Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Jan 18)
January 18, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.
Since 1908 the Octave of Christian Unity has been celebrated from January 18 (Feast of the Confession of St. Peter in some calendars) to January 25 (Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul).  Spearheaded by the World Council of Churches and its member churches, the Catholic Church has also celebrated the week with papal approbation for most of that time and has in recent years hosted an ecumenical vespers service at the Basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls in Rome.  The prayers included here are adapted from the official website of the WCC, from the resources at re:Worship along with additions of collects, music and excerpts from Pope Francis' homilies for the occasion over the years. The theme for this year is  “You shall love the Lord your God … and your neighbour as yourself” (Luke 10:27).  Further information and resources can be found at https://www.oikoumene.org/resources/week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity.  
Day 1 (January 18)
Invitation to Pray (WCC)
Glory to you, Father, for you reveal yourself in your creation and call all people to live in your presence. 
Glory to you, Christ Jesus, for you give yourself entirely to each one of us and invite us to do the same.
Glory to you, Holy Spirit, for you gather us together in love and unity.
Glory to you, God of Love, in whom we are created, redeemed and made one. Amen.
Confession (French Reformed Church)
O God,
whose will it is that all your children should be one in Christ;
we pray for the unity of your Church.
Pardon all our pride and our lack of faith,
of understanding and of charity,
which are the causes of our divisions.
Deliver us from narrow-mindedness,
from our bitterness,
from our prejudices.
Save us from considering as normal
that which is a scandal to the world
and an offence to your love.
Teach us to recognize the gifts of grace
among all those who call upon you
and confess the faith of Jesus Christ our Lord.

In Christ there is no east or west,
in him no South or North, 
but one great fellowship of love
to show his glories forth.

In him do true hearts ev’rywhere
this sweet communion find.
His service we do gladly share
in love to all mankind.

Join hands, then, children of the faith,
whate’er your race may be:
Each one who loves our blessed Lord
share in his victory.

In Christ now meet both East and West,
in him meet South and North.
All blood-bought souls are in him blessed
through them his love flows forth.


Almighty God,
preserve the Church as your holy people
united by the oneness of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
let it be the sacrament that reveals your holiness and unity
and leads the world to the perfection of your love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.  Amen. (ICEL; 1998)
Scripture (Romans 14:8-9)
If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
Psalm (103:13-18)
As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children—
 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.
Unity will not come about as a miracle at the very end. Rather, unity comes about in journeying; the Holy Spirit does this on the journey. If we do not walk together, if we do not pray for one another, if we do not collaborate in the many ways that we can in this world for the People of God, then unity will not come about! But it will happen on this journey, in each step we take. And it is not we who are doing this, but rather the Holy Spirit, who sees our goodwill. (Pope Francis; 2014)
Litany of Praise and Thanksgiving (WCC)
Praise to you Lord for you have poured out your love into our hearts so that we never lose
hope. You free our lives from fear because of your love, and dress our wounded and injured
hearts. Praise to you for all the women and men who sow seeds of love and hope for their
neighbours around the world.
Eternal God, we thank you for the gift of Jesus your Son, the Redeemer of all people. Thanks
be to you for the grace of conversion and all the seeds of faith, hope and charity among your
people and everywhere. Thanks be to you for the faith we received from the apostles, for
Jesus’ prayer for unity, and for the gift of the Good News of salvation.
God of love, we adore you for the generosity of your love for all people – a love so perfect,
it is beyond our understanding; a love in which there is no distinction on grounds of race,
gender or social status. We adore you, who out of love sent your Son, Jesus Christ, into the
world and continue to fill our lives with your love through the Holy Spirit.
Concluding Prayer
God of life,
You have created us to have life, and life in all its fullness.
May we recognise in our brothers and sisters their desire for eternal life.
As we follow Jesus’ way with determination, may we lead others to you.
We pray in his name. Amen.