“The ship of ecumenism would never have put out to sea had she not been lifted by this broad current of prayer and wafted by the breath of the Holy Spirit.”
Pope Benedict XVI on the occasion of the centenary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (2008)
For more than a century, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has brought together divided Christian communities in common prayer.
In the northern hemisphere, the traditional period for the observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is January 19-25. Those dates cover the days between the symbolically significant feasts of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, the two pillars of the undivided church.
Each year the World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity invite the churches of a different region of the world to produce prayer resources for use internationally. Canada was invited to create liturgical resources for the 2014 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Common prayer among divided Christians is sometimes overlooked as an important aspect of ecumenism. We may not yet all be able to share in one eucharist, but there are many other forms of prayer in which Christians of different traditions can join together as we journey toward that goal. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is a singularly important occasion for such common prayer. Jesus himself prayed that his followers “may be one … so that they may be brought to complete unity” (John 17:23). Praying for the healing of the church’s divisions—and doing so together as often as possible—is an essential part of the ecumenical task.