Today we begin what was called for decades the Church Unity Octave, 18-25 January inclusive.  The purpose of the octave is to pray for the unity of the whole Catholic Church.  This octave was originally approved by St. Pope Pius X in 1909.  Benedict XV extended it for use in the universal Church in 1916.  It’s observance is option, but it was highly recommended.

January 18 through 25 Official Octave Prayer (to be recited daily)

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 hast sent Me. (John 17:21)

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

Let us pray: O Lord Jesus Christ, Who saidst untoThine Apostles peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you, regard not our sins, but the faith of Thy Church, and vouchsafe to grant unto Her that peace and unity which are agreeable to Thy Will Who livest and reignest, God, forever and ever Amen

First Day of the Octave (January 18th) The Feast of St. Peter’s Chair at Rome.

Intention of the Day: the return of the “other sheep” to the One Fold of Christ.

Prayer for the Return of the Other Sheep

Priest: Let us pray: 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. People: Amen.

Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Priest and People: O Immaculate Virgin, who wast preserved by a singular privilege of grace from original sin, look down with pity upon our separated brethren, who are still thy children, and call them back to the Center of Unity. Many have, even from afar, preserved a most tender devotion towards thee, 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 thine existence, renew, now that the necessity is more urgent, thy triumphant progress, as in ages past. Glorify thy Son, O Mother, by bringing back to the One Fold His straying sheep. And may it be thy glory, O Virgin Mary, to banish error from the earth, to put an end to disunity and to restore peace to the world. Amen.

Priest: Our Lady of the Atonement intercede for us.
People:That there may be fulfilled the prayer of thy Divine Son, “That all may be one.”

Prayer to St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles

Priest: O glorious St. Peter, as a reward for thy lively and generous faith, thy profound and sincere humility, and thy 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 wert 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 wast 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. People: Amen.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Supertradmum says:

    Are these prayers supposed to be said in Church? I have never heard these said recently, at least. The priest mentioned the Octave this morning and then asked for prayers for the Coptic Christians, who are daily persecuted. I like the connection, but I think more explanation of the Octave is merited. I would like to hear more prayers for the Orthodox Church. And, could we add the SSPX onto this list for unity?

  2. a catechist says:

    thanks for this! I also added a prayer of thanksgiving for all the converts we have already, esp. priests who converted.

  3. Pingback: Church Unity Octave | Quicksilver to Gold

  4. Centristian says:

    Beautiful. Just beautiful.

    Add to those prayers, today, a prayer that the Church of the West will get her house in order and her liturgical act together so that the (separated elements of the) Church of the East may not consider reunion with the West laughable. NeoCat Way, indeed. What must foolishness like that look like to a sincere Byzantine Christian? Why should they imagine a need to be united with a Church that actively promotes that kind of inexplicable screwball? The NeoCats are but one example, however, of the things the Church of the West needs to drop like a bad habit before the Orthodox can be expected to embrace Rome once more.

    On the other hand, add a prayer of thanksgiving for the Anglicans who have come our way of late and for the fact that we aren’t so far gone that upright Protestants still sense that we have more integrity than their own churches. Yes, thank the Lord for that, at least. I’m sure it helps that they are allowed to bring along with them a heritage of public worship that is actually superior to what the Roman Church has today (for the most part, at least).

    The SSPX…well…they’re not actually separate, they’re just chronically and impenitently disobedient. Remember that there are no SSPX laity. The so-called Society of St. Pius X is just a collection of disobedient, illegitimately ordained Catholic priests who, together, style themselves according to the name of a fraternity that was dissolved in the 70s. Unity doesn’t really have much to do with them, at all, in fact. They don’t need to reunite with Rome, they just need to learn that Rome’s authority is not theirs to wield.

    As with the Orthodox, however, Rome needs to stop giving the Lefebvrists a legitimate reason to imagine that they are actually better off if they are not subject to her. Should the Orthodox yet maintain their distance and the Lefebvrists their disobedience once Rome has gotten her house in order again, then the shame be upon them, and not us. For the moment, however, we’ve all got some explaining to do to the Lord.

  5. Simon_GNR says:

    This coming Sunday evening we’ve got an ecumenical “Unity Service” at our Church, it being our turn to host the annual town gathering of Christians of diverse traditions during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. There may even be one or two people in the congregation I recognise from one of the local Anglican churches, which was the church I belonged to 30 years ago. Somehow I don’t think our parish priest will be using the above official Octave prayers – they’re not very conciliatory! I’m intending to go to this service to try to help ensure there is a good turnout from the “home team”. I hope that as a Church we will be welcoming and hospitable to our “separated brethren” from other local ecclesial communities, and that they go away with a good impression of grass-roots Catholicism in England. Who knows, with our eloquent and enthusiastic parish priest playing a prominent part, seeds of curiosity about the virtues and merits of Catholicism may get planted in a few Protestant minds or hearts! The local baptist pastor is highly thought-of by many people locally – wouldn’t it be great if he were to see the light, become a Catholic and ultimately be ordained priest! It’s not impossible!!

  6. Will Elliott says:

    Father Phillips at Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio has a post at his blog with the intentions for all eight days plus more information about this Octave of Prayer as promoted by Father Paul of Graymoor.

  7. Father G says:

    Here is a prayer that I say for unity that was composed by Blessed Leonid Feodorov, a Russian Byzantine Catholic exarch and martyr, who prayed for the reconciliation of Russia to the Catholic Church:

    O Merciful Lord Jesus, Our Savior, hear the prayers and petitions of Your unworthy sinful servants who humbly call upon You and make us all to be one in Your one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. Flood our souls with Your unquenchable light. Put an end to religious disagreements, and grant that we Your disciples and Your beloved children may all worship You with a single heart and voice. Fulfill quickly, 0 grace-giving Lord, your promise that there shall be one flock and one Divine Shepherd of Your Church; and may we be made worthy to glorify Your Holy Name now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

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