January 25 is the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul and the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. What does one have to do with the other?
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity consists of eight days beginning January 18 (the previous date for the feast of the Chair of St. Peter) and ending on January 25, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The celebration was begun by Paul James Wattson, a former Episcopalian priest who eventually became a Catholic priest. Suggestions for prayer and education for the week are distributed each year at geii.org, emphasizing a jointly chosen theme. The 1964 Vatican II document on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, gave a great boost to the octave, so that today many Christians worldwide promote and participate in the octave time of prayer. The emphasis on both Peter and Paul aptly fits into the rationale of the octave. Peter is seen as the source of unity within the Christian tradition; Paul is highlighted due to his vision of bringing all to Christ. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an ideal opportunity to pray for and promote respect, understanding, and, hopefully, eventual unity among Christians.
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