Ecumenical vigil

Every year, the Church invites us to pray for the unity of Christians whom history has divided. Every year, in the diocese of Saint Brieuc in Brittany, France, Christians of all denominations come together for a prayer vigil. On Saturday 20 January 2024, 5 of us Daughters of the Holy Spirit took part in this impressive and magnificent vigil in the Catholic church of St Yves, in Saint Brieuc.

It began with half an hour of conviviality: variously coloured cards featuring the image of the Good Samaritan were handed out – this year the Church has chosen this story to unify our prayer: “You shall love the Lord your God and your neighbour as yourself” -. With these cards, the instructions were to meet people with the same card over a cup of coffee! It was a pleasant moment with many surprises in store!
Then it was time for prayer. The representatives of each denomination took their places at the head of the assembly: a minister from the Reformed, Evangelical, Orthodox and Catholic churches. And there were long requests for forgiveness for our separations, our divisions, what causes them and what they generate…. We sang hymns and canticles of thanksgiving for the love that the Lord God has for each of us, in a language that speaks to the heart, to simple melodies, accompanied by well-trained musicians…. With one heart, we have praised the one God!  “We have but one Father; we have one King; we have but one Saviour.”

The proclamation of the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) was followed not by a homily, as is customary in Catholic worship, but by a testimony and a group discussion.
We listened very attentively to a sister from the “Chemin neuf” * community  who lives at Boquen Abbey *. This woman, of German-speaking Swiss nationality, was immersed from childhood in an environment where various circumstances led her to experience ecumenism. She continues to practise it there in daily prayer according to the commitment of “Chemin neuf”. A powerful testimony that leaves no one indifferent!

Following this testimony, a group discussion led us to find out how, in this year 2024, each of us is going to live ecumenism.  This was an opportunity to discover that there are ecumenical projects all around us, where Catholics are working with Protestants (theological café, support for migrants, occasional participation in the worship of another denomination, etc.) And then came the moment of truth, when everyone asked themselves: what can I do?.. knowing that praying for Christian unity throughout the year – and not just between 18 and 25 January – is already a beneficial action.

We again sang our thanksgiving before each minister prayed for his or her church, a prayer with which the whole congregation joined. Then, with hands joined, we proclaimed the “Our Father”, for “we are one Church, we have one Father, we have one King, we have one Saviour!”

So let us “praise God for our differences and live in fraternity!

Sister Armandine Bagot, DHS. Published on 26 January 2024

– Boquen Abbey: Notre-Dame de Boquen Abbey, located in the Côtes-d’Armor department in Brittany, is an ancient Cistercian abbey founded in the 12th century,
– “Chemin Neuf”: born out of a prayer group in 1973 in Lyon (France), the Chemin Neuf Community is a Catholic community with an ecumenical vocation. Today it has almost 2,000 members in some thirty countries. Couples, families and consecrated single men and women have chosen the adventure of community life, following the poor and humble Christ to serve the Church and the world.
– Image. 18-25 January. Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.