Dear Friends of Loyola Institute:
Christian Unity Week, established in the 1930s by the Graymoor Franciscan Friars, occurs January 18-25. The theme for this year is "Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power," taken from the book of Exodus 15:6.
An unmistakable, biblical motif is God's unrelenting determination to form a people whom He could call His own. God initiates a sacred covenant with his people for their salvation and for the glorification of His name. The prophets repeatedly remind Israel that their covenant should be characterized by justice, compassion and mercy, made possible by reconciliation, namely repentance and the healing of memories.
These themes for Church Unity Week are central to the tripartite mission of the Loyola Institute for Spirituality: transformation, formation, and discipleship. But frankly we have not taken much ecumenical leadership. It's true, thankfully, that many Protestants have taken part in our programs; they are drawn, like so many Catholics are, to the gentle invitation and dynamic transformation offered by embracing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.
What seems to be missing is a more explicit space for ecumenical dialogue and for fostering the exchange of gifts that each of our Churches has to offer. Wouldn't, for instance, a course comparing Wesleyan spirituality and Ignatian spirituality be an opportunity for enriching both and for stretching LIS?
As Jesus prepared to seal the new covenant in His own blood, he earnestly prayed that "all might be one" (Jn 17:21). Let us make our prayer that we might be a reconciling community that serves as an effective sign of how to live in justice and peace for all the people of the earth. May we be active agents of reconciliation.
Some suggestions for Church Unity Week:
- Include prayers for reconciliation and unity in the liturgy.
- Attend an ecumenical service for Christian Unity in your own area.
- Attend a Sunday Service in a church of another tradition in your area.
Fr. Patrick Howell, S.J.