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Christian Unity #8004 01/20/03 08:26 AM
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Francisco Offline OP
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From Last Saturday, January 18, and till January 25, at least in Europe, we are celebrating the Week (Octavarium) of prayer for the unity of all the Christians. Different ecclesiastical communities and denominations (the Catholic Church and several Orthodox Churches included) call their members to pray these days for the unity of all Christians and to take part in different ecumenical celebrations. I will like to ask the members of this forum how are they taking part in the Octavarium and about their opinion about the ecumenical celebrations that take place during these days. What says the patristic tradition about praying with hereticals and schismatics? Have not usually these ecumenical celebrations (from the liturgical point of view) a quite strong protestant character? What is the reason of being of these celebrations and how can they help the separated Christian to restore the unity of the Church? Are they just expressions of good-will between Christian of different denominations? Is the Octavarium celebrated in your parish in any way?
Yours in Christ

Re: Christian Unity #8005 01/20/03 09:04 AM
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Francisco

I will kick this one into play by saying that our Parish of Holy Cross [ RC] two weeks ago hosted a meeting of the five local churches Protestant and Catholic to discuss an ecumenical service.

This is held each year in a different Church in the area and members of all Churches take part - readings, prayers, an address etc etc.

We have good co-operation between tne Churches and the Service is well attended, and we have a short tea/coffee session afterwards.

I think one of the most valuable things has been the informal gathering afterwards. Two years ago Holy Cross hosted the Service for the first time. Afterwards many of our Protestant neighbours told us it was the first time they had seen the inside of a Catholic Church and indeed since then many have come to share our Services on 'special'occasions such as Midnight Mass and our Mass for Peace at midnight at New Year.

As a result of this meeting and others like it , it has been decided that the various churches in the area will hold more joint 'Witness' services in the future - though the organisation is not easy as all recognise that timing is important - Holy Week was considered - Good Friday in particular, but when the Protestant Churches heard how deeply we were involved they said that this was a non starter - our own traditions must be recognised and nothing was to be done that would detract from them . We are now looking towards Pentecost for the next joint service.

Re: Christian Unity #8006 01/20/03 01:30 PM
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Francisco Offline OP
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Dear Our Lady’s slave of love,

Thank you very much for sharing with all of us the extremely interesting and fruitful ecumenical experiences of your parish, specially with our Protestants brothers of the (Calvinist) Church of Scotland. Being a friend of the Royal Scots College in Spain, the seminary of the Catholic Church is Spain, I know very well how much the Scottish Catholic clergy and laity are interested in developing good relationships with their Protestant neighbours and in the religious progress of all the Scottish people. Thank you very much.

Yours in Christ

Re: Christian Unity #8007 01/20/03 02:22 PM
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traveler Offline
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Unity of the churches is absolutely essential to the long-term and successful evangelization of Muslims. I planned to write more, but I won't.

Please pray for my cousin and two of my friends whom I believed were committed to the straight path--the way of Christ--but have reverted to Islam, partly due to the incessant internecine warfare between various Christian sects.

Please pray for: Yasmina, Elias, and Mehmet, and their wives and children, some 18 or 19 souls, I believe.

BTW: During the weekend MLK celebrations in my city, the Muslim evangelists were out in full force on the streets, distributing Islamic material. preaching, and offering hot soup and bread and refreshments to those in need, most of them
African-Americans.

I have to give them credit: When the chips are down and there are souls to be won, the Muslims--flesh of my flesh--speak with one voice. Non-essentials are forgotten. Realistically, this will never be said of Christians. Why dream for what will never be?

Abdur

Re: Christian Unity #8008 01/20/03 02:32 PM
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Dear Abdur,

I join you in your prayers for your friends. May they be gifted with faith in Jesus, Who is our Saving Lord.

I admire your work in what must be a most difficult work. I thank you for undertaking it.

The simple fact that God has called you to do it is clearly a sign that He values what you are doing.

I understand that our prideful infighting where there should be clear expressions of Love in our Church lives is a deterent to faith. May the Lord guide us to behave as though we believe what we believe.

May He gift us with the wisdom to know that He will do it when He chooses to do it. Until then, I think that all we can do is work as though that time is now.

Steve

Re: Christian Unity #8009 01/20/03 03:58 PM
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Three Cents Offline
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Dear Abdur:

The situation in the Balkans is very dear to my heart. Of course, in Bosnia and Albania you have the phenomenon of Islam, Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism existing side by side (of course, with all that implies).

The not always Christian relationship between Orthodoxy and Catholicism has definately been a hindrance to the Gospel of Christ. Of course, political considerations by outside forces leading to things such as Muslims playing off Catholics against Orthodox (particularly in Bosnia, where if there was a restoration of the Cup, the unified Church would definately form a statistical majority) exist, as you are most acutely aware. It is also quite sad that where you have Muslims, Orthodox and Catholics together, the fighting can be the bloodiest there is (not only in the Balkans, but we shouldn't forget the Lebanese Civil War, either).

Thank you for sharing your feelings and prayer needs with us, it is both humbling and assuring in the power of prayer. The Muslims and Mixed Family members that I know that were baptized are some of the finest Christians that I have ever met. Their intrafamily pastoral problems are far more intense than mine (coming from a mixed Orthodox/Catholic situation). A salaam d'ulluh a je mi a coom. May the Peace of God be with you all!

Humbly in Christ (and in prayer),

Three Cents (Stephen (Stefan) Sherokey)

Re: Christian Unity #8010 01/20/03 09:15 PM
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Francisco:

I think we have to remember that actually being a heretic or schismatic is a matter of active choice. Most of those in the various Christian Churches--Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant--were born there. I don't believe that we can truly classify each other with these very harsh terms.

Now, if I were Orthodox and I went out of my way to denounce the Orthodox Church, her doctrine, customs, and sacraments in favor of another community, then I might be a heretic. I might be a schismatic if I were to go further and leave for this same other community. The same can be said of Catholics of whatever sui juris church.

I believe that we are called to remember that within any family there will be disagreements. On the other hand, we also have to remember that we are still family and have to treat each other as such. At some level we are all still united by our Baptism and our participation in the Liturgy that each Apostolic community serves each time it gathers. God alone knows how but I am convinced after years of study and meditation that it must be so since we cannot divide the Holy Trinity, even when each of us is convinced that God is on our side alone.

Now, having said this, I want everyone to be clear that I am not advocating mushy doctrine or relativism. I am talking about how we put our faith into practice--where the Lord calls us to love one another. I may not agree with everyone on every point of doctrine, but I certainly don't want to be the one to walk by and let someone else pick up a wounded brother (referring to the Parable of the Good Samaritan). I've encouraged lots of people to be believers and am a great believer in letting the Holy Spirit work and letting the Lord make up what He sees is lacking in another (economia).

BOB

Re: Christian Unity #8011 01/20/03 10:40 PM
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Axios Offline
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The Council of Churches here, of which the OCA diocese is a member sponsor several events, all which are very worthwhile. The local Episcopal Church also invites us over.

Axios

Re: Christian Unity #8012 01/21/03 12:29 PM
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Francisco Offline OP
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Dear Theophan,

When I used the words "heretic" and "schismatic" I was speking from a theoretical point of view (my question was exactly "What says the patristic tradition about praying with hereticals and schismatics?") I try not to use such expression when talking about the members of other Christian communities prefering expressions like "Orthodox brothers" and "Protestant brothers".

Re: Christian Unity #8013 01/21/03 10:01 PM
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theophan Offline
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Francisco, my brother:

I understand what you are saying. Too often when we read the Fathers we fail to remember the circumstances under which they used these terms.

The Fathers often were in tough situations in which the danger was very real that the truth would be lost if they did not take strong stands. They rightly advised their flocks at the time to stay away from those who taught false doctrines. To pray with someone often means that you agree with them and by association one can scandalize one who understands less about the faith. The Fathers also wanted to stress that religious indifferentism is a very real danger to the soul. We've got a lot of that today--the idea that every brand of religion or none is equal and that we will all get to Heaven whether we believe or not. Not long ago I addressed this topic at our confirmation class--high school juniors--and let them know that they will not get a chance to meet Hitler, Stalin, and Mao unless there was a death-bed conversion of which we are not aware.

Today, though, we do need to work on the prayer of Jesus "that all may be one." Pope John Paul II even wrote an encyclical letter Ut Unum Sint to stress the urgency of this.

I pray for the day when we may all gather as one family and celebrate the Divine Life of grace we experience in the Liturgy. I have even read of the Eucharistic Congresses that the Catholic Church has held to stress this. Can you imagine the day when we could spend a week or so celebrating together? One day in the Armenian tradition, the next day in the Byzantine, then Syriac, then Latin, then Coptic, then . . .

Pray with me for that day.

BOB

Re: Christian Unity #8014 01/22/03 02:04 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by Three Cents:
Dear Abdur:

The situation in the Balkans is very dear to my heart. Of course, in Bosnia and Albania you have the phenomenon of Islam, Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism existing side by side (of course, with all that implies).

The not always Christian relationship between Orthodoxy and Catholicism has definately been a hindrance to the Gospel of Christ. Of course, political considerations by outside forces leading to things such as Muslims playing off Catholics against Orthodox (particularly in Bosnia, where if there was a restoration of the Cup, the unified Church would definately form a statistical majority) exist, as you are most acutely aware. It is also quite sad that where you have Muslims, Orthodox and Catholics together, the fighting can be the bloodiest there is (not only in the Balkans, but we shouldn't forget the Lebanese Civil War, either).

Thank you for sharing your feelings and prayer needs with us, it is both humbling and assuring in the power of prayer. The Muslims and Mixed Family members that I know that were baptized are some of the finest Christians that I have ever met. Their intrafamily pastoral problems are far more intense than mine (coming from a mixed Orthodox/Catholic situation). A salaam d'ulluh a je mi a coom. May the Peace of God be with you all!

Humbly in Christ (and in prayer),

Three Cents (Stephen (Stefan) Sherokey)
Thank you.

Islam is very protean here and our local Muslim communities are far ahead of us in the ratio of converts, i.e., many more Christians convert to Islam than Muslims convert to Christianity. I can't blame my cousin or friends for reverting to Islam and we will always be family, no matter the circumstances.

To turn one's back on Islam is a very difficult task; maybe, in the long run and for the vast majority of souls, an impossible task.

Salam,

Abdur Islamovic


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