The Holy Spirit, spiritual meeting place for the unity of the Christians

“So that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me” (John 17,21)

From the beginning of all ecumenical dialogue, we have to be aware that a dialogue of this kind is not something purely human: it is not merely a question of persons of good-will in search of an honourable diplomatic compromise.  There is one over-riding consideration: the will of the Triune God.

We cannot say often enough: unity is a gift of God, a grace for which we should beg the Lord together. Moreover on the threshold of every ecumenical effort we should recall the words of Cardinal Bea:

“The door to unity is entered on our knees”.

We must pray together fervently.  This is a first step but still a timid and sporadic one.  It is something, but we are not entering into God’s own loving impatience.  We too easily hide behind a patience we impose on him, forgetting that he ‘longs to eat the passover with us’ (see Lk. 22,15), the passover of unity.


Now, it is only the Spirit who can truly pray in us, and only he can bring us to the real depths of prayer and cause us to say the Name of Jesus as Christians should, that is, together.

It is the Spirit who unites us in the acclamation ‘Jesus is Lord’.  He is amongst us at our meetings.  For every real ecumenical dialogue is not primarily one between Churches.  It is not a dialogue between Rome and Canterbury, Rome and Moscow, Rome and Geneva.  It is rather an inner spiritual dialogue between Rome, Canterbury, Moscow, Geneva and our common Master: Jesus Christ.  To the degree that the Spirit reveals to us the true face of Christ, no shadow will cloud our own:

“Every face turned to him grows brighter, and is never ashamed (Ps. 34,6).”

By uniting ourselves to Christ, we have true communion with one another; this is the short way to unity.

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This prayer shared with others can be encouraged by meeting in groups for spontaneous prayer, Charismatic or otherwise. These give an opportunity for frequent communion in spirit as we wait for the longed-for hour of Eucharistic intercommunion.  Prayer in common, sustained by the word of God, is a never-failing spring where Christians of every confession can come and quench their thirst together in an atmosphere of respect and mutual love.

This does not mean that a badly understood charity should obliterate doctrinal divergences not yet resolved.  Everyone must preserve his own identity, while respecting that of others.  On such occasions, for instance, Catholics should not minimize their beliefs or their devotion to Mary.  The Spirit knows how to create harmonious prayer, if only every instrument is in tune.

Source: L.J. Cardinal Suenens, “The Holy Spirit, Life-Breath of the Church” (I), Oppem-Meise, FIAT-Association, 2001, p.191-194.
Photo’s: FIAT-Association Radio Vaticana