“We are called to pray, so that all Christians will become one family again, to witness together love for Christ”: this is what Fr. Anthony Currer, official of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, says in a conversation with Agenzia Fides, on the occasion of the opening of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (18-25 January), an international ecumenical prayer initiative, celebrated all over the world, jointly promoted by the Ecumenical Council of Churches, for Protestants and Orthodox, and by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, for Catholics.
The Prayer was first established in 1908 as a time when Christian faiths pray together for the achievement of the full unity of the Church. Each year it takes place in the northern hemisphere between 18 and 25 January, while in the southern hemisphere on other dates, for example during Pentecost.
The texts proposed to Christians around the world for 2020 are the result of a project carried out by the Churches of Malta and Gozo, which focuses on the tragedy of migrants and on the theme of reception.
“The theme for the week of prayer this year – reports Fr. Currer – is ‘They showed us unsusual kindness’ and draws inspiration from the episode narrated in the final chapter of the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 28, 2) in which Saint Paul and the men who are with him on the ship after a terrible storm, manage to save themselves and are generously rescued by the inhabitants of the island of Malta”.
“This episode – explains the reverend – re-proposes the drama of humanity: the passengers of the boat are at the mercy of the violent sea and the mighty storm that rages around them. They are forces that push them towards unknown landing places, and they feel lost. Divine Providence – he continues – unites them, however, in the hope of salvation. The ship and all its precious cargo will be lost, but all will have their lives saved”.
Therefore, the people on the same ship reach the same destination, where the hospitality of the islanders reveals the unity of mankind.
“In our search for unity – notes Fr. Currer – abandoning oneself to Divine Providence implies the need to let go of many of the things we are deeply attached to. What is dear to God is the salvation of all”.
“As Christians and human beings – says Fr. Anthony – this story challenges us: do we collude with the cold forces of indifference, or do we show a ‘rare kindness’ and become witnesses of God’s loving providence to all men?
“Hospitality is a fundamental virtue in our search for Christian unity. Our Christian unity – he concludes – will be discovered not only by showing hospitality to each other, but also through encounters of love with those who do not speak our language, do not have our culture or our faith”.
The main ecumenical celebration took place in the pro-Anglican Cathedral of Saint Paul in La Valletta on the evening of Friday 17 January.
Finally, the various ecumenical partners and the people involved in the ecumenical dialogue in Malta will meet on Saturday 25 January, the day of the conclusion of the week, for a moment of prayer and sharing.