This week marks the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity when many Christians around the world reflect on the call to ecumenism. The New Testament teaches us that the church is the Body of Christ, with many members and diverse gifts, and Jesus himself prays that his followers may all be one so that the world may believe (John 17:21). Christian unity is more than just an abstract Good Thing. It’s vital to realizing the fullness of our life together as Christians and to our witness to the world around us.
Yet in our current ecclesial landscape, in which Christians are divided into numerous denominations, worshipping in multiple languages, in different styles, and with different theological emphases, Christian unity can feel a very long way away. In looking at this situation in this particular week, I am reminded of several things. First, God creates us in our diversity. There are good reasons why people want to worship God in the language they know best. This diversity can and does enrich our life as Christians. I think of how much I have learned from the differing theological emphases of Christians from different backgrounds and different locations. Second, I also remember that unity is not the same as uniformity. Just because I learn from different theological emphases or enjoy worshipping in another language does not mean that I am called to be just like them. I have my own gifts to offer other Christians as well.
What I take away from the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is the need to be in ongoing relationship with Christians from different backgrounds and traditions than my own. One of the great things about our common life in the college is that we are able to work on this relationship on a daily basis. This week, we had another opportunity to further form relationship as we renewed our connection with Le Grand Séminaire for the first time since the pandemic. On Tuesday evening, we were invited for dinner and a worship service with Roman Catholic seminarians in the Archdiocese of Montreal. The tradition of this service dates to the 1960s when, following the Second Vatican Council, Roman Catholics and Protestants around the world took steps to encounter one another in new and more meaningful ways. In Montreal, that led to this service which has always been a wonderful opportunity to pray together and learn a little bit more about Roman Catholic life in this city.