Devotions for Christian unity

Published January 20, 2015

In God’s Reconciling Grace
By Bernard de Margerie
Roman Catholic diocese of Saskatoon, 2014
ISBN 978-0-9920011-1-7
Soft cover; 238 pages

The subtitle says it all: Prayer and reflection texts for Christian reconciliation and unity. This collection of private and corporate devotion gathers resources from across the whole spectrum of Christianity from every age-Roman Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox through United, Baptist, Pentecostal. It carries the endorsement of Christian leaders from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, home of the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism.

This is clearly a labour of love for the centre’s founder, now retired Roman Catholic priest Bernard de Magerie. Newly ordained, he discerned his special vocation for further Christian unity on Jan. 26, 1959, the day that Pope John XXIII called the second Vatican Council, saying that unity would be a major goal.

The overriding theme of this 238-page book is from John 17:20-21, Jesus’ high priestly prayer that “all may be one.” It is impossible to review in detail so much varied content. Anglicanism contributes four items: two traditional ones from the Book of Common Prayer (pages 39 and 40) and two contemporary offerings, “Draw the Circle Wide” by Gordon Light (Common Praise, Hymn 418) and a collect by the Rev. Jan Bigland-Pritchard. Looking toward the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation in 2017 are four contemporary prayers from the Lutheran-Roman Catholic International Commission.

One of the most moving of the suggested liturgies acknowledges “brokenness, proclaiming our hope for full communion in the body of Jesus Christ our Lord.” Its climax is the passing of pieces from a broken loaf through the congregation, as each person touches, but does not consume, the bread-symbolizing the pain of being present at, but unable to share fully in, the Sacrament.

Through the generosity of three special donors, 5,000 copies of this book were made available free of charge through Fr. De Margerie at telephone 306-651-7051; email: [email protected]. Only 500 were left by mid-January.

The last page reproduces an etching, “The Praying Christ,” commissioned by Abbé Paul Couturier, who in 1935 articulated the ideal of prayer for Christian unity “as Christ wills it and in accordance with the means he wills.” This book demonstrates how far we have become, and how far we have yet to go, toward fulfilling Jesus’ prayer.


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