Rome (Italy) From 18 to 25 January 2020, on the theme “They showed us extraordinary hospitality;“ (Acts 28: 2), the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is held. The date of this ecumenical initiative remains unchanged over the years because it lies between the feast of the Chair of St. Peter and that of the conversion of St. Paul. It was proposed in 1908 by the American Servant of God Father Paul Wattson, founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, who proposed to pray for a week for Christian denominations to begin an ecumenical journey. In the southern hemisphere, where January is a holiday period, the Churches celebrate the Week of Prayer on other symbolic dates for the unity of the Church, for example in the time of Pentecost.
During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, numerous prayer vigils, ecumenical celebrations, conferences, sharing between Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans, and Orthodox are planned.
The material for this year has been prepared by the Christian Churches of Malta and Gozo together with the Ecumenical Council of Malta (Christians Together in Malta), in collaboration with an International Committee composed of representatives of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity and of the Faith and Constitution Commission of the Ecumenical Council of Churches.
The passage chosen for the Week of Prayer 2020, taken from the Acts of the Apostles – Acts 27.18-28.10 – is the one proclaimed on February 10, in Malta, the day on which many Christians celebrate the Apostle Paul’s Shipwreck Day, commemorating and giving thanks for the arrival of the Christian faith in those islands. This text invites us to reflect on the faith of Saint Paul in Divine Providence and on the ecumenical virtues of hospitality.
“Hospitality is a highly necessary virtue in the search for unity among Christians. It is conduct that drives us to greater generosity towards those in need. The people who showed kindness to Paul and his companions did not yet know Christ, yet it is because of their “extraordinary hospitality” that a group of divided people is gathered in unity. Our unity as Christians will be revealed not only through hospitality towards one another, while important, but also through the loving encounter with those who do not share our language, our culture, and our faith “. (From the Brochure for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity)
In the introductory document of the Brochure, reference is made to the various initiatives of the churches for the reception of migrants, including the Manifesto for the reception of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy (FCEI) and the project of humanitarian corridors, both those promoted from Sant’Egidio, Evangelical Federation and Waldensian Table, and those promoted by the Episcopal Conference and Caritas.
The themes for the eight days are:
Day 1 Reconciliation: throw the load overboard Day
Day 2 Light: seek and make manifest the light of Christ Day
Day 3 Hope: Discourse of Paul Day
Day 4 Trust: don’t be afraid, believe Day
Day 5 Courage: break the bread for the trip Day
Day 6 Hospitality: welcome with kindness Day
Day 7 Conversion: change our mind and heart Day
Day 8 Generosity: receive and give
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