WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Eight Days of Prayer for Christian Unity

Cardinal John Dew. Photo: Woolf

WelCom May 2018:

‘Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power’ – Exodus 15:6

Over the eight days leading up to Pentecost Sunday the Church invites us into a time of PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY. From 13‒20 May we are invited and strongly encouraged to pray, as Jesus himself prayed, ‘May they all be one’ (John 17:21). We begin on the feast of the Ascension of the Lord, and conclude on Pentecost Sunday.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has already taken place as it does in January each year. In that part of the world it begins with the feast of St Peter and ends with the feast of the conversion of St Paul. I think we are privileged to observe this when we do in the Southern Hemisphere, as we can focus at Pentecost on the power of the Holy Spirit, and rely on that power to bring about UNITY in our Christian Churches.

Last year at our Archdiocesan Synod there was a whole section on ‘Go, you are sent…to fellow Christians’. Some of the proposals, that came out of the discernment on that topic, were:

  • create or combine shared youth groups of all people of faith in the neighbourhood;
  • take every opportunity to invite/attend one another’s event, and share information;
  • provide words for prayers and songs for (at least) weddings and funerals;
  • representatives of all Christian faiths in an area have discussion to seek formal arrangements for co-operation;
  • ways for interaction and partnership – shared liturgies and key events, Scripture studies and prayer groups, service ministries, for example Ministry to seafarers, foodbanks, lunches for elderly, social actions.

I sincerely hope that as parishes continue to plan to implement the proposals from the Synod, being sent to fellow Christian is one of the things you are doing. We have been told many times that ‘ecumenical activity’ is not an optional extra. It is essential for the life of the Church and something all Catholics are asked to be involved in. The Synod proposals give us some ways to do that.

The themes of the prayers this year for each of the eight days between Ascension and Pentecost give us some ideas too. The overall theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is ‘Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power’ (Exodus 15:6). The prayers were jointly prepared and published by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches, and they have been adapted for use in New Zealand. Each day has a theme of its own:

This year I make a very strong appeal to parishes to make these prayers available and to everyone to pray these prayers. Use them at parish weekday Masses; use them as a family at home; use them with a neighbour who belongs to another Christian denomination.These themes give us some hints about practical actions as well as being the focus of our prayer for each of the eight days.

The prayers for the eight days can be found on the homepage of the Archdiocesan website www.wn.catholic.org.nz, in the “Featured” section on the left hand side.

Another option is to pray the prayer below, composed by Fr James Lyons for this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. As Jesus prayed ‘May the all be one’, we pray too.