Thursday, November 30, 2006

From the rising to the setting of the sun...
Or, Christian leaders of East and West meet in a moment of universal significance.

I just can't help but have this feeling of wonder and the rich sense that I am witnessing something truly fantastic and monumental in the meeting of Pope Benedict XVI with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, coinciding happily with this year's Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, considered by the Orthodox as their great founder. There is a very evident respect shown between them and a sense of fraternal affection. And don't forget the urgency that more work must be done to restore unity between our Churches, already so close in faith and practice. May it be so!

I watched with awe today's Patriarchal Divine Liturgy celebrated by the Ecumenical Patriarch, concelebrated by many other Orthodox bishops, and in the presence of Pope Benedict. It was truly a beautiful sacred liturgy, which beauty was augmented by the personages present. Though there are many things one could highlight about this event, I choose this one. As I was watching the Divine Liturgy on EWTN, I noticed that as the communicants came forward to receive the Holy Eucharist, many of them (I won't say all, but certainly many) paused, turned to Pope Benedict, whom they had to pass to approach the sanctuary, and made a slight bow to him in respect. He, in turn, would reciprocate. And the most precious of all, was when a young Orthodox lad not only turned to bow, but walked up to Pope Benedict to shake his hand. The Pope very joyfully bent down to greet the young boy and arose with a bright smile.

May that joy impel us on to unity. And may the evident mutual respect and affection shown between a Pope, a Patriarch, and a young boy remind us that we have no choice but to make every effort to ensure authentic unity.

Ut unam sint!

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