(Adapted from a prayer by Chiara Lubich at the World Council of Churches, 28 October 2002)
Lord, you said: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name (in my love), there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20). Kindle in us all a great fraternal respect, help us to listen profoundly to one another, arouse among us that mutual love which allows, indeed, which ensures your spiritual presence in our midst.
Because we know, Lord, that “without you we can do nothing” (see John 15:5).
But, with you in our midst, we will be given light by your light and be guided, sustained, nourished and encouraged during our common pilgrimage, a pilgrimage of unity, justice and peace.
You know the various tasks we have in our churches, which we strive to answer: to walk and to work, together with many others in the Christian world, so that full and visible communion among the Churches may one day become a reality.
Even though this – we know – requires almost a miracle. This is why we need you, Jesus.
For our part – in this moment – when the World Council of Churches celebrates its 70th anniversary, before beginning this arduous task, and ever aware that we are “useless and unfaithful servants”, we cannot help but open our hearts and reveal to you our deepest sentiments.
First of all, we feel the need to ask you for forgiveness on our own behalf, but also on behalf of our Christian brothers and sisters throughout the ages, forgiveness for having carelessly torn your tunic, for having cut it up into so many pieces, or for having kept it this way because of indifference.
At the same time, we cannot help but nurture a fervent hope in your mercy, which is always greater than any of our sins and capable not only of forgiving, but also of forgetting.
Just as we cannot deny that we have a great faith in your immense love, which is able to draw good from every evil, if we believe in you and if we love you.
All this burns in our hearts, Jesus, in this moment, when we celebrate such an important anniversary for the entire “fellowship of churches” of the WCC and for many ecumenical partners and companions marching together on a common pilgrimage like the image of your disciples who marched together towards Emmaus.
We add the fervent desire to express gratitude not only for the 70 years of the World Council of Churches but also for what Christians of many Churches have been able to do, with your grace and prompted by the Holy Spirit, during the last century.
They have worked towards mutual reconciliation through a fruitful dialogue of love, intense theological work, and a general heightening of people’s awareness of the need for unity.
And so, allow us to tell you, Lord, that although still in the acutely painful situation of not yet having achieved full communion, we sense in our heart the Christian optimism that your infinite Love cannot help but kindle.
And now, we commit ourselves to continue together our pilgrimage, confident that you, who know how to conquer the world, will help us to help you fulfil your testament here on earth one day. Then, with unity achieved, your testament will witness to the world that you are the King and Lord of all hearts and peoples. Amen