Thursday, March 24, 2016

Prayer, Meditation, Integration—Ecumenical Reflections for Lent

By Father John Crossin

Prayer is necessary as we integrate our faith and the events of everyday life. This is true of the results of ecumenical conversations. We need to bring these results into our daily prayer, to reflect on these results, and to seek deeper understanding of what the Holy Spirit is saying to us in our conversations with other Christians.

This same process takes place as we interact with the culture which is around us and in us. We are part of American culture--not separate from it. In prayer, we discern the good and the questionable in our daily experience. In quiet meditative moments, we see more clearly both our emotional reactions and our understandings. Often deep insights come as we reflect prayerfully.

In these moments we often compare Jesus teaching and our experience. In the Gospel reading for Holy Thursday we see Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. We see Jesus emptying himself for our salvation. These acts of humility stand in contrast to the self-preservation, self-promotion and pursuit of power we see here in Washington. These acts of humility are affirmed in the work of So Others Might Eat, Catholic Charities, and other ministries also here in Washington.

A question that comes from such meditations is: how might I help transform the culture around me? How might the culture encourage the humility of Christ rather than political posturing or self-aggrandizement?

Ultimately prayer is transformative. Prayer that is attentive to everyday life and to the inner movements of the Spirit changes us. Such prayer leads us to action that in some small way transforms things around us.

Spiritual ecumenism is the foundation of the search for Christian unity. Deeper unity in Christ will change us and our culture.

Father John Crossin, OSFS is executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He tweets @crossinusccb.

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