The week of prayer for Christian unity 2024

The week of prayer for Christian unity 2024

Qua., 17 Jan. 24 Vida do Instituto

Unity is not a goal we can attain with our own strength, but a gift of the Holy Spirit, which we have to invoke with prayer, in syntony with the desire of Jesus, “That they may be one”. (John 17, 21). The Holy Spirit, who allows us to cry “Abba, Father,” unites not only our voices but also our hearts in a chorus of praise. Prayer is transformative and prayer for unity sets us all on the road to fulfill that prayer of Jesus for unity so that the world may believe. This tells us the importance of the week of prayer for the unity of Christians. At the very heart of the ecumenical movement is the reality of prayer. Jesus prayed that we may all be one, united in God in the mystery of the Trinity.

The Institute of the Daughters of the Church has drawn its inspiration and life from the “Ut Unum Sint”, “That they may be one” (John 17, 21), the priestly prayer of Jesus. The unity, to be of one heart and soul, is the constant pleading, aspiration and commitment of our Foundress Mother Maria Oliva Bonaldo, who writes:

“Our incomparable model of union is the union of the Eucharist: Jesus in all; Daily bread for all. ‘The mystery of faith!’ exclaims the consecrating. ‘The mystery of love!’ we exclaim. It would take just a communion to unite us all. Think what would be the return of our separated brethren, if before returning to us, they returned to Him and all together we could seat, ‘like olive branches, round his table”.

Maria Oliva always encouraged her sisters to pray for Christian unity which must be of one heart and soul. It’s a time where you are just conscious about how important it is to pray for the unity of all Christians,

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an eight-day period of universal solemnity, designed to pray for Christian harmony in a unique way. Its history spans 114 years. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was first proposed and its roots began in 1908 as an observance within the Roman Catholic Church by Fr Paul Wattson, founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement in Graymoor, in New York.

Father Paul Wattson, SA, and Mother Lurana White, SA, were the innovators of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which has evolved into an annual ecumenical celebration. During the week, Christians are called to pray for unity within the faith, reflect on scripture and participate in communal services.

The Church Unity Octave, observed on January 18th, the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, and January 25th, the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. The celebration was recognized by Pope Pius X, and in 1916, Pope Benedict XV broadened its observance to the universal church. The name officially changed to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 1963.

Since the founding of the World Council of Churches in 1948, many other Christian denominations around the world have come to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and since 1968, the Faith and Order Commission of the WCC and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity have collaborated to produce materials for use over this eight-day period. 

The celebration is conducted each year with a different religious theme. This year the theme was selected by the Pontifical Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, the World Council of Churches, and the Christian Churches in Burkina Faso, coordinated by the community of Chemin Neuf, a French Catholic and ecumenical community of vowed and lay people and its local community in Burkina Faso. The theme for 2024, which will take place January 18-25, is St. Luke Gospel chapter, 10:25-37, Jesus reaffirmed the traditional Jewish teaching from Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might”; and Leviticus 19:18b, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself”.

The theme, taken from the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke, reflects the connection between love of God and love of neighbor with a particular concern for challenging the boundaries of who is considered neighbor. In this passage, Jesus is questioned as to the path to eternal life. His answer is not only to observe the commandments, but also to imitate the love of God in giving of self for another. It is a call for charity, mercy, justice, and unity.

The parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the best-known passages of Scripture, yet one that never seems to lose its power to challenge indifference to suffering and to inspire solidarity. It is a story about crossing boundaries that calls our attention to the bonds that unite the whole human family. In choosing this passage of Scripture for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Let us join together with Holy Mother Church in prayer and self-reflection that what it means to love our neighbour in the midst of a security crisis. 

The reflections explore how we find our common identity in the experience of God’s love. The resources include an ecumenical opening prayer service, biblical reflections and prayers for eight days, and other elements of worship. We have been invited to live the divine call to love God and our neighbor as ourselves.”