian Unity), Pope Francis reminded them, “Jesus is patient, respectful of the person before him. His example encourages us to seek a serene encounter with others. To understand one another, and to grow in charity and truth.” (1)
He also encouraged us to pray for “the gift of full communion between all Christians, so that ‘the sacred mystery of the unity of the Church’ (Unitatis Redintegratio, 2) may shine forth as the sign and the instrument of reconciliation for the whole world.” (2)
Thus we already begin to experience unity. Unity grows along the way; it never stands still. Unity happens when we walk together.
Give me to drink
Using Jesus’ words, “Give me a drink,” (John 4:7) Brazil’s churches prepared this as the theme for this year.
At this celebration, a table was prepared; as a symbol, it had a candle close to the Bible, an empty jar, representing Jacob’s well, was placed upon colored pieces of fabric.
The Shrine’s youth choir began the gathering with a song. The ministers representing each church entered in procession leading to the table; they carried jars of different colors full of water in their hands.
As they passed the “well,” each one of the representatives of the participating churches slowly poured the water from his jar into the pitcher. As they poured the water from the jar, every participating community and the name of the ministry was announced.
After the prayers offered by each minister, the pastor of the United Lutheran Church proclaimed the Gospel, and then Father Manuel López Naón, a Schoenstatt Father, presented the homily.
In the John 4 text, Jesus was a foreigner who had arrived tired and thirsty. He needed help, and he asked for water. But she was also thirsty. They meet, and this encounter offers both of them an unexpected opportunity. When we recognize that we have reciprocal needs, a complementarity moment takes place in our lives in a very enriching manner. Differences and rivalries are forgotten and an encounter occurs.
The encounter of Jesus and the Samaritan woman invites us to taste the water of a well that was different and to also offer a little of ours. We enrich ourselves mutually in diversity. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity constitutes a privileged occasion for prayer, encounter, and dialogue. It is an opportunity to recognize the richness and the values that are present in the other, the different one, and to pray to God for the gift of unity.
“Give me a drink” implies an ethical action that recognizes the need that we have for one another to live the mission of the Church. It obliges us to change our attitude, to commit ourselves to seek unity in the midst of our diversity with an openness to a variety of ways to pray and of Christian spirituality.
Donation of solidarity
The choir once again accompanied the assembly during the meditation.
After praying the Creed and prayers of intercession that were offered by each of the ministers, they took a collection of money that was placed in a moneybox; the collection was destined for those from Córdoba who were affected by the last floods.
The offerings were presented to the community placing the moneybox close to the water jar. They prayed the Our Father. After the sign of peace, all the ministers carried out the blessing and the sending forth.
Original: Spanish. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA