19 January 2008

"Pray Without Ceasing"

Pope Benedict XVI invites the Church to Pray always, "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17) for Christian unity, so that all believers may profess Christ as their savior. The Pope made his appeal at the end of the general audience on Wednesday 16th January in preparation for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins on Friday 18th January. The Pontiff recalled that the theme for the week is the invitation of St. Paul to the Thessalonians: "Pray Without Ceasing." The invitation is one the Holy Father said he gladly makes "my own and address to the whole Church."
As we know, the ‘The week of Unity Octave Prayer begins on 18th and ends on Jan. 25, feast of the conversion of St. Paul. The 2008 celebration of the week marks the 100th anniversary of the inauguration of the "Church Unity Octave."

It is indeed, necessary to pray without ceasing, insistently asking God for the great gift of unity among all the Lord's disciples. Church stands in need of unity, co-operation and collaboration among churches and other religions. At this juncture, St. Paul, the great missionary of all times, encourage us to "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

What does it mean to pray without ceasing? Our whole lives are to be a seeking of the Lord, convinced that in seeking, we shall find. As Christians in search of unity, we reflect on the concept of Pray without ceasing to find "the will of God in Christ Jesus for us." It is Christ who lives within us. Our call to pray without ceasing becomes part of his eternal intercession to the Father: "That all may be one, ... that the world may believe." The unity we seek is unity 'as Christ wills' and the 'octave' observance of Christian prayer for unity reflects the biblical notion of completion, that someday our prayer will be answered.

Unity is a God-given gift to the church. It is also a call of Christians to live out this gift. Prayer for Christian unity is the source from which flows all human endeavor to manifest full visible unity. Many are the fruits of 100 years of an octave of prayer for Christian unity. Many are also the barriers that still divide Christians and their churches. If we are not to lose heart, we must be steadfast in prayer so that we may seek the Lord and his will in all we do and all we are. "Prayer that joins Jesus' prayer for unity has come to be referred to by some churches as an expression of 'spiritual ecumenism.' This prayer is most intense during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity but needs to flow out of this observance into our daily lives. We realize that Christian unity cannot be solely the fruit of human efforts, but is always the work of the Holy Spirit.

Let us lift our hearts to heaven in prayer, so that the endless strength of the Holy Spirit move us to a sincere commitment to seek unity, that all together we may profess that Jesus is the one Savior of the world. Lord of unity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we pray without ceasing that we may be one, as you are one. Father, hear us as we seek you. Christ, draw us to the unity that is your will for us. Spirit, may we never lose heart. Amen.

Posted by Joseph Kalathil


  1. Dear Joseph,
    It is apt that you have added these thoughts now during the Week of Unity Octave which help others to stand for the Unity of Churches. Really great...

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