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Francis emphasizes Christian unity in prayer with Romanian Orthodox

“Each time we say ‘Our Father,’ we state that the word Father cannot stand on its own, apart from ‘Our,’” Pope Francis said May 31, in a meeting with Romanian Orthodox leaders and faithful with a common recitation of the Our Father.

Pope Francis and Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Daniel exchange gifts at the patriarchal palace in Bucharest, Romania, May 31, 2019. The pope is making a three-day visit to Romania. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Bucharest, Romania, May 31, 2019 / 09:39 am (CNA).- In a meeting with the Romanian Orthodox in their new cathedral in Bucharest Friday, Pope Francis prayed for the union of Christians as demonstrated in the first words of the Pater noster.

“Each time we say ‘Our Father,’ we state that the word Father cannot stand on its own, apart from ‘Our,’” Pope Francis said May 31, in a meeting with Romanian Orthodox leaders and faithful with a common recitation of the Our Father.

He said, “united in Jesus’ prayer, we are also united to his experience of love and intercession, which leads us to say: ‘My Father and your Father, my God and your God.’ We are invited to make my become our, and our to become a prayer.”

“Help us, Father, to take our brother or sister’s lives seriously, to make their history our history,” he prayed. The encounter took place as part of the activities of the first day of Francis’ visit to three areas of Romania May 31-June 2.

Earlier in the day he met with the Romanian president and authorities. He also met privately with Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Daniel and the bishops and metropolitans of the Holy Synod.

Referring to the line of the Our Father, which asks God to provide “our daily bread,” Francis said today we ask also for the bread “of which so many people today are lacking” – love.

“The Our Father is a prayer that leaves us troubled and crying out in protest against the famine of love in our time, against the individualism and indifference that profane your name, Father,” he prayed.

“Help us to hunger to give freely of ourselves. Remind us, whenever we pray, that life is not about keeping ourselves comfortable but about letting ourselves be broken; not about accumulating but about sharing; not about eating to our heart’s content but about feeding others,” Pope Francis said.

Going through the Our Father line-by-line, the pope addressed God the Father, “who art in heaven, a heaven that embraces all and in which you make the sun rise on the good and the evil, on the just and the unjust.”

He prayed for peace and harmony on earth through the intercession of those who dwell with God in heaven “after having believed, loved and suffered greatly, even in our own days, simply for the fact that they were Christians.”

“Together with them, we wish to hallow your name, placing it at the heart of all we do. May your name, Lord, and not ours, be the one that moves and awakens in us the exercise of charity,” he added.

Reflecting on the desire for “your kingdom to come,” the pope criticized the “frenetic consumerism that entices with glittering but fleeting realities,” and prayed for the grace to give up the comfort of power, worldliness, and self-sufficiency.

“God’s will is that all be saved,” Francis said, quoting St. John Cassian, a monk and theologian who lived during the 4th and 5th centuries, thus the prayer says: “thy will be done, not our will.”

Pope Francis prayed for the “daily bread” who is Christ, and for the “the bread of memory, the grace to nurture the shared roots of our Christian identity, so indispensable in an age when humanity, and the young in particular, tend to feel rootless amid the uncertainties of life, and incapable of building their lives on a solid foundation.”

“Each time we pray, we ask that our trespasses, our debts, be forgiven,” he continued, encouraging Catholics and Eastern Orthodox to find the strength of heart to forgive the trespasses of others.

“And when the evil that lurks at the doorway of our heart makes us want to close in on ourselves; when we feel more strongly the temptation to turn our back on others, help us again, Father, for the essence of sin is withdrawal from you and from our neighbor,” he prayed.

“Help us to recognize in every one of our brothers and sisters a source of support on our common journey to you. Inspire in us the courage to say together: Our Father.”

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  1. The active pursuit of unity between Catholic and Orthodox has always seemed one-way, in light of the Divine Liturgy vs. the abundant “options” available within the Ordinary Form, which from experience almost always fosters liturgical abuse.

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