Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pax Sinica Article Jan 18--- 願眾人合而為一 Being one

若望福音(17:21)記載耶穌受難前,向天主聖父祈求祂的眾信徒能合一。一月十八日至一月二十五日是基督徒合一週,我們特別祈求所有基督徒都能歸附教宗——聖伯多祿承任人——的麾下,實現「同歸一棧一牧(若望福音10:16)」。

近日,有些天主教網誌稱當今教宗本篤十六世為「基督徒合一的教宗」。著名網誌主持人、茂德.菲尼幹Tim Finigan神父描述教宗是「實幹合一,不尚空談,為分享同一信仰的聖公會信徒,提供切實合一的機緣。」在這裏,讓我們認識兩位為基督徒合一作出貢獻及犧牲的聖人。

聖方濟.沙雷St. Francis de Sales

聖人出生於一五六七年,一五九三年晉鐸,來到沙伯來(Thonon-les-Bains )傳教,意欲感化非天主教的基督徒。艱苦了三年,仍沒有人歸化。但聖人異常耐心。人們不願來聽他講道, 他便編撰了一些宗教傳單, 親手抄寫, 並把它們放進屋門下。這些傳單後來被編為「公教辯証」一冊。

聖方濟的忍耐與和善,讓他的傳教工作,漸見端倪。父母們不願接近他, 他就接近兒童, 並與他們同樂同娛; 後來父母們見到他對兒童的良善, 便開始願意與他交談。

聆聽聖方濟講道的人漸見踴躍,皈化的人亦日漸眾多;當聖人離開沙伯來時,超過四萬人重返了天主教。

聖人給「聖母往見會」創辦人, 聖婦桑達爾Jane de Chantal, 寫道:「我一向主張, 誰懷着愛去宣講, 縱然他沒有說出任何爭議性的詞句, 他便能有效地戰勝異端徒。」

真福瑪利亞.嘉俾娜Blessed Maria Gabriella

福女瑪利亞.嘉俾娜生於一九一四年,生性頑强、固執、反叛,但有強烈的責任感與忠誠。她會一便發牢騷,一便順命。她雖口裏說「不」,卻會立即順命行動。

最親愛的姊妹離世,瑪利亞.嘉俾娜傷痛的心情,深深地改變了她的一生。十八歲時,人們注意到她變得溫良,祈禱生活和愛心增長。年二十一,進入熙篤隱修會;作了發愿的修女後,她請求天主在她身上完成祂的旨意。

一九三八年一月,基督徒合一週前,聽得長上呼籲為合一祈禱、奉獻; 嘉俾娜修女感到天主願意她把自己年輕的生命奉獻作為合一的犧牲。

嘉俾娜修女在徵得修院長上同意後,便鄭重地把生命作犧性奉獻給主。天主接納了她的奉獻:不消數月, 康健的她,突罹肺病。嘉俾娜一直為合一祈禱和受苦, 直至一九三九年四月二十三日病逝為止。當日是「善牧主日」。

教宗若望保祿二世在一九八三年一月二十五日,宣封瑪利亞.嘉俾娜修女為真福,譽她為天主給教會的徵兆和「精神合一運動」的表表者。

讓我們效法真福瑪利亞.嘉俾娜一樣,為基督徒合一作祈禱和犧牲;讓我們也效法聖方濟.沙雷,以尊重、愛心和仁慈,善待非天主教的基督徒。

January 18 to 25 is the Octave of Christian Unity. Before his passion, Jesus prayed to the Father that all his believers might be one (John 17:21). During these eight days, we pray that all Christians will eventually reach full communion with the Holy Father, the successor of Peter, so that there will be “one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:16).

Recently, some Catholic blogs started calling our present Holy Father, Benedict XVI, “The Pope of Christian Unity.” One prominent Catholic blogger, Father Tim Finigan, observed that “Pope Benedict has begun to 'walk the walk' rather than simply 'talk the talk' on ecumenism, providing for the real and concrete prospect of unity with those Anglicans who share our faith.” In this article, I would like to share with you the stories of two saints who worked and sacrificed for Christian Unity.

St. Francis de Sales

Born in 1567, St. Francis was ordained a priest in 1593. As a young priest, he started an expedition to Thonon-les-Bains, France, to convert non-Catholic Christians back to Catholicism. After three difficult years, there was not even one convert. But, St. Francis was an unusually patient man. He wrote out his leaflets, copied them by hand, and slipped them under the doors of the people who would not listen to him. These leaflets were later published in one volume called The Catholic Controversy.

St. Francis won the heart of the people gradually with his patience and kindness. The parents would not come to St. Francis, so he came to their children and played with them. When the parents saw how kind he was as he played with their children, they started to talk to him.

Eventually more and more people came to St. Francis to listen to his sermons, and conversions became increasingly frequent. By the time he left Thonon-les-Bains, St. Francis had brought 40,000 people back to Catholicism.

Writing to St. Jane de Chantal, St. Francis remarked, “I have always said that whoever preaches with love is preaching effectively against the heretics, even though he does not say a single controversial word against them.”

Blessed Maria Gabriella

Born in 1914, Marie Gabriella was a girl of strong will. She was obstinate and rebellious, but with a strong sense of duty and loyalty. She obeyed grumblingly, but she was docile. She would say, “no,” and then go at once to her appointed task.

The sorrows caused by the death of her closest sister brought about a profound change in her life. At the age of 18, people noticed she became gentler. The spirit of prayer and of charity grew in her. At 21, she joined a Trappist monastery. When she became a professed religious, her attitude to God was, “now do what You will.”

In January 1938, shortly before the Octave of Christian Unity, the abbess of the monastery explained to the community the request for prayer and offering for the great cause of Christian Unity. Sister Marie Gabriella felt compelled to offer her young life for this cause.

After consultations with superiors, she made an act of self-offering to God. God accepted her offering. Up until this time she was in good health, but in a few months she had tuberculosis. Sister Marie Gabriella prayed and suffered for the cause of Christian Unity until her death on Good Shepherd Sunday, April 23, 1939.

Pope John Paul II beautified her on January 25, 1983. The Pope called her life “a sign from God” to the Church and a model of “the spiritual ecumenism that is the soul of the ecumenical movement.”

Like Blessed Marie Gabriella, let us pray and sacrifice for the cause of Christian Unity and, like St. Francis de Sales, let us treat other non-Catholic Christians with respect, love, and kindness.