The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, traditionally celebrated every year from January 18 to 25, begins today. The theme for this year's initiative, taken from the Gospel of Matthew, is: "Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them." The texts for reflection and prayer this year were prepared by an ecumenical group from Dublin, Ireland, chosen by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and by the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches. Each day of the Week will have a different theme: January 18: United through the presence of Christ. "One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism" (Ephesians 4: 5, 6). January 19: Building Christian unity with Jesus in our midst - daily ecumenism. "You also ought to wash one another's feet" (John 13: 14). January 20: Praying together in Jesus' name. "The Lord waits to be gracious to you" (Isaiah 30: 18). January 21: From the past to the future - forgiveness and healing of memories. "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy times seven " (Matthew 18: 22). January 22: God's presence among us: a call to peace. "The Lord is with us" (Psalm 46). January 23: Mission in Jesus' name. "So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost" (Matthew 18: 14). January 24: Recognizing and welcoming God's presence in the other in Jesus' name. "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me" (Matthew 18: 5). January 25: One in hope. "On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you" (John 14:20). Although the traditional period for celebrating this week of prayer is in the month of January, in the southern hemisphere Churches sometimes seek other periods such as, for example, around the time of Pentecost, which is also a symbolically significant date for the unity of the Church, and was suggested by the Faith and Order movement in 1926. In the basilica of St Paul's Outside-the-Walls at 5.30pm next Wednesday, January 25, the Feast of the Conversion of the Apostle Paul, Pope Benedict XVI will preside at the celebration of Vespers to mark the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Check ICN listings and the parish and diocesan Links page for more information on Christian Unity Week events.
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