Celebrating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that begins on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 and continues until the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul on Tuesday, January 25, is a good opportunity for even small parishes to celebrate ecumenical liturgies such as the Liturgy of the Hours at which all Christians can participate and even preside. My pastor and others from our parish have shared in events held at Duke Divinity School which included opportunities for study and reflection on our common Christian faith as well as a prayer service at which our local ordinary presided together with Methodist, Orthodox, and other Christian clergy using the annual brochure published jointly by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches. At our parish we begin the week with the Mass For Unity of Christians (Lectionary 811, Sacramentary 889), have for several years invited members of our neighboring Methodist community and a nearby Lutheran church to come together for study days using David Aune’s Rereading Paul Together (Baker 2006) throughout the week, and concluded together with Evening Prayer on the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul at which we have had members of the different ecclesial communities host, preside, and preach. The following day, January 26, is the obligatory memorial of Paul’s companions, Saint Timothy and Saint Titus, which makes for a nice continuation of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Even if your parish is unable to host or participate in ecumenical worship throughout the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, it would be appropriate for the Masses on Sunday, January 23, to include petitions for Christian unity (see RCIA 496 as a model) among the Prayer of the Faithful and to familiarize yourself and your parish with the ecumenical ministry of the Roman Catholic Church by (re)reading Unitatis Redintegratio (the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism), the Joint Declaration on the the Doctrine of Justification, and other documents of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Excerpted from Andrew Casad’s regular column of notes for liturgists that appear in the January-February issue of LTP‘s Pastoral Liturgy.

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