Pope Francis to open Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on January 18

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Pope Francis to open Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on January 18

By Deborah Castellano Lubov/ zenit.org and vatican.va

“Justice and Only Justice You Shall Follow”

Pope Francis will preside over Vespers at 5:30 pm on Friday, January 18, 2019, in the Roman Papal Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls, to open the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, announced the Holy See.

The liturgy will be that of Vespers of the First Week of Ordinary Time.

Traditionally, Popes have presided over Vespers for the closing (on January 25) not the opening, of this Week of Prayer in Rome, in the presence of representatives of the different Christian denominations.

However, Pope Francis will be in Panama for the World Youth Day from Wednesday, January 23 to Monday, January 28; hence the change in the Roman and ecumenical customs.

The theme chosen by the churches of Indonesia for this great Week of Prayer, which will be held from January 18-25, 2019, is “Justice and only Justice You Shall Follow” (See Deuteronomy 16:18-20).

The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Faith and Constitution Commission of the World Council of Churches prepare jointly the theme and biblical texts for this important Week.

According to vatican.va website,the traditional period in the northern hemisphere for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is 18-25 January. Those dates were proposed in 1908 by Paul Wattson to cover the days between the feasts of St Peter and St Paul, and therefore have a symbolic significance. In the southern hemisphere where January is a vacation time churches often find other days to celebrate the Week of Prayer, for example around Pentecost (suggested by the Faith and Order movement in 1926), which is also a symbolic date for the unity of the Church.

The Biblical text for 2019 is (Deuteronomy 16:11-20):

"Rejoice before the Lord your God — you and your sons and your daughters, your male and female slaves, the Levites resident in your towns, as well as the strangers, the orphans, and the widows who are among you — at the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. Remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and diligently observe these statutes.

"You shall keep the festival of booths for seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing-floor and your wine press. Rejoice during your festival, you and your sons and your daughters, your male and female slaves, as well as the Levites, the strangers, the orphans, and the widows resident in your towns. For seven days you shall keep the festival to the Lord your God at the place that the Lord will choose; for the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all your undertakings, and you shall surely celebrate.

"Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the festival of unleavened bread, at the festival of weeks, and at the festival of booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed; all shall give as they are able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you.

"You shall appoint judges and officials throughout your tribes, in all your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall render just decisions for the people. You must not distort justice; you must not show partiality; and you must not accept bribes, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of those who are in the right. Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, so that you may live and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you."

Thu, 01/10/2019 - 22:21
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