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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Second Sunday of the Year – 15th January 2012
Coastal Erosion

Wednesday marks, in the northern hemisphere, the start of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which in this country is organised by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. For many people this is a meaningless occasion but not because they think that unity is impossible. Rather it is because they are the kind of people who would throw into a conversation about religion some statement suggesting that, “Basically, we all believe the same thing, don’t we?”

Err, no we don’t, actually. The problem with papering over the cracks in this way is that while we may get a warm feeling inside of inter-communion between different ecclesial bodies, we damage the communion with whichever church we belong to and with whom we celebrate the Eucharist which is the sacramental (for some churches) sign of that oneness. Glossing over the differences also fails to honour those who have been persecuted and given their lives for the faith to which they belong and their right to worship without fear of retribution. Ignoring the teachings at the heart of our communities also overlooks the years of work that so many theologians have undertaken to deepen our understanding of the mysteries we celebrate when we come together to worship.

Nevertheless, the Charta Oecumenica (Guidelines for the Growing Co-operation among the Churches is Europe) is unequivocal on the subject of prayer for this week. It states, “Fundamental differences in faith are still barriers to visible unity. There are different views of the church and its oneness, of the sacraments and ministries. We must not be satisfied with this situation. Jesus Christ revealed to us on the cross His love and the mystery of reconciliation; as His followers, we intend to do our utmost to overcome the problems and obstacles that still divide the churches.” A crucial part of this is coming together to pray for this unity, in faithfulness to Our Blessed Lord who prayed that His disciples might be one. But a real sense of unity is not precluded by differences.

We constantly face the relentless creep of secularism into our society and its “de-Christianisation” – for example, people who have just returned to work after the “winter solstice holiday” can no longer “sing from the same hymn sheet” because such terms might offend non-Christians.

Our unity begins with defending the Christian principles which are being systematically erased from our society. And like the coastlands of our beautiful island, if we don’t unite to prevent this, we will slowly slip into the chaos and disorder of the sea.

Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:21 am