The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Today, we begin the 2008 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Observed each year from the Confession of St. Peter (January 18) through the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25) the Week of Prayer celebrates its centennial this year. In 1908 the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement held the first “Church Unity Octave” and have prayed “without ceasing” for Christian unity ever since!

Today, Christians around the world celebrate this week with the encouragement of the World Council of Churches’ Faith and Order Commission and the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Why the Week of PRAYER (rather than, say, the week of “dialogue” or “documents”)? Because, in the words of Cardinal Walter Kasper:

“Ecumenical work is a spiritual task and can be nothing other than participation in the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus. This means prayer, especially common ecumenical prayer, for the unity of Christians. Prayer will always gather people, in the same way as Mary and the apostles gathered, to pray for the coming of the Spirit which will unite the peoples in one language, and to pray for a renewed Pentecost (Acts 1:13f)” [from “That They All Be One: The Call to Unity Today”]  

5 Responses to “The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity”

  1. Reverend boy Says:

    There was an article in the NYTimes today about the ecumenical movement. One of the things it spoke about what how the our ecumenical relations are moving towards more of a celebration of diversity of our traditions and a struggle for to claim the identities of our traditions rather than striving towards a more visible unity.

    Do you see this as the wave of the future, so to speak, for ecumenism?

  2. ecubishop Says:

    Yes, I saw the article and think there is some truth in it. The Episcopal Church — since 1979 — has offered a vision of a “communion of communions” as its proximate ecumenical strategy. This involves full eucharistic hospitality, the interchangeability of ministers and ministries, some joint planning organ — but stops short of the “merger” into one “super church.”

    This approach celebrates “unity in diversity” and is the kind of thing suggested by the NY Times columnist. I would want to emphasize, however, the proximate nature of this goal. It is the “ecumenism of the possible” but still leaves us short of “full, visible unity” which I continue to believe is Christ’s will for the Church.

    It is that for which I will continue to work and pray during this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and beyond…

  3. Bosco Peters Says:

    As we grow in union with God we can be united with each other and maintain diversity.

  4. A Free Spirit Says:

    I just read an article on regarding unity in the Catholic Church without cultural uniformity. I then wrote a post about the relationship of unity and doctrinal uniformity. In general terms, does unity require uniformity?

  5. Jaymie Sobey Says:

    I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, and I believe it’s an issue that most people should be commenting on. One can’t plan to get anywhere if we merely keep our heads buried in the dark.

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