Catholic-Orthodox Communities Join For Prayer
Published: December 24, 2009
ATLANTA—Catholic Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory and His Eminence, Alexios, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Atlanta, along with clergy and the faithful of both churches joined together on Sunday, Dec. 13, in prayer and music at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation to commemorate the Nativity of the Lord.
The Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, Atlanta, served as the site of an ecumenical service Dec. 13 to commemorate the Nativity of the Lord. (Photos by Strati Papageorgiou)
It was the latest gathering as the two Christian churches build ties of unity. The service was an opportunity to pray and reflect once again on the Lord’s prayer “that all may be one.”
In his homily, Archbishop Gregory said, “The Nativity of the Lord Jesus is for all times a paradoxical feast. For on that day, eternity weds time, a Virgin becomes a Mother; humanity associates with Divinity and Spirit cloths itself in flesh.”
Quoting St. Athanasius and St. Gregory the Theologian, Archbishop Gregory said that the unity of the Trinity is a source of hope for both churches in their quest for unity.
He prayed for a time “when we shall perfect our unity in Truth and Faith and Eucharist once again in God’s own time and according to His own plan.”
In his remarks, Archbishop Alexios emphasized the radical gift of God in giving us his only Son and prayed for the unity of our Churches.
An icon of the Nativity was carried in procession throughout the Cathedral before being venerated by both archbishops and clergy.
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, left, processes into the prayer service with His Eminence, Alexios, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Atlanta.
Progress has been made between Orthodox and Catholic leaders. Pope Benedict XVI emphasizes the importance of Christian unity. The pope visited Constantinople, the home of the Orthodox church, while the patriarch spoke to bishops at a gathering focused on Scripture. Locally, in May 2008, a joint Catholic-Orthodox service was held at the Cathedral of Christ the King in observance of the Year of St. Paul.
At the December gathering, the traditional choir of Holy Spirit Catholic Church, the choir and chanters of Annunciation Cathedral sang a beautiful repertoire of Latin and Greek hymnody and popular Christmas carols.
At the end of the service, Father George Alexson, dean of the Cathedral of the Annunciation, thanked all present and prayed that one day, theologians will echo the beautiful unity of the music of both traditions so evident at the service.
The next Catholic-Orthodox service is planned for Tuesday, April 27, 2010, at 7 p.m. at Holy Spirit Church, to celebrate the Easter season.