COMMEMORATING THE 500TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE REFORMATION THROUGH STUDY, PRAYER AND SERVICE
WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY:
'On Oct. 31, Pope Francis celebrated a joint liturgy with the Lutheran World Federation in Lund, Sweden to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Why would Catholics want to recognize such an occasion? Among many other answers, it is because we are all on the journey towards unity in Jesus Christ, and both faith communities don't want to lose sight of this ultimate goal. It's important to understand what differences remain, while at the same time our success in overcoming several key, theological areas of disagreement since the Reformation is worthy of celebration. Furthermore, in an increasingly secularized culture and a divided world, we can be stronger together than apart in evangelizing our shared faith in the Gospel. (As Saint John XXIII exclaimed, "More unites us than divides us.")
To these ends, Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton (Steubenville Diocese) and Bishop Suzanne Darcy Dillahunt (Southern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) released a "Joint Statement to Encourage Study, Prayer and Service in Commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation." In it, they state:
Remarkably this commemoration has become an ecumenical observance, focusing on the continued pursuit of unity in Jesus Christ for which He himself prayed... It will involve moments of thanksgiving, repentance, and commitment, placing at the center the gospel of Jesus Christ. Read the full statement here.
Activities of study, prayer and service will be taking place throughout the Archdiocese between now and Oct. 31, 2017. Among them, we encourage parishes to utilize and look out for:
- Resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, January 18-25, 2017: The theme for the week will focus on the anniversary, and it is appropriately titled, "Reconciliation- The Love of Christ Compels Us." Please visit the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interfaith Institute (a ministry of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement) for prayer and worship materials, educational resources, and so much more. Go to: www.geii.org
- Catholic-Lutheran Study Groups, anytime from January 18 to Oct. 31, 2017: During the Commemoration Year, we are encouraging Catholic and Lutheran churches to form small, joint study groups (7-12 participants each) to explore the foundations and experiences of each other's faith. The main document being used will be From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017, released by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity and the Lutheran World Federation. Such study groups can serve as a meaningful Lenten activity!
- Other resources and activities in development include a speakers bureau, traveling historic exhibit, joint prayer services and social ministry opportunities.