Handbook Offers Guidelines for the "Soul" of Fostering Christian Unity

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 16, 2007 (Zenit.org) - At the heart of the whole ecumenical movement is spiritual ecumenism, says the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

In A Handbook of Spiritual Ecumenism, Cardinal Walter Kasper presents guidelines grounded in documents from the Second Vatican Council, Pope John Paul II's "Ut Unum Sint" and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Spiritual ecumenism is the "soul of the whole ecumenical movement," Cardinal Kasper explains in the handbook, published recently by New City Press.

He encourages readers to contemplate Jesus who, during the Last Supper, prayed "that they may all be one."

Desire and prayer

The introduction of the volume explains: "The quest for Christian unity is, above all, a desire that must be kept alive and a prayer that must be nourished."

The prelate wrote the book, called for by his council's 2003 plenary assembly, with some of his collaborators. He especially acknowledges the help of Monsignors Johan Bonny and Donald Bolen.

The cardinal points out that the text results from personal experiences and cooperation with a group already practicing spiritual ecumenism.

Cardinal Kasper says he hopes "it will contribute to unite us more with our brothers and sisters, in a common prayer around Christ, our only Lord."


Teachings of Christ

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." (John 3:16-18 ESV)


Blessed are You, O Christ our God, * Who has shown the fishermen to be all wise, * by sending down to them the Holy Spirit, * and through them You have caught the whole world in Your net. * O Lover of Mankind, glory to You. (Troparion - Tone 8)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

When the Most High descended, confusing tongues, * He divided the nations; * but when He distributed the tongues of fire, * He called all to unity; * and, with one voice, * we glorify the Most Holy Spirit. (Kontakion - Tone 8)

Random Proverb

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. (Proverbs 3:9,10 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

But if a person is constantly mindful of God, he will rejoice: as the psalmist says, "I remembered God, and I rejoiced" (Psalms 77:3). For when the intellect is gladdened by the remembrance of God, then it forgets the afflictions of this world, places its hope in Him, and is no longer troubled or anxious.

St. Peter of Damaskos, "JOY" (from "The 24 Discourses), "The Philokalia vol. III," - pp. 260 - 263.