Ecumenical Prayer

Preghiera Ecumenica[San Vincenzo – Italy] For some years, at the end of the week of prayer for Christian unity, the parish in Mortegliano, a village near Udine (Northern Italy), celebrates an “ecumenical” prayer vigil, chaired by the parish priest and a Lutheran pastor. This year the theme of the week of prayer was “Give me to drink,” from the Gospel of Jesus and the Samaritan woman (Jn 4, 1 – 42). In the prayer vigil we also involved our kids from the secondary school. The vigil began with a meaningful gesture: a container was placed at the foot of the altar that reminded of Jacob’s well and the two celebrants poured water from two jugs into it. Later on the kids also poured water into it, taken from a bottle that they carried from their home. This gesture represented each Christian who, despite coming from different “sources”, tries to come together in unity. The kids also presented three signs, symbolizing what joins and unites all the different Christian confessions: a Bible, the symbol of the Word of God to which we are called to listen in order to speak and give meaning to our lives; incense, the symbol of prayer that rises to God; an apron, that reminds us of the commandment of love that urges us to put ourselves at the service of one another.

With these gestures we wanted to transmit to the kids the importance of seeking what unites rather than what divides, and how each of us can give a personal contribution to build the Christian community. However, these gestures also reflect our reality as Daughters of Charity: each of us has her own background, her way of being, her personality. Despite our diversity, we come together into the Company of the Daughters of Charity, called by God to give ourselves to him in Community to serve him in the Poor. We too are called to strive to build and live in the unity that is the harmonization of differences, while valuing the gifts of each.

The Lutheran pastor commented profoundly on the Gospel of the Samaritan woman. He reminded us that everybody needs to drink in order to live, and this depends on something outside ourselves: human beings are not self-sufficient. The dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman begins with a misunderstanding, the Samaritan woman thinks only of material water. Instead, Jesus means something else. The same happens to people today. They often try to satisfy their thirst with water that only quenches for the moment or in an illusory way, as with money, material things, success, security… The living water that really quenches the profound thirst in the heart of a human being can only be given by Jesus who is always ready to give it. It is up to people to accept the gift and live it day after day. We, Daughters of Charity, are called to walk alongside thirsty people today and show them the water that gives fullness to the expectations of their hearts. But this is only possible if we first let Jesus quench our thirst every day. The prayer vigil finished with a pleading for Christian Churches that could be appropriate also for our communities: “O God, make our Churches (communities) welcoming, where feast and forgiveness, joy and tenderness, strength and faith are practiced every day, with daily food and continuous advancing towards Jesus Christ. Amen. “

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