Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins

 The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, traditionally celebrated every year from January 18 to 25, was heralded in London yesterday evening, when the Choir and Clergy of St Paul's Cathedral sang Vespers at Westminster Cathedral. On Friday, at 5pm, the Choir and Clergy of Westminster Cathedral will visit St Paul's Cathedral to sing Evensong. The theme for the 2007 initiative is: "He even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak." The texts for reflection and prayer this year have been prepared by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and by the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches. "This year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity," says a communique released by the Pontifical Council, "brings together two themes, two invitations extended to Christian Churches and people: to pray and strive together for Christian unity, and to join together in responding to human suffering. These two responsibilities are deeply intertwined. Both relate to healing the Body of Christ (the Church), hence the principal text chosen for this year's week of prayer is a story of healing." Each day of the Week will have a different theme: January 18: In the beginning was the Word. "And God said..." (Gen 1). January 19: The Saving Word of Christ. "He makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak" (Mk 7: 31-37). January 20: The Holy Spirit gives us the Word. "The Spirit ...will testify on my behalf" (Jn 15: 26). January 21: The silence of the forgotten and the cries of the suffering. "If one member suffers all suffer together" (1 Cor 12: 26). January 22: God's judgement on our silence. "Just as you did not do it to one of the least of these..." (Mt 25: 45). January 23: Empowered to speak out. "But the woman ... came in fear and trembling ... and told Him the whole truth" (Mk 5: 33). January 24: Forsakenness. "Why are You so far from helping me?" (Ps 22: 1) January 25: Resurrection - glorification. "Every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" (Phil 2: 11). In the basilica of St Paul's Outside-the-Walls at 5.30pm next Thursday, January 25, Feast of the Conversion of the Apostle Paul, pope Benedict XVI will preside at the celebration of Vespers to mark the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Source: ICN/VIS

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