Prayer Group Seeks to Put the Gospel at the Heart of the Hungarian Parliament
Since 2007, the prayer group has been gathering lawmakers from different denominations and political affiliations on a bi-monthly basis to foster a mutual search for the common good.
It is a largely unique initiative in a widely de-Christianized contemporary Europe: Every other Tuesday since 2007, a morning prayer group has been held at the Hungarian Parliament to promote the spiritual development of its members.
Inspired in part by the U.S. National Prayer Breakfast as well as the newer European Prayer Breakfast, which brings together politicians, diplomats and other European officials once a year in Brussels, the Hungarian Parliamentary Prayer Group operates autonomously with a particular national scope. Indeed, while the parliaments of some countries such as Poland or England have historical chapels, this Hungarian initiative stands out for the frequency of its sessions and the allocation of a large room of the parliament’s emblematic Dome Hall for this purpose.
The uniqueness of the initiative was highlighted in a charity concert organized on April 25 by the parliamentary group in honor of Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to Budapest, April 28-30.
Held in the banquet hall of the Hungarian National Museum and featuring world-famous violinist Zoltán Mága, the event included a fundraiser for disadvantaged children. In a packed hall, the organizers proclaimed music as a unique artistic instrument to exalt courage and determination in proclaiming the word of God in our societies. They expressed hope that this event and the Holy Father’s upcoming two-day visit will serve restore courage and spirit to the Hungarian people, and foster greater solidarity among citizens.
The bi-monthly prayer sessions, held at 7:30am, usually attract an average of 30 to 35 people including both members of Parliament and other government officials. Some sessions can attract up to 200 people. The group has been operating continuously since its establishment, automatically reforming itself every four years after the nation’s legislative elections.
This ecumenical and transpartisan initiative, reflecting the variety of the religious and political realities making up the country, is an updated version of the “Parliamentary Prayer Hours” that used to be held in a downtown Protestant church.
The Parliamentary Prayer Group’s symbol is the ichthys, the fish symbol commonly associated with the early Church.
Building on the Rock of Christ
“Our purpose is to focus on Jesus Christ, beyond denominations and factions, in order to promote the search for truth and to promote the spiritual development of our members and the ennobling of their thinking through the teachings of the Gospel,” Parliamentary Deputy Imre Vejkey, a member of the Christian Democratic People’s Party and leader of the Hungarian Parliamentary Prayer Group since its foundation, told the Register.
He said that the allocation of an ad hoc room for this initiative was the result of the tenacity of a dozen parliamentarians who were convinced of the need to make the fundamental teachings of the Christian faith more accessible to public decision-makers.
“As members of parliament, we believe that the commitment to the immutable truth helps us to listen more to the voice of our soul and conscience in the conception of laws and in our decisions,” he said, adding that building their legislative work “on the rock, that is, Jesus Christ,” makes them more aware of their personal responsibility, before their families, their society and nation and before the whole world.
And the group, whose sessions are currently limited to a couple of hours, at the strong request of its members, is contemplating their extension to half-day meetings and dedicated weekends, in addition to the ongoing regular profession of faith and charity events.
“Our group is meant to remind everyone of the need to restore their communion with God,” Vejkey continued. And in this sense, he considers prayer to be “nothing but a response to the Lord’s invisible call,” as “a way of acknowledging his presence in every instant of our life, in our challenges and hardship as well as in our successes.”
“It is with that in mind that we experience the practice of prayer together, which makes our members ‘walk above the ground’ for the whole day after group meetings.”