January 26, 2016
Christianity was brought to Latvia by Byzantine missionaries in the 10
th century. During the recent Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25), Latvian Christians put together the booklet of daily reflection commissioned jointly by the Vatican and the World Council of Churches.
Probably most of us don’t know much about Latvia. I had to look it up on the map to get a clear picture of its location on the Baltic Sea across from Finland and off the western edge of Russia. With its scenic location and temperate climate – and its democratic parliamentary government -- it is again becoming a tourist attraction after its regaining of independence from the USSR in 1991.
But what interested me was the communion and cooperation among the four main Christian groups – Orthodox, Lutheran, Baptist, and Catholic – who have shared a history of persecution and martyrdom and now work and pray together for the complete healing of the Latvian society from the wounds of the past. A wall in the museum in Riga, the capital, has lists of martyrs from the four Christian traditions. All Churches participated in assembling the resources for the Week of Prayer.
On Day 7, with the theme of “Hospitality for Prayer,” the booklet tells of the Christians in the small town of Madona who have opened an ecumenical prayer chapel. During the Week of Prayer, Orthodox, Lutherans, and Catholics join in continuous round the clock prayer. Their theme is “The challenge from this week is to create more places and protected times of prayer, because as we pray together we become one people.”
The reflection booklet from the recent Week of Prayer for Christian Unity may be downloaded from Vatican or World Council websites.