May 9th is Europe day. On the 9th of May 1950, Robert Schuman presented his proposal on the forming of an organised Europe. This proposal, known as the "Schuman declaration", is considered to be the beginning of the creation of what is now the European Union.
Christians tend to be rather pessimistic about Christianity in Europe. But maybe the changes are bringing about some good? Author and professor of history and religious studies at Penn State University Philip Jenkins gives us food for thought below.
Let us cease the occasion of Europe day on May 9th to pray with renewed fervour for a Christian Europe. Below, we draw your attention to some of the many Europe-related prayers we find in the Our Father. Thank you for praying with us - and for being the “leaven” Jesus spoke of!
For a renewed Christian Europe,
Your Europe for Christ! Team
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Europe’s Christian Comeback
Excerpt; by Philip Jenkins
(…) For all we hear about Islam, Europe remains a stronger Christian fortress than people realize. What’s more, it is showing little sign of giving ground to Islam or any other faith for that matter.
To be fair, the trend is counterintuitive. Europe has long been a malarial swamp for any traditional or orthodox faith. Compared with the rest of the world, religious adherence in Europe is painfully weak. And it is easy to find evidence of the decay. Any traveler to the continent has seen Christianity’s abandoned and secularized churches, many now transformed into little more than museums. But this does not mean that European Christianity is nearing extinction. Rather, among the ruins of faith, European Christianity is adapting to a world in which its convinced adherents represent a small but vigorous minority.
In fact, the rapid decline in the continent’s church attendance over the past 40 years may have done Europe a favor. It has freed churches of trying to operate as national entities that attempt to serve all members of society. Today, no church stands a realistic chance of incorporating everyone. Smaller, more focused bodies, however, can be more passionate, enthusiastic, and rigorously committed to personal holiness. To use a scientific analogy, when a star collapses, it becomes a white dwarf—smaller in size than it once was, but burning much more intensely. Across Europe, white-dwarf faith communities are growing within the remnants of the old mass church. (…)
The result has been a rediscovery of the continent’s Christian roots, even among those who have long disregarded it, and a renewed sense of European cultural Christianity. Jürgen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, “Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter.” Europe may be confronting the dilemmas of a truly multifaith society, but with Christianity poised for a comeback, it is hardly on the verge of becoming an Islamic colony.
Philip Jenkins is distinguished professor of history and religious studies at Penn State University and author of God’s Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe’s Religious Crisis (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007). This text was published on the website of “Foreign Policy Magazine” in June 2007. Please read the full text here: www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php
A Prayer for Europe – The Our Father
Our Father in heaven,
Help us Europeans, Father, to realize and recognise you as our loving father, our Creator, our refuge, our destination. Let us be committed fathers and mothers ourselves, following your example, for the well-being of our children!
hallowed be your name,
Father, today in Europe we are materialistic and individualistic. We only ask: What is my personal gain? Draw us out of ourselves to love and serve you and the people you have entrusted to us.
your kingdom come,
Father, you are the King of my heart! Live in my heart, I offer it to you! Conquer the hearts of the many Europeans who have turned away from you. Use me as your messenger according to your wise decision. It is my great honour to contribute to the coming of your kingdom.
your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Help us, Father, to embrace your holy will, help us to see your handwriting in our lives and to soften our hearts to trust and love your ways. In Europe we ask: What do I really want? Give us your grace to truly search what you want.
Give us today our daily bread.
Father, your children in Europe are in need! There is material poverty many don’t know of. Raise people who can offer relief! I also pray for those who suffer from spiritual poverty. So many of your children in Europe, Father, do not see a meaning in their lives. They do not feel needed or cared for, and they are lonely. Fill our hearts with your love, that we discover you as our father - and that we love our neighbour with your love.
And forgive us our trespasses,
Father, we have sinned against you. You have told us clearly what is important to you and we did not care. As Europeans we ask your forgiveness especially for the attacks on human life. So many unborn babies have died in abortion and more and more sick people ask to be killed. Now we are beginning to lay violent hands on human embryos. You alone are lord of life and death. Forgive us, Father!
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
Loving Father, soften our hearts towards those who sinned against us. Help us to forgive even if the other has not apologized. It is not on us to judge. Help us to be generous as you are generous to us.
And lead us not into temptation,
Father, our European cultures and society are full of temptations. Give us a clear mind to distinguish good from bad. Strengthen our will to serve you faithfully. We pray especially for the many children of yours, Father, whose souls have been harmed by a disintegrated sexuality. Free them and restore their purity!
But deliver us from evil.
Father, evil tries to harm us by giving us wrong ideas. Different philosophies and ideologies have misled our minds. Give us the grace to see your light through all of this. Raise new thinkers who help the many to see.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
Father, yes, the kingdom is yours! And we want to give you the glory, as it belongs only to you! Don’t let go of Europe, save us for the righteous ones – and pour out your spirit to renew our continent. Amen.