VATICAN CITY, JAN 17, 2007 (VIS) - The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins tomorrow, was the focus of Benedict XVI's catechesis during his general audience, held this morning in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of more than 6,000 people.

"Unity," said the Pope, "is a gift from God and the fruit of the action of His Spirit. For this reason it is important to pray. The closer we draw to Christ, converting ourselves to His love, the closer we also draw to one another."
The Holy Father recalled the theme of this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, taken from the Gospel of St. Mark: "He even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak." This phrase, he explained "by highlighting two aspects of the mission of each Christian community - announcing the Gospel and giving witness of charity - also underlines how important it is to translate Christ's message into real initiatives of solidarity. This advances the journey towards unity because ... all relief Christians together bring to their fellows, however small, also contributes to making their communion more visible."

"The road to unity remains long and difficult, but we must not be discouraged, and continue our journey, relying on the sure support of Christ" said the Pope. He also noted how he had had the opportunity to note, over years of meetings with representatives from other Churches and ecclesial communities, "and in a particularly moving way, during my recent visit to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in Istanbul, how deeply felt the desire for unity is. ... That experience and others like it, have brought hope to my heart."

The Pope mentioned the fact that today, in some countries, is the Day for Dialogue between Jews and Christians, and he recalled some high points in the "mutual friendship" between the two communities, such as Vatican Council II and John Paul II's visit to the synagogue of Rome in April 1986.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will come to an end on January 25 with the celebration of Vespers presided by the Holy Father in the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, in the presence of representatives from other Churches and Christian communities.

Teachings of Christ

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account." (Matthew 5:11 ESV)

Exaltation of the Cross

Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance; * grant victory to Your Church over her enemies * and protect Your commonwealth by Your Cross. (Troparion - Tone 1)

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

Willingly lifted up on the Cross, O Christ God, * bestow Your compassions upon the new commonwealth that bears Your name. * By your power grant joy to Your Church, * granting her victory over her enemies. * May she have your Cross as the weapon of peace * and the invincible ensign of victory. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14th.

Random Proverb

"Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold." (Proverbs 3:13,14 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Those who have truly decided to serve the Lord God should practice the remembrance of God and uninterrupted prayer to Jesus Christ, mentally saying: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

St. Seraphim of Sarov