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Feb 24
New Documentary - World Youth Day Krakow: A Pilgrimage of Mercy

World Youth Day Krakow: A Pilgrimage of Mercy is a documentary produced by the Knights of Columbus. It airs Sunday, February 26 at 9 p.m., Wednesday, March 1 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 9 at 8 p.m. on Salt + Light Television. Below, Fr. Jonathan Kalisch, O.P., Director of Chaplains and Spiritual Development for the Knights of Columbus and Executive Producer of the Mercy Centre at World Youth Day Krakow shares his experience of World Youth Day 2016 and how its message and spirit was captured in this film.   

1. Tell us about the Mercy Centre at Tauron Arena in Poland. What was its mission and purpose within the greater context of the World Youth Day festivities?

The Mercy Centre at the Tauron Arena in Krakow served as the international English-language catechesis and youth festival site during the Krakow World Youth Days drawing over 100,000 pilgrims from around the world.

Highlights included catechesis and Mass offered by Cardinals O'Malley (Boston), Tagle (Manila) and Dolan (New York); the opportunity to venerate the first-class relics of Saints John Paul II, Faustina, Bro. Albert Chmielowski, Maximilian Kolbe, and Bl. Jerszy Popieluszko; School of Mercy lunchtime breakout sessions; a panel on the Persecuted Church; and the Night of Mercy with a Eucharistic Procession around the arena, preaching by Bishop Robert Barron, and music by Matt Maher and Audrey Assad.

The experience of Krakow as the city of saints meant that pilgrims, walking on the same streets and praying in the same churches where a young Karol Wojtyla walked and prayed, would be reminded of the gift of mercy that is the purpose or vocation of one's life. Following Pope Francis' invitation to "be protagonists of mercy and service," the mission of the Mercy Centre was that pilgrims would come to know the Mercy of God - as revealed on the Cross and witnessed to by the saints of Poland – and therefore make a sincere gift of self and live in true freedom as a disciple of Christ. This witness and testimony was given in word, song, and performance at the Mercy Centre by priests, religious, married couples and young adults.

2. What was your role at the Mercy Centre and how did you get involved?

After graduating from college, I spent a year living and working in Poland. I encountered God's merciful invitation to become a Dominican priest while praying at the tombs of the saints of Krakow as a 23 year-old. Later, as a college chaplain, I led student pilgrimages to Krakow in the footsteps of Saint John Paul II. In hindsight, it seems providential that I was asked to serve as the Executive Director overseeing the partnership and collaboration of the Knights of Columbus with the Sisters of Life, Salt + Light Media and over twenty other organizations. Cardinal Dziwisz (Archbishop Emeritus of Krakow) invited the Knights of Columbus to organize the Mercy Centre due to our past efforts in running similar efforts at WYD Sydney and Madrid, and because of the presence of the K of C in Poland, where we have over 4,000 members.


Fr. Jonathan Kalisch, O.P. (center) with Cardinal Tagle and friends at the Mercy Centre, Krakow.

3. What was the most powerful or beautiful moment for you during the events that took place at the Mercy Centre this summer?

We wanted to highlight the witness of the suffering church in the Middle East. Many people advised us that there would not be sufficient interest on the part of young people to showcase the plight of our persecuted brothers and sisters from the main stage of the Tauron Arena. However, as seen in the documentary, when the panel on religious freedom began from the main stage, just after Pope Francis' plane had landed in Poland, the Mercy Centre was packed. When the moderator introduced Archbishop Bashar Warda of Irbil, Iraq, he was given a standing ovation by over 15,000 youth who were present to hear his witness.

On another occasion, a young woman who was a refugee from Iraq shared her testimony of overcoming persecution and learning to forgive through her own encounter with mercy. When she prays the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, she has been given the ability to say: "have mercy on ISIS, and on the whole world."

Finally, during the Night of Mercy, Bishop Robert Barron preached about the power of the cross to overcome evil, violence, and hatred through love. After the Eucharistic procession, and as Matt Maher led the gathered pilgrims in a concert of joy, a young woman waving an Iraqi flag handed me a card that read: "We are N and we are praying for you."

4. Why do you think it's important to capture the spirit of the Mercy Centre in video as was achieved in World Youth Day Krakow: A Pilgrimage of Mercy?

All important events are worthy of preservation. World Youth Day Krakow was the largest single gathering of the Body of Christ during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. It took place on the same streets and churches where the history of the twentieth century left an indelible mark. John Paul II in his last book, Memory and Identity, wrote that Divine Mercy is God's answer to the evils of the Auschwitz concentration camp and the horrors of Soviet communism. "The limit to evil is Divine Mercy."

For over two million young adults who attended World Youth Day, the first part of their pilgrimage was coming to Krakow to encounter the Lord of Mercy and verify His truth in their lives. Pope Francis reminded us in Krakow, that: "When Jesus touches a young person's heart, he or she becomes capable of truly great things." We are talking not just about an important event but about a breakthrough, of groundbreaking moments – that give their lives new meaning and dimension - for almost everyone who was present in Krakow during these days.

Our goal as organizers, was to prepare a spiritual space or sphere of freedom – so that each pilgrim could find answers to the most important questions in their lives. The second part of any pilgrimage is the return during which the pilgrim is called to testify to what she/he saw and witnessed, and to verify the presence of the encounter with Mercy to those who could not go or who prayed and supported them. Our documentary World Youth Day Krakow: A Pilgrimage of Mercy is one way for pilgrims to share the fruits of their personal encounter in Krakow with others.

5. Who should watch this documentary?

Everyone can be inspired by this documentary, because as Pope Francis said, "Mercy always has a youthful face!" Those pilgrims who had the opportunity to be at World Youth Day now receive a postcard from the past, a great souvenir - not in the form of a photographic image, which can collect dust on a shelf - but rather in the form of a digital notepad with experiences and the teachings of mercy, fraternity, and community.

Besides showing the pilgrim experience, we also showcase the message that Pope Francis and the Church wanted the world to learn about in Krakow, including solidarity with the persecuted church, forgiveness, the Night of Mercy, and the power of the Cross.

The documentary is great for viewing by youth and young adult groups. For those who were not in Krakow or perhaps have never participated in World Youth Day, they will see the phenomenon of millions of youth witnessing their love Christ and His Church. We do not realize on a daily basis how large the young Church is, and our documentary is evidence that the Church is alive with hope for the future.


Fr. Jonathan Kalisch, O.P. with World Youth Day pilgrims in Poland, summer 2016.

6. What is your greatest hope for those who visited the Mercy Centre or who benefitted from its events through video?

To know that they are not alone. John Paul II's first visit to Poland in 1979 sparked the nonviolent solidarity revolution that led to the eventual overthrow of communism by the simple fact that people who were held under oppression could look around and see how many thousands of people believed in God and wanted something more. They could be counted. He later founded the World Youth Days to inspire solidarity among the youth of the Church against the prevailing sense of moral relativism, indifferentism, and the spirit of the world. At the Campus Misericordiae in Krakow, Pope Francis similarly challenged the young people "to trade in the sofa for a pair of walking shoes and…to blaze trails that open up new horizons capable of spreading joy."

We have heard from many pilgrims whose lives have been transformed by WYD and the Mercy Centre. It is our hope that those who watch the film will be open to the graces of mercy that the pilgrims received, and that God who loves to exceed our expectations, will surprise all of us! So we invite the viewers to join us on a spiritual pilgrimage to Krakow. And to be open to the new dimensions of mercy it may open in their lives.

7. What is your experience of mercy and why do you think young people today should seek Divine Mercy?

Mercy is the greatest gift of God – and by gift we must underline that it can never be earned, never 'deserved' - but is freely given by God to all who humbly seek it. It also costs. We must never forget that the 'price' of mercy was the life of the Son of God. And therefore it can never be possessed but always must be freely given away.  As a priest, there is no more humbling moment than to say the words of sacramental absolution, giving the eternal gift of freedom from sin, all the while being a sinner oneself. To know that God Himself will not ask the penitent about the sins she/he has confessed at their final judgment is truly stunning.

Yet, mercy remains a dimension which our world continuously needs. We do not always realize this, but at times we fail to 'use' mercy. I mean not only that we are not merciful, do not show mercy, but also that we sometimes do not accept mercy from God or others. Sometimes young people suffer for a long time, even though God has already forgiven them through the sacrament of confession. Many young people are wounded and refuse to believe that they are worthy of God's love and His mercy. That's why we can never cease to proclaim the message of hope that mercy is always available, and as our Lord Jesus said to St. Faustina, that an "inestimable treasure of grace" awaits all those who simply seek out this gift of mercy in the sacraments. We must speak of His infinite love for each of us and of the sensitive gaze, which He has for me even when I fall. It is a reality that awaits every person. And this is precisely the good news of salvation which must be proclaimed to the world.


Fr. Jonathan Kalisch, O.P. and Fr. John Rozembajgier at WYD Poland

Feb 14
Losing Your Head in Love: Celebrating St. Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day: the holiday that tries to warm our hearts in the middle of frigid February. With it comes a feel-good message of love and a lot of heart-shaped sugary treats. And, of course, Cupid sporting his signature diaper and quiver of arrows.



Popular Valentine's Day imagery. Image from here.

Celebrating the Feast of St. Valentine has become more about chocolate and rhyming Hallmark greetings than was originally intended. How did the martyr St. Valentine become a match-making stereotype? We did some digging to find out more about this saint, whose feast has fallen victim to a somewhat misguided societal interpretation.

Alas, it seems his life is primarily one of mystery. Perhaps that is why he became associated with love and its often mysterious nature?

Not quite.

It appears St. Valentine is in fact a “composite character” of two saints of the same name. Some accounts say he was a Roman priest martyred around 270 A.D. for refusing to renounce his faith. At the time, Christians were persecuted under the rule of Claudius II. St. Valentine was imprisoned after being caught marrying Christian couples. He was even gutsy enough to try and convert the emperor. His efforts were not well received – he was beaten with clubs and stoned for his efforts. He somehow survived, so was promptly beheaded. 

Not exactly the romantic roots one would expect to be at the “heart” of Valentine’s Day.

Another account suggests St. Valentine was the Bishop of Terni, Italy. While under house arrest, he healed the blind daughter of Judge Asterius, who then converted along with a significant number of his friends and family. Upon gaining his freedom, he tried to evangelize the emperor Claudius. Similar to the previous account, his attempt earned him a gruesome execution.


St. Valentine was known for standing up for the rights of Christian prisoners. Image from here.

Based on the first account, there is an obvious link between St. Valentine and Christian marriage. But perhaps more significant is the common thread in both stories: a love for God so strong that St. Valentine was willing to risk his life to make that love known to his friends, his family and some of the most influential leaders of his day.

The story of St. Valentine’s life points to the significance of love and its centrality in Christian life. His story is a powerful account of the sacrifice that can be required in love. It reminds us that the Christian walk requires much courage and at times involves persecution.

Similarly, our relationships with one another require loving sacrifice: parents tend to the never-ending needs of young children; spouses faithfully support one another throughout sickness and health; and friends and siblings lovingly call one another to be the best versions of themselves.

St. Valentine’s life encourages us to pursue a true and more Christ-like love—a love that endures through long-term struggle and beyond romance or warm feelings.

So while you’re stocking up on roses, cards and treats in heart-shaped boxes, don’t forget to ask for the intercession of St. Valentine. May his life inspire you to love without counting the cost.


St. Valentine, pray for us! Image from here.

Marlena Loughheed is a communications coordinator with the Archdiocese of Toronto's Office of Public Relations and Communications.

Feb 02
Retrouvaille: Hope and Healing for Broken Marriages

Retrouvaille is an international community of disciples committed to the continued healing of their marriages and, empowered by the Holy Spirit, sharing their stories, talents and gifts to promote and spread the healing ministry of Retrouvaille. Below, Jason and Dielle Robb share how the program impacted their marriage and their family.


What attracted you to Retrouvaille? How did you hear about it?

The Retrouvaille program was a light in the darkest time of our marriage. We had passed through the stages of romance and disillusionment and were deep in misery. We had heard about Retrouvaille from our then parish priest, Father Paul Dobson, after we had approached him to help save our crumbling marriage.

How did participation impact your marriage? Any surprises?

We had no idea what lay before us when attending the weekend. The part that impacted us the most deeply was hearing from the presenters. They were couples who made it through very tough times and had managed to stop hurting each other and work on bettering their marriage. They shared their own experiences, they spoke from the heart with raw emotion and recounted the pain they had suffered. We could hear parts of our own story in theirs and hear our pain reflected in their voices. The amount of work expected of us was significant and it took a long time to heal. But when we were told we would never be alone, that we would forever be a part of a community that supports and cares for its members and they were rooting for our marriage to succeed, it was overwhelming. It allowed us to see beyond our feelings of pain and isolation and know that we didn't have to struggle alone.

Our involvement in Retrouvaille has also strengthened our relationship with God, as we have come to know that God wants us to love each other as He loves us. We can never match the perfect love that God has for us, but He asks that we try. We have come to know that God is part of our marriage and when things seem overwhelming, God is there to give us strength and grace to help us to continue to grow in love.

What is the benefit of journeying with other couples? What have you learned from them?

The Retrouvaille ministry is one of peers. Whether you have just started on the path to rebuilding your marriage or have been journeying for years, we come together to share our experiences so that we can gain an insight into ourselves and how we are called to grow. We make this journey together, encouraging one another to stay on this path. We are supported by the honesty and desire of the other couples to make their marriage a living sacrament. It is so wonderful to have a group of people who come together in one united purpose, to give support and encouragement so that each of our marriages can succeed and be strengthened.

What made you decide to move from participants to leaders in your ministry?

We decided to share our story as weekend presenters so that we could take all the pain we had lived through and share those experiences in the hopes it could help others. It gave extra meaning to the suffering we had endured. Those couples who shared their stories when we attended our weekend gave so much of themselves to help us, how could we not do the same? The healing we gain from sharing our story with other hurting couples through Retrouvaille is tremendous. Allowing them in to experience where we were and how far we've come is an amazing gift of healing for ourselves and we hope it demonstrates to those hurting couples that they can rebuild with God's help.

Any tips or advice for married couples as we celebrate Marriage Sunday? 

Don't give up! No matter how long you've suffered or what you've suffered, there is hope. You can heal those hurts with time, effort and a commitment to prioritize your marriage. We cannot promise an easy ride, but we can tell you from our own experience that it is possible to rebuild this most precious and beautiful sacrament, if you decide to do so. It won't just improve your lives, but it will make a tremendous difference in the lives of your children, your extended family and your community.

The Archdiocese of Toronto celebrates Marriage Sunday the weekend of February11/12, 2017. For more information and resources, visit www.archtoronto.org/marriage.

Jan 25
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Day 8: Reconciled to God

Scripture

2 Corinthians 5:20 Reconciled to God
​Micah 4:1-5 In the last days justice will reign
Psalm 87 Glorious things are spoken of God
Revelation 21:1-5a God will make a new heaven and a new earth
John 20:11-18 Meeting the risen Christ leads to personal mission

Commentary

What if? What if the prophecies in the Bible actually came true? If the wars between people stopped and if life-giving things were to be made out of the weapons of war? What if God's justice and peace reigned, a peace which was more than simply the absence of war? If all of humanity came together for a celebration in which not a single person was marginalized? What if there really was no more mourning, no more tears, and no more death? It would be the culmination of the reconciliation that God brought about in Jesus Christ. It would be heaven!

Psalms, canticles, and hymns sing of the day when the whole perfected creation finally arrives at its goal, the day when God will be "all in all". They tell about the Christian hope for the fulfilment of God´s reign, when suffering will be transformed into joy. On that day, the Church will be revealed in her beauty and grace as the one body of Christ. Wherever we gather in the Spirit to sing together about the fulfilment of God's promises, the heavens break open and we begin here and now to dance to the melody of eternity.

As we can already experience this presence of heaven, let us celebrate together. We may be inspired to share images, poems and songs from our particular traditions. These materials can open up spaces for us to experience our common faith in and hope for God's Kingdom.

Questions

  • How do you envision heaven?
  • Which songs, stories, poems, and pictures from your tradition give you the feeling of participating in the reality of God´s eternity?

Prayer

Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, 
we thank you for this week of prayer, 
for being together as Christians 
and for the different ways 
we have experienced your presence. 
Let us always praise your holy name together 
so that we may continue to grow in unity and reconciliation. Amen. 

or:

Lamb of God, the heavens adore you, 
the saints and angels sing before you 
with harp and cymbals' clearest tone. 
Of one pearl each shining portal, 
where, joining with the choir immortal, 
we gather round your radiant throne. 
No eye has seen that light, 
no ear the echoed might 
of your glory; 
yet there shall we in victory 
sing shouts of joy eternally!

[German: "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme," author: Philipp Nicolai (1599); English: "Wake, awake, the night is flying" (third stanza), translated by Catherine Winkworth]

Resource from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Jan 24
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Day 7: The ministry of reconciliation

Scripture

2 Corinthians 5:18-19 The ministry of reconciliation
​​Genesis 50:15-21 Joseph is reconciled with his brothers
Psalm 72 God's kingdom brings righteousness and peace
1 John 3:16b-21 God's love compels us to love one another
John 17:20-26 Jesus prays for the unity of his church

Commentary

Reconciliation between God and human beings is the key reality of our Christian faith. Paul was convinced that the love of Christ compels us to bring God's reconciliation to bear in all aspects of our life. Today this leads us to examine our consciences in relation to our divisions. As the story of Joseph demonstrates, God always gives the grace needed for the healing of broken relationships.

The great reformers such as Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin, as well as many who remained Catholics, such as Ignatius of Loyola, Francis de Sales and Charles Borromeo, sought to bring about renewal in the Western church. However, what should have been a story of God's grace was also marred by human sinfulness and became a story of the rending of the unity of God's people. Compounded by sin and warfare, mutual hostility and suspicion deepened over the centuries.

The ministry of reconciliation includes the work of overcoming divisions within Christianity. Today, many Christian churches work together in mutual trust and respect. One positive example of ecumenical reconciliation is the dialogue between the Lutheran World Federation and the Mennonite World Conference. After the dialogue results were published in the document "Healing Memories: Reconciling in Christ", the two organizations held a penitential service together in 2010 followed by further reconciliation services throughout Germany and in many other countries.

Questions

  • Where do we see the need for a ministry of reconciliation in our context?
  • How are we responding to this need?

Prayer

God of all goodness, we give you thanks 
for reconciling us and the whole world 
to yourself in Christ. 
Empower us, our congregations and our churches 
in ministries of reconciliation. 
Heal our hearts and help us 
to spread your peace. 
"Where there is hatred, let us sow love; 
where there is injury, pardon; 
where there is doubt, faith; 
where there is despair, hope; 
where there is darkness, light; 
where there is sadness, joy". 
We pray in the name of Christ Jesus, 
by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Resource from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Jan 23
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Day 6: God reconciled us to himself

Scripture

2 Corinthians 5:18 God reconciled us to himself
Genesis 17:1-8 God makes a covenant with Abraham
Psalm 98 The world has seen the victory of God
Romans 5:6-11 God reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ
Luke 2:8-14 Proclamation of the good news

Commentary

Reconciliation has two sides: it is fascinating and terrifying at the same time. It draws us in so that we desire it: within ourselves, with one another, and between our different confessional traditions. We see the price and it scares us. For reconciliation means renouncing our desire for power and recognition. In Christ God graciously reconciles us to himself even though we have turned away from him. God's action goes beyond even this: God reconciles not only humanity, but the whole of creation to himself.

In the Old Testament God was faithful and merciful to the people of Israel, with whom he established a covenant. This covenant remains: "the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable" (Rom 11:29). Jesus, who inaugurated the new covenant in his blood, was a son of Israel. Too often in history our churches have failed to honor this. After the Holocaust, it is the distinctive task of the German churches to combat antisemitism. Similarly all churches are called to bring forth reconciliation in their communities and resist all forms of human discrimination, for we are all part of God's covenant.

Questions

  • How do we as Christian communities understand being part of God's covenant?
  • What forms of discrimination do our churches need to address today in our societies?

Prayer

Merciful God, out of love 
you made a covenant with your people. 
Empower us to resist 
all forms of discrimination. 
Let the gift of your loving covenant 
fill us with joy and inspire us to greater unity. 
Through Jesus Christ, our risen Lord, 
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit 
now and forever. Amen.

Resource from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Jan 22
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Day 5: Everything has become new

Scripture

2 Corinthians 5:17 Everything has become new
​Ezekiel 36:25-27 Receiving a new heart from God
Psalm 126 Being filled with joy
Colossians 3:9-17 Being renewed in Christ
John 3:1-8 Being born in the Spirit

Commentary

Paul encountered Christ, the risen Lord, and became a renewed person—just as everyone does who believes in Christ. This new creation is not visible to the naked eye. Instead it is a reality of faith. God lives in us by the power of the Holy Spirit and lets us share in the life of the Trinity.

By this act of new creation, the Fall is overcome and we are brought into a saving relationship with God. Truly amazing things can be said about us: as Paul said, in Christ we are a new creation; in his resurrection death is overcome; no person or thing can snatch us out of the hand of God; we are one in Christ and he lives in us; in Christ we are "a kingdom and priests" (Rev 5:10) as we give thanks to him for overcoming death and we proclaim the promise of the new creation.

This new life becomes visible when we allow it to take shape and live it out in "compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." It must also become apparent in our ecumenical relationships. A common conviction in many churches is that the more we are in Christ, the closer we are to each other. Especially on this 500th anniversary of the Reformation, we are reminded of both the achievements and tragedies of our history. The love of Christ compels us to live as renewed beings in actively seeking unity and reconciliation.

Questions

  • What helps me to recognize that I am a new creation in Christ?
  • What are the steps I need to take to live out my new life in Christ?
  • What are the ecumenical implications of being a new creation?

Prayer

Triune God, you reveal yourself to us 
as Father and creator, as Son and Saviour, 
and as Spirit and giver of life, 
and yet you are one.  
You break through 
our human boundaries and renew us. 
Give us a new heart to overcome 
all that endangers our unity in you. 
We pray in the name of Christ Jesus, 
by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Resource from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Jan 21
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Day 4: Everything old has passed away

Scripture

2 Corinthians 5:17 Everything old has passed away
Genesis 19:15-26 Don't look back
Psalm 77: 5-15 God is always faithful
Philippians 3: 7-14 Forgetting what lies behind
Luke 9:57-62 Keep your hand on the plough

Commentary

We often live out of the past. Looking back can be helpful, and is often necessary for the healing of memories. It can also paralyze us and prevent us from living in the present. Paul's message here is liberating: "everything old has passed away".

The Bible encourages us to keep the past in mind, to draw strength from our memories, and to remember what good God has done. However, it also asks us to leave the old, even what was good, in order to follow Christ and live a new life in him.

During this year, the work of Martin Luther and other reformers is being commemorated by many Christians. The Reformation changed much in the life of the Western Church. Many Christians showed heroic witness and many were renewed in their Christian lives. At the same time, as scripture shows, it is important not to be limited by what happened in the past, but rather to allow the Holy Spirit to open us to a new future in which division is overcome and God's people is made whole.

Questions

  • What could we learn by reading together the history of our divisions and mutual mistrust?
  • What must change in my church so that divisions can be overcome and that which unites can be strengthened?

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ,
the same, yesterday, today and for ever.
Heal the wounds of our past,
bless our pilgrimage towards unity today 
and guide us into your future,
when you will be all in all,
with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
for ever and ever. Amen.

Resource from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Jan 20
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Day 3: We regard no one from a human point of view

Scripture

2 Corinthians 5:16 We regard no one from a human point of view
1 Samuel 16:1. 6-7 The Lord looks not at outward appearances but at the heart
Psalm 19:7-13 The commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes
Acts 9:1-19 Saul becomes Paul
Matthew 5:1-12 The Beatitudes

Commentary

Encountering Christ turns everything upside down. Paul had that experience on the road to Damascus. For the first time he could see Jesus for who he really was: the Saviour of the world. His point of view was changed completely. He had to lay his human, worldly judgment aside.

Encountering Christ changes our perspective as well. Nevertheless, we often linger in the past and judge according to human standards. We make claims or do things "in the name of the Lord" that in reality may be self-serving. Throughout history, in Germany and in many other countries, both rulers and the churches themselves have misused their power and influence to pursue unjust political goals.

Transformed by their encounter with Christ, in 1741, the Christians of the Moravian Church (Herrnhuter) answered the call to regard no-one from a human point of view by choosing to 'submit to Christ's Rule'. In submitting ourselves to the rule of Christ today, we are called to see others as God sees them, without mistrust or prejudice.

Questions

  • Where can I identify Damascus experiences in my life?
  • What changes when we view other Christians or people of other faiths as God views them?

Prayer

Triune God, you are the origin and goal of all living things.
Forgive us when we only think of ourselves 
and are blinded by our own standards. 
Open our hearts and our eyes.
Teach us to be loving, accepting and gracious,
so that we may grow in the unity which is your gift.
To you be honour and praise, now and for ever. Amen.

 Resource from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Jan 19
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Day 2: Live no longer for themselves

Scripture

2 Corinthians 5:15 Live no longer for themselves
Micah 6:6-8 God has told you what is good
Psalm 25:1-5 God of my salvation, show me your ways
1 John 4:19-21 We love because God first loved us
Matthew 16:24-26 Those who lose their life for my sake will find it

Commentary

Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have been freed from the need to create our own meaning and from living only out of our own strength. Rather, we live in the life-giving power of Christ, who lived, died, and rose again for us. When we 'lose' our life for his sake, we gain it.

The prophets were constantly faced with questions concerning the right way to live before God. The prophet Micah found a very clear answer to this question: "To do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God." The author of Psalm 25 knew that we cannot do this by ourselves and cried out to God for guidance and strength. 

In recent years, social isolation and increasing loneliness have become important issues in Germany as in many contemporary societies. Christians are called to develop new forms of community life in which we share our means of livelihood with others and nurture support between generations. The Gospel call to live not for ourselves but for Christ is also a call to reach out to others and to break down the barriers of isolation.

Questions

  • How does our culture tempt us to live only for ourselves rather than for others?
  • In what ways can we live for others in our daily life?
  • What are the ecumenical implications of the call to live no longer for ourselves?

Prayer

God our Father, 
in Jesus Christ you have freed us for a life that goes beyond ourselves.
Guide us with your Spirit
and help us to orient our lives as sisters and brothers in Christ, 
who lived, suffered, died and rose again for us,
and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Resource from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

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