On Friday the 23rd, Radio Maria NY hosted a special program on the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Since 1898, traditionally observed in the northern hemisphere from the 18th to the 25th of January and formerly known as the Octave of Christian Unity, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity involves Christian communities and Churches across the world, including the Catholic Church.
Launched over a century ago by Fr. Paul James Francis Wattson, SA (1863 – 1940) founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement at Graymoor, Garrison, NY, since its inception the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity fostered reconciliation and healing through atonement — the unity of men and women with God and with one another. Fr. Paul was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1886. In 1908, he initiated the Church Unity Octave believing that a time set aside for prayer and seminars would hasten Christian unity. An advocate of corporate reunion between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, he finally embraced Roman Catholicism. In 1909, the Society of the Atonement became the first religious community of Christians to be received corporately into the Roman Catholic Church since the Reformation. Fr. Paul was ordained a Catholic priest by Archbishop John M. Farley in 1910.
(More on the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute (GEII), at: http://atonementfriars.org and http://geii.org/week_of_prayer_for_christian_unity/)
“Since 1968, the resource material for reflection, prayer and celebration on a chosen theme for the Week of Prayer for Christain Unity is jointly issued by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches (WCC). This year the theme was: “Jesus said to her: “Give me to drink“, taken from the episode of the Samaritan woman at the well, in John’s Gospel.”
In his recent meeting with the men and women religious, the Pope spoke extensively about ecumenism suggesting the three main ingredients for a fruitful dialogue:
The Pope spoke of three conditions at the core of the search for Christian unity – firstly, there’s no unity without conversion of heart, which includes forgiving and asking for forgiveness. Secondly he said there is no unity without prayer and therefore men and women religious who pray for unity are like ‘an invisible monastery’ bringing together Christians of different denominations from different countries around the world.Thirdly, the Pope said, there is no unity without holiness of daily life. so the more we put our search for unity into practise in our relations with others, the more we will be modelling our lives on the message of the Gospel.
(Read full article: Pope concluding Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at: http://www.news.va
More insights available:Pope Francis: Religious who pray for Christian unity an “invisible monastery”at http://www.news.va
Resource material for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2015 is available at: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/
Our host of the day was Fr. James Loughran, S.A., Director of the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute (GEII), a ministry of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement headquartered at Graymoor, New York. Today, this Roman Catholic religious community continue working and ministering to people of every race, religion, and walk of life in the United States, Canada, England, Italy, and Japan.