The inception of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has its roots in a 1907 agreement between Fr. Paul Wattson, SA, and the Reverend Spencer Jones, from England. Within a year, the octave between the January 18 Feast of the Confession of St. Peter to the January 25 Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul was identified as the universal date for this week. By 1963, the event was officially named the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and now carries with it an annual theme of ecumenical and international relevance.
This year’s theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, “You shall love the Lord your God… and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27), calls us to reflect on the connection between love of God and love of neighbor. It is not enough to simply observe the commandments and to love God. We are called to show charity, mercy, justice, and unity to all our neighbors. On a more global level, we are asked to reflect on what it means to love your neighbor in the midst of the national and international security crises plaguing the world.
For those interested in making this 8-day spiritual journey with family and/or friends, there are resources (listed below) created by an international team of religious and lay people, which features a section of “Biblical Reflections and Prayers for the Eight Days.”
Together we Pray, O Gracious Trinity:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that we all may be one as you are one. In your community of complete unity, we have our beginning and our end. To you we pray, asking for the gift of visible unity among all those who believe in your Christ.
As we commemorate this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we are reminded by your Word that all human beings are our neighbors and that we are to love them like ourselves and in the same way we love you. Help us to overcome the barriers and divisions we have nurtured against your will.
Grant to us, O Lord, a new Spirit of love and solidarity, that we may proclaim your good news to all of creation. We ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit are one God, for ever and ever. Amen.