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

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’" (John 7:37-38 ESV)

Resurrection

Christ is risen from the dead * trampling down Death by death, * and upon those in the tombs bestowing life! (Troparion)

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

Although You descended into the tomb, O Immortal One, * You destroyed the power of Hades; * You arose as the victor, O Christ God, * proclaiming to the myrrh-bearing women: “Rejoice!” * And granting peace to Your Apostles, * O, You, Who gives resurrection to the fallen. (Kontakion)

Random Proverb

"The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing." (Proverbs 9:13 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Our Lord Jesus Christ..., who came to liberate mankind, in which both males and females are destined to salvation, was not adverse to males, for He took the form of a male, nor to females, for of a female He was born. Besides, there is a great mystery here: that just as death comes to us through a woman, Life is born to us through a woman; that the devil - defeated - would be tormented by each nature, feminine and masculine, since he had taken delight in the defection of both.

St. Augustine of Hippo, Ca. A.D. 397, Christian Combat 22, 24 in The Faith of the Early Fathers (Jurgens, Liturgical Press) 3:50, no. 1578