An essential element of our Community vocation ecumenism: to feel that we are united to all men. As much as we wish to respond to God, so much we ought to feel bound to realize a true fraternity with all men and in union with them, wish to bring back into the bosom of the Church all that they possess, be it values, traditions, or religious experiences.

This ecumenism requires from us to realize a Christianity that, while conscious of specific differences of religious mentalities, traditions and experiences between East and West, would nevertheless always be a witness to their unity too.

Not for nothing are we called to live certain prayers in order to be aware of certain elements of the religious experience of Eastern Christianity.

The first thing therefore to realize, if we wish to respond to God, is precisely the sense of this unity which transcends the limits of a culture and of a purely Western mentality. These premises should be kept in mind in our Christianity which has become incarnate by assuming the human values of the West and cannot forsake them; however it can somehow transcend these same values and thereby assume the ones which are proper of the Orthodox tradition as well.

Still that is not enough. Our ecumenical vocation requires us also to assume the authentic values of the Reformation: the soberness, the recalling of the Event, the study of the Word of God, the insistence upon the foundations of our faith.

And that is not enough. As the first Fathers showed us, we fulfill the continuity between the old and the new Israel. The first prayer which we say each day, 'Hear, O Israel' is, so to say, the symbol of Judaism, but it is also the affirmation of its faithfulness to the Word of God, manifested by our Lord Himself: St Mark's Gospel puts the 'Shema' into Jesus'mouth. Now this recalls us to live our relation with Israel.

We must consider what it means for us to use the Bible; it is not just being nourished by the Word of God, but it is also accepting a culture, a tradition that is not Greco-Roman, but the religious experience, the culture of the Semitic people.

Finally our ecumenism implies that we realize some kind of union with religions outside of Christianity and Judaism as well. This unity is based upon two facts:

1) There is a primitive revelation, foundation of all human religious experience, which is universal. Through this cosmic, primitive, universal religion, we can from the beginning be brothers and sisters to all.

2) Also as its final goal the Church must assume all the values - of culture, of experience - of each people.

The divine basis of Christianity assures me that it has the capacity to assimilate all, to assume all, without forsaking itself.

If God reveals and communicates Himself through every aspect of life, the Christian as a rule can refuse nothing. Just as Christ did not refuse anything except sin, so ought we in Him to assume all except sin, we ought to enter into contact with everyone and everything in order to live our communion with God.

In order to live the spirit of the Community, we ought to feel profoundly that our vocation to the Community calls us also to be aware of the time we live in, as well as the signs of the times.

The greatest manifestation (as the Second Vatican Council said) of the action of the Holy Spirit in modern times is this aspiration to the unity that God has raised up in so many hearts and not only in the Catholic Church, but first even in the separated communities. The Holy Spirit has moved even our Community to perceive, even before the Church expressed it, this need to feel ourselves truly one with others.

To be truly Christian I ought to feel a need to embrace all my brothers, to give them what they do not have and to receive from them what I do not have. The Church, potentially of course, has all the riches of the world, but I am not the Church; I do not love like Seraphim of Sarov; I do not contemplate like Silvanus of Mount Athos, I do not live the Passion of Christ as did certain Protestant pastors: I ought to learn even from them. On the other hand, I do receive from them what they have, inasmuch as they are invisibly included in the Church and live in the grace of Christ. To be truly Catholic I must feel the need that their lives should find some expression in mine; that in me even their experience should be made present.

Others in the Church will feel themselves particularly bound to convert, but our action is not directed at converting individuals, but rather to ensure that the need to enter the Church should mature in those who are outside of it, so that the values of all can enter the Church, and not be suppressed. We ought to desire the ripening of a massive conversion in each individual religious community outside of Christianity. We ought to desire for instance that India, converted to Christianity, should bring into the Catholic Church her precious inheritance of riches and religious traditions. Thus would our interior life be enriched.

Let us avoid all polemical language, that is purely apologetic. Let there be, for us, no other defense of our Christianity than the testimony of our lives and the pure proclamation of the truth. If the truth is not enough to defend itself, then it is no longer a truth worth serving.

God does manifest Himself, makes Himself present, and the presence of God overcomes evil. So is it with Christian truth. Let the only defense of Christians be their presence, the testimony of their lives, the proclamation of their faith.

So, no defensive or polemical language, but a true, living prayer, which maintains us in unity with all. Our prayer wants to be a prayer which establishes a communion of love, in Christ who is love.

This is the first way to live our ecumenism.

And then let us seek to understand one another better, with an understanding that implies sympathy and love. A knowledge that is purely learned, made up of notions, does not unite us; rather it would maintain us at a greater distance, make us feel our differences more greatly. Ours should be a knowledge gained through a contact, a communion with the traditions, with the religious movements outside of the visible Church, above all with the great religious personalities, who are revealed in these other communities: saints, theologians, great souls who are witnesses of Christ and of God even if they have not known Him; but they have sought Him truly with all their soul and could not have been able to seek for Him if they did not love Him, nor be able to love Him if already they did not somehow possess Him.

A sincere seeking for God always implies that God lives in the human heart. It is precisely this presence of God in one's heart that gives us the power to journey on the path, to direct ourselves, to orient ourselves towards God, to seek Him with sincerity.

After all, as individuals (not as Church), we are all journeying in search of God, and we ought to feel ourselves united to all those souls who share that same passion which in the Gospel is proclaimed as the beatitude of those who hunger and thirst after justice; because those who so hunger and thirst are promised the satiety which is love.

Our Community has a universal ecumenical character because it turns to all, because each of us feels responsible for all and in solidarity with all.

After the Consecration of Community members, at the end of Mass, the Icon of the Nikopeia is blessed and given by the celebrating Priest to the newly Consecrated members. From among all the images of the Virgin, this Icon has been chosen as our patron; the Nikopeia from Venice, so we may feel ourselves brothers of all men. The Nikopeia comes from the East and is venerated in Venice, the gateway to eastern Christianity. The Nikopeia is the sign in which the Eastern and Western Christian world recognize each other as one, in as much as East and West recognizes themselves as sons of Mary.
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