Our universal prayer for Christian Unity – Fr. Joe

On Wednesday afternoon, around the time that President Joe Biden was addressing the
nation from the steps of the Capitol building on the topic of national unity, we were
gathered in the Carmelite Convent praying for Christian Unity. The programme of prayer
for this week was drawn up by a community of religious women, of the Reformed
tradition, in Switzerland.
The words these wise women choose for the prayers were truly beautiful. They spoke of
beginnings, “Touched by his love, we set out. In this encounter, we walk a path of
transformation-the bright beginning of a relationship of love that is always started
anew.” Of maturing in faith “It is through prayer, by listening to the Word, in sharing with
others, by putting into practice what we have understood, that the inner being is
strengthened.” Of unity, “If we pray with Christians of other traditions, we may be
surprised to be united by a bond of friendship that comes from the One who is beyond
all divisions.” Of the Word, “If we open our hearts, God speaks to us and patiently
transforms that which is dying in us.” Our relations with others, “Sometimes something
as small as a kind look, an open ear, or our presence is enough to make a person feel
welcome.” And reconciliation, “When nature suffers, when human beings are crushed,
the Spirit of the risen Christ invites us to become part of his work of healing.”
I know the words that rang out from Washington got a lot of attention, which was well
deserved, but the wisdom of these women is worth listening too as well. Undoubtedly a
highlight of my week, bringing solace in the midst of the painful listening to those
affected by Covid 19, by the Mother and Baby Homes Report, by the struggle of families
with children with special needs. Thank you to the Carmelite Sisters, who from the
serenity of their enclosure opened us all the universal prayer for Christian Unity.