The week after the feast of St Peter’s Chair in Rome (18th January) and ending with the feast of the Conversion of St Paul on the 25th is time when we pray for the unity of Christians. Unlike the modernist idea of ecumenism as a co-existence or a compromise with those outside of the church, the Chair of Peter Octave began as a time of serious prayer that all people who are separated from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church will one day return to the ‘one fold of the redeemer’ which is governed from the Throne of Peter and outside of which there is no salvation.
Below are several resources to help us to pray for this intention in a way that is faithful to church teaching and which will also help us to align our understanding with the tradition of the Church on the matter of true ecumenism.
Pope Pius XI Encyclical on Religious Unity- Mortalium Animos
The History of the Octave compared to the new Modernist ‘Week of prayer for Christian Unity’
Sermons explaining the four marks of the Church- One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic
OCTAVE OF PRAYER FOR CHURCH UNITY—JANUARY 18-25
(Approved by Pope St. Pius X; extended by Pope Benedict XV to the whole church.)
January 18: (Feast of the Chair of St Peter in Rome) Return of all Christians to the one true Faith and to the Church.
January 19: The return of separated Eastern Christians to communion with the Holy See.
January 20: The reconciliation of Anglicans with the Holy See.
January 21: The reconciliation of European Protestants with the Holy See.
January 22: That American Christians become one in union with the Chair of Peter.
January 23: The restoration of lapsed Catholics to the sacramental life of the Church.
January 24: That conversion of the Jews.
January 25: (Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul) Missionary conquest of the world.
O Mary, Mother of mercy and Refuge of sinners, we beseech thee, be pleased to look with pitiful eyes upon poor heretics and schismatics. Thou who art the Seat of Wisdom, enlighten the minds that are miserably enfolded in the darkness of ignorance and sin, that they may clearly know that the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church is the one true Church of Jesus Christ, outside of which neither holiness nor salvation can be found. Finish the work of their conversion by obtaining for them the grace to accept all the truths of our Holy Faith, and to submit themselves to the supreme Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth; that so, being united with us in the sweet chains of divine charity, there may soon be only one fold under the same one shepherd; and may we all, O glorious Virgin, sing forever with exultation: Rejoice, O Virgin Mary, thou only hast destroyed all heresies in the whole world. Amen.
Hail Mary, three times. An Indulgence of 500 days (S.C. Prop. of the Faith., Dec. 30, 1868;S.P. Ap., March 18, 1936. Raccolta No. 579).
From the traditional Good Friday Liturgy
|Oremus et pro haereticis et schismaticis: ut Deus et Dominus noster eruat eos ab erroribus universis; et ad sanctam matrem Ecclesiam Catholicam atque Apostolicam revocare dignetur.
V. Flectamus genua.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui salvas omnes, et neminem vis perire: respice ad animas diabolica fraude deceptas; ut omni haeretica pravitatae deposita, errantium corda resipiscant, et ad veritatis tuae redeant unitatem. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
Let us pray also for heretics and schismatics: that our Lord God would be pleased to rescue them from all their errors; and recall them to our holy mother the Catholic and Apostolic Church.
P. Let us pray.
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.
Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, who said 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.
Prayer to our Lady, Help of Christians
O Mary, Virgin Immaculate, our Mother and Mother of our God, thou seest how the Catholic Faith is assailed by the devil and the world—that Faith in which we purpose, by the help of God, to live and to die—Do thou, O Help of Christians, renew thy victories as of old, for the salvation of thy children. To thee do we entrust our firm purpose of never joining the assemblies of the heretics. Do thou, all holy, offer unto thy Divine Son our resolutions, and obtain from him the graces necessary for us to keep them unto the end. Bring consolation to the Church, support and protect the Catholic clergy and people who proclaim thee Queen. Hasten, by the power of thy prayers, the day when all nations shall be gathered together in the one true Fold. Amen.
Mary, Help of Christians, pray for us.
Prayer for the Reunion of Christendom
O God, in thy mercy thou dost set aright those who have gone astray and thou dost save those whom thou hast gathered together. We beseech thee to pour down upon all Christian people the grace of union with thee, so that putting aside disunion and attaching themselves to the true shepherd of thy Church, they may be able to serve thee humbly and lovingly. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for Lapsed Catholics
Let us pray. O Almighty Father, who desirest not the death of the sinner, but rather that he be converted and live, pour out upon us thy mercy and hear the prayers of thy servants. Soften the hearts of thy children who have strayed from the true paths, which thou didst establish for their salvation. They are now forgetful of their duties as Catholics, and pursue only the transitory pleasures of the world. Grant that they may speedily return to the practice of every Christian virtue, so that their lives may shine with the integrity of faith, the fervor of piety and the ardor of charity. Restore all of them to thy sacraments and to the life of thy grace, through the merits of the Most Precious Blood of thy Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Prayer to St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles
O glorious Saint Peter, as a reward for thy lively and generous faith, profound and sincere humility, and ardent love, thou wast singled out by our Lord and endowed with most special privileges. Thou wast also constituted Prince of the Apostles, with primacy over the whole Church, of which thou wast made the Rock and Foundation. Obtain for us, we pray, a lively faith and an ardent zeal so that all of us will labor for the return of our separated brethren. May the desire of our divine Redeemer, that there might be but “one Fold and one Shepherd,” be for us, as it was for thee, the inspiration to work and pray for the return of all those who are still outside the Fold. Strengthened by divine Grace, may they be led back speedily to the bosom of our common Mother, the Catholic Church. Amen.
V. O ye holy Apostles Peter and Paul, pray for us.
R. That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.