Tomorrow is the beginning of the Week for Prayer for Christian Unity
. I’m sure that by now you know that we observe this week every year in January, from the 18th, which is the Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter, to the 25th, which is the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. Did you know that it’s been taking place since 1908? It is celebrated worldwide; however, in the southern hemisphere, where January is a time of vacation, the week is often celebrated during the Pentecost season, also a time symbolic of Christian unity. The dates in January were proposed by Servant of God Fr. Paul Wattson, SA, who was the founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement.
Since the foundation of the World Council of Churches
in 1948, the Week has also been observed by other Christian denominations. Since 1968, the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
have collaborated to produce materials for use during this eight-day period. The hope is that by praying in harmony with people around the world during one week we are fulfilling Christ’s desire when he prayed “that they all be one” (John 17:20).
Every year has a different theme, and a group from a different country prepares the resources each year. The theme this year comes from the second chapter of Matthew: “We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him”
(Mt 2:2). And it was prepared by the Middle East Council of Churches
, based in Beirut, Lebanon.
The Canadian website
for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity says that this theme and this year’s resources “speak to our world’s urgent need for solidarity and transformation in the face of political, economic, and social turmoil, including the challenges and injustices highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As we join the Christians of the Middle East in the journey to Christ’s manger, may we become a sign of the unity that God desires for all creation, and may we return to our home, our churches, and our world by new ways.”
Ideally, in every community, Christian churches would come together for daily prayer or one big ecumenical prayer event. The pandemic may make this difficult. However, since most of our lives have moved online, you may be able to participate from a vast option of virtual events that may be offered from around the world. If you would like to plan your own events, or include the prayers in your own daily devotions, the resources offer a different theme for each day:
Day 1: “We observed his star in the East” (Mt 2:2). Raise us up and draw us to your perfect light.
Day 2: “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?” (Mt 2:2). Humble leadership breaks down walls and builds up with love.
Day 3: “When king Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him” (Mt 2:3). The presence of Christ, turning the world upside down.
Day 4: “And you, Bethlehem… are by no means least” (Mt 2:6). Though small and suffering, we lack nothing
Day 5: “Ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising” (Mt 2:9). Guided by the one Lord.
Day 6: “They saw the child with Mary his mother, and they knelt down and paid him homage” (Mt 2:11). Gathered in worship around the One Lord.
Day 7: “Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Mt 2:11). The gifts of communion.
Day 8: “They left for their own country by another road” (Mt 2:12). Beyond the familiar routes of separation to God’s new paths.
All the resources can be found through the World Council of Churches
. Canadian resources for the 2022 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity have been prepared by the ecumenical WPCU Writing and Animation Team of volunteers from member churches of the Canadian Council of Churches
working in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism
and the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism
You can find those resources through the Canadian Council of Churches
, and you can download the prayer booklet here
To learn more about Christian unity and ecumenism, you can read Deacon-structing Ecumenism
. You can also learn more about the Church’s ecumenical work and efforts through the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Lastly, you may be interested in visiting our blog for One Body
, our monthly blog series that explores issues and ideas that come out of our search for Christian unity. The most recent post
, by guest writer Fr. Alexander Laschuk, deals with the theme for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Let us pray together for that solidarity and transformation that our world so desperately needs and that Christ, our Light, may guide us to unity.
Lord God, illumine our path by the light of Christ who moves before us and leads us. Enlighten us and dwell within us. Guide us to discover a small manger in our hearts where a great light still sleeps. Heal our divisions and draw us closer to the Light that we may find our unity in him. May we all be one.
In every blog post, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: email@example.com