This weekend we are in the midst of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Our bishops have acknowledged the need for unity and have urged Catholics to participate in this week of prayer. Fr. James Loughran, Director of the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute (GEII), has been an articulate spokesman in this call for unity. He reminded us that in this time of the COVID-19 virus, our world has become smaller and that more than ever we need to appreciate the value and importance of Christian unity.
During this week, we are asked to unite in prayer with our Christian brothers and sisters. We are invited to pray for unity among the Christian Churches, and also for peace in our world, peace in our homes, and peace in our hearts.
Pope Francis has often expressed his desire for Christian unity. He is concerned with the great turmoil in the world, especially due to the sustained impact of the COVID-19 virus, the ongoing problems in the Middle East, and with divisions within our Churches. Reflecting on this need for unity, as noted in the publication “America”, Our Holy Father “marked the 25th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s encyclical on Christian unity, ‘Ut Unum Sint’ (‘that all may be one’), by reaffirming the church’s ‘irrevocable’ commitment to work for unity among the world’s roughly 2.3 billion Christians.”
He stated, “Unity is not chiefly the result of our activity, but a gift of the Holy Spirit. Yet, 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.” Pope Francis has indicated that he wants us to be united by the power of the love which the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts.
The following prayer for unity provided by the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute reflects the spirit of this special week:
O God, Your right hand is glorious in power.
Extend Your hand to help us discover new ways that unite your people in the body of Christ, the Church.
May the strength of Your hand take away all misunderstanding and prejudice that hinder our calling to be one in body and spirit.
Draw us together in the bond of peace, of faith, and charity that we may be one in Jesus our Lord
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.
As we reflect on this prayer, and the words of Our Holy Father, and as we answer our call to discipleship in these difficult and uncertain times, we are challenged to continue to pray for unity, especially among our Christian Churches, as we continue on our journey of faith.