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Lectio Divina Reading

March 1, 2003

Contemplation and Unity

An Ecumenical Statement

We believe that welcome progress has been made recently in overcoming the ancient divisions between Christian churches. The power of the Gospel has often been veiled by the failure of Christians to love one another and to celebrate diversity as a sign of the richness of unity that there is in Christ. We believe, however, that a new era is opening. In these times there is less call for words and ceremonies and more need for the authentic spiritual knowledge that arises through the silence of Contemplation.

The spiritual hunger and the widespread suspicion of religion in our society firmly points Christians to the depth dimension of their common faith. The contemplative dimension of the Gospel is not a specialty of particular churches or groups. It belongs to all and summons us all, through the signs of the times, to recover it. Nor is this contemplative dimension of faith to be identified only with the vocation of some to solitude and quiet. It applies equally to the life of good works, prophetic protest against injustice and the patient labor of peace making. Indeed , the integrity and vigor of the Christian life and its witness to the world depend upon the marriage of contemplation and action in the full experience of the mystery of God that passes understanding but is intimately known in daily acts of kindness.

If we cannot understand the silence of Christ we will not be able to understand his words, as an early Christian teacher asserted. Because we are convinced of the urgent need to recover the contemplative dimension in our prayer, worship and ministries, we have committed ourselves to search for ways in which this can be better appreciated by all Christians and by the whole of society.

We invite our brothers and sisters in all churches to reflect on and join in this contemplative endeavor and so enrich its vision with their own special insights and traditions.

We believe too, that in this age of violence and terror, friendship between the world religions is an indispensable foundation of the work for global peace and justice. If this friendship is to be sincere and transformative it also must be rooted in that experience of silence, stillness and simplicity that is the common ground of contemplation.

If we really can achieve a fuller harmony between contemplation and action in this way we will surely better fulfill the greater desire of Christ that ‘we may all be one.’ "

Dom Laurence Freeman, OSB , A Pearl of Great Price, pg. 59 & 60

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