Thursday, January 03, 2008

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity - January 18-25, 2008

The following is a letter from Bishop Patrick J. McGrath to all pastors of the Diocese of San José regarding the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Click here for a signed, pdf copy of the Bishop's letter.

January 1, 2008

Dear Father,

As you are aware, each year the Church celebrates January 18-25 as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This week of prayer constitutes an ideal time to bring to our people an awareness of the ecumenical mission of the Church. In addition, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity provides us with an excellent opportunity for our parishes and institutions to deepen our ecumenical spiritual life in union with our fellow Christians.

The 2008 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity marks 100 years since the Society of the Atonement began praying for Christian unity. Today, the tradition continues with the encouragement of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches’ Faith and Order Commission.

The theme for the 2008 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:12a, 13b-18).

With this in mind, I write to encourage you and to give you permission to observe Sunday, January 20, 2008, as a special day of prayer for Christian Unity and to substitute the prayers of the Mass of the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time with the prayers of the Mass for the Unity of Christians (#13, Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions, A or B, Sacramentary, p. 889-891). In addition, you are free to use either the Preface for Christian Unity (#76 in the Sacramentary) or the new Eucharistic Prayer I, “The Church on the Way to Unity,” with its proper Preface.

I would also request that you include a petition for the unity of all Christians in the Prayer of the Faithful on that day.

Lastly, although the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity traditionally focuses on our relations with other Christians, I would like to encourage you to keep in mind the importance of doing all that we can to maintain good relations with the leaders of the many non-Christian religions that abound in Santa Clara County.

I thank you for your generosity in ministry and, in particular, for your attention to the ecumenical and inter-faith endeavors.

With every best wish and kind regard, I remain,

Sincerely yours,

Patrick J. McGrath
Bishop of San José


Below are some intercessions you can include in the Sunday Masses during the weekend of January 19-20, 2008. Please feel free to adapt and translate these according to your needs.

For the entire body of Christ into which all Christians are baptized: [pause]
for the grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ;
for an appreciation of our differences,
the acknowledgement of our need for each other,
and the untiring effort to be one body united in one Spirit.
We pray to the Lord.

For all who have been hurt by the division among Christians: [pause]
for ecumenical families and households;
for church leaders and their congregations;
for the light of salvation to descend upon all the nations
and the Spirit of God over all the ends of the earth.
We pray to the Lord.

In addition, the Web site of the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute may be helpful for you in your planning. Resources include homily notes specifically for January 21, 2008, which coincides with Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday and prayers and reflections in Spanish and English.