Wednesday, January 18, 2012

JANUARY 18: Today begins the Church Unity Octave (Week of Prayer for Christian Unity)

The Octave is a period of eight days of prayer (Jan. 18-25) for the reunion of Christendom, the return of lapsed Catholics, and the conversion of unbelievers. It was founded by Fr. Paul James Francis, S.A. in 1908 and blessed by St. Pius X in 1909. Since then it has spread to all parts of the Catholic world. The intentions of the Octave are given below.

Daily Intentions

Jan. 18. FEAST OF ST. PETER’S CHAIR AT ROME [formerly]. The return of all the "other sheep" to the one Fold of St. Peter, the One Shepherd.

Jan. 19. The return of all Oriental Separatists to Communion with the Apostolic See.

Jan. 20. The submission of Anglicans to the Authority of the Vicar of Christ.

Jan. 21. That the Lutherans and all other Protestants (of Continental Europe) may find their way "Back to Holy Church."

Jan. 22. That Christians in America may become One in Communion with the Chair of St. Peter.

Jan. 23. The return to the Sacraments of lapsed Catholics.

Jan. 24. The conversion of the Jews.

Jan. 25. FEAST OF THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL. The Missionary conquest of the world for Christ.

What We Pray For

The unity which all men desire in these dark days cannot be had apart from Jesus Christ; everyone who professes to be Christian admits this. But the unity which Christ offers is that of one fold and one shepherd. The Octave aims to secure for all men this unity of Christ.

As Fr. Paul said: "There is no other unity possible in the divine economy save that which is built upon the same foundation as the one on which Christ Jesus, the Lord and Master, founded His Church, and you know what that foundation is: . . . ‘And I say to thee that thou art Peter, and upon this Rock, I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven (by which He meant His Church) and whatever thou shalt bind upon earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose upon earth shall be loosed also in heaven.’. . . When, therefore, you unite with us in the observance of the Unity Octave it should be to pray specifically that all those who, down through the centuries, have been separated from the Chair of Peter at Rome, may return to Catholic communion, that is to say, communion with the Apostolic See."

The Official Octave Prayer

Form of Prayer Decreed by Pope Benedict XV to be recited daily during the Octave. ANTIPHON. That they all may be One, as Thou, Father, in Me and I in Thee; that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that Thou has sent Me.
—John 17:21

V. I say unto thee thou art Peter.
R. And upon this Rock I will build my Church.


O Lord Jesus Christ, who saidst unto Thine Apostles: Peace I leave with you, My Peace I give unto you: regard not our sins, but the faith of Thy Church, and grant unto her that peace and unity which are agreeable to Thy will; Who livest and reignest God forever and ever. Amen.


(attached to official prayer) Granted by rescript of December 10, 1946, by His Holiness, Pope Pius XII, through Nicola Cardinal Canali.1. Partial indulgence of 800 days on each day of the Octave in any Church or public oratory where the exercise is performed.2. Plenary indulgence under usual conditions at the completion of the Octave.

Lord Jesus, most gracious Saviour of the world, we humbly beg of Thee by Thy Most Sacred Heart, that all the sheep now wandering astray may be converted to Thee, the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls: Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen. (Raccolta, 625: 500 days)

Prayer to Our Lady

Priest and People: O Virgin Immaculate who was preserved by a singular privilege of grace from original sin look down with pity upon our separated brethren who are still your children and call them back to the Center of Unity. Many have, even from afar preserved a most tender devotion towards you, O Mother. Reward them for their devotion by obtaining for them the grace of conversion. Victorious over the powers of hell from the very first moment of your existence renew, now that the necessity is more urgent your triumphant progress, as in ages past. Glorify your Son, O Mother by bringing back to the One Fold His straying sheep making them obedient to the guidance of the universal Shepherd who is His Vicar on earth. And may it be your glory, O Virgin Mary to banish error from the earth to put an end to disunity and to restore peace to the world. Amen. (Raccolta, 627: 500 days.)

Our Lady of the Atonement, intercede for us that there may be fulfilled the prayer of your divine Son: That all may be one.

Prayer to St. Peter

O glorious Saint Peter, who, in return for thy lively and generous faith, thy profound and sincere humility, and thy burning love, wast honored by Jesus Christ with singular privileges, and in particular, with the leadership of the other Apostles and the primacy of the whole Church, of which thou wast made the foundation stone, do thou obtain for us the grace of a lively faith, that shall not fear to profess itself openly, in its entirety and in all of its manifestations, even to the shedding of blood, if occasion should demand it, and to the sacrifice of life itself in preference to surrender. Obtain for us likewise, a sincere loyalty to our holy mother, the Church; grant that we may ever remain most closely and sincerely united to the Roman Pontiff, who is the heir of thy faith and of thy authority, the one, true, visible Head of the Catholic Church, that mystic ark outside which there is no salvation. Grant, moreover, that we may follow, in all humility and meekness, her teaching and her counsels, and may be obedient to all her precepts, in order to be able here on earth to enjoy a peace that is sure and undisturbed, and to attain one day in heaven to everlasting happiness. Amen. 
V. Pray for us, Saint Peter the Apostle.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

LET US PRAY O God, who hast given unto Thy blessed Apostle Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and the power to bind and loose: grant that we may be delivered, through the help of his intercession, from the bonds of all our sins: Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen. (Raccolta, 484: 500 days.)

How to observe the Octave:

1. Recite official prayer daily.
2. Assist at Mass and receive Communion daily.
3. Pray the Rosary daily for Unity.
4. Attend Octave exercises in parish church or parish in vicinity; bring non-Catholic friends with you.
5. Visit the Blessed Sacrament; make the Way of the Cross; perform spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
6. Offer daily action for Unity.
7. Read Catholic literature.
8. Give good example to Catholics and non-Catholics.

Imprimi Potest:Angelus F. Delahunt, S.A., Superior Geoeral
Nihil Obstat:Edward Haoahoe, S.A., Censor Deputatus
Imprimatur:X Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York

The Nihil Ohstat and Imprimatur are official declarations that a hook or pamphlet is free of doctrinal or moral error. No implication is contained therein that those who have granted the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions or statements expressed.

From an original leaflet published by
Chair of Unity Octave
Graymoor, Garrison, New York


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