From today until the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, we observe the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity. We are aware of individual days of prayer–a day of prayer for world peace or a day of prayer for vocations or whatever, but an Octave of Prayer, eight days, underlies the importance of the intention. Since the divisions of Christian churches, we have come to understand the depth of Jesus prayer in St. John’s Gospel, “that all may be one”–the great monologue of Jesus at the Last Supper. It is, in John’s Gospel, both Jesus final Testament and his inauguration of the Church. The fitting conclusion of the Octave of prayer is the Feast of St. Paul’s conversion. Paul, the learned Pharisee from the tribe of Benjamin, was dramatically converted to Christ and founded the churches that linked Jewish Christianity to the Gentile world. Those gentile churches formed the core of what would become the Eastern Orthodox churches; yet he died in Rome, the root of the Roman Catholic Church. During the Reformation, the epistles of Paul would greatly shape the theology and spirituality of the Protestant churches. He is a fitting symbol of our common ground and commitment to the Gospel.
May our prayer and our practice of the Gospel bring us closer as one flock.