While I was poking around on the USCCB’s super-handy calendar last night, I happened to notice that we in the middle of the worldwide, Vatican-approved, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The Vatican provides materials for an ecumenical prayer service, prepared by the Student Christian Movement of India (SCMI), but emphasizes that they will have to be adapted to local situations by bishop’s conferences or dioceses.
Given that the SCMI service begins with beating Indian ritual drums and moves on to everyone joining hands, I’m guessing Wyoming would need it adapted somewhat. The USCCB has its own service for the WPFCU, this one prepared by the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil (CONIC) but, typical of the USCCB, you can’t just download it: you have to pay to get materials.
However goofy it may get in this way or that, this Week of Prayer is a neat idea. It was begun by Friars and Sisters of the Atonement, an English group that entered the Catholic Church through the Oxford Movement. The week stretches from the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter (January 18) to the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25). I wish there had been something on our diocesan website, or somebody had mentioned it in a homily, but I’ve only found out about it with a couple of days to go.
I won’t be beating any Indian drums, but I’d invite anyone reading the blog to join me in praying over the coming days for the reunion of Christians. The divisions between Christian denominations is one of those mind-boggling bad things that seems hopeless, that needs a miracle–kind of like the issue of abortion that we in the United States prayed about yesterday.
It seems to me foreshadowed by the division of northern and southern Israel in the Old Testament. The prophets keep coming back to the reunion of Israel as one of the signs of the eschaton, and even the histories worry at this strange happening with endless open-ended comparisons of Joseph and Judah, the tribe of Ephraim and the tribe of Judah, and so on. That the people of God could be split by sin was mind-boggling to them, too, and they looked forward to a miracle.
UPDATE: There some very nice traditional prayers for each day of this octave here. Thanks to Peter Kwasniewski for pointing them out.