Author Topic: Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, A.D. 2019  (Read 373 times)

J. Thomas Shelley

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Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, A.D. 2019
« on: January 17, 2019, 07:05:29 PM »
Today, the 17th of January, the Commemoration of Anthony the Great, Father of monasiticism, was a pre-Feast, of sorts, for the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity.  The Octave itself begins on the 18th with the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter on the Lutheran and Episcopal calendars and closes on the 25th with the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. 

In the Orthodox Church--which is in dire need of prayer for unity within itself, and for which such prayer is offered with every Great Ektania--the week is framed by the Feasts of Sts. Athanasios and Cyril, Patriarchs of Alexandria on the 18th and Gregory the Theologian, Archbishop of Constantinople on the 25th.

Whether the week be bracketed by first-century Apostles or fourth-century Patriarchs, it affords an opportunity to take to heart the petition of the Great Ektania, particularly the opening four petitions which were woven into the fabric of Lutheran worship in North America some 60 years ago with the publication of the Service Book and Hymnal.

How ironic, that during those six decades intra-Lutheran unity made great strides forward, culminating with nearly adopting a single worship book used by all major bodies in the 1970's, only to stumble and fracture two decades later.

And, to be fair and balanced, the Orthodox Church has had its own internal struggles.  The Patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem remain out of Communion with each other.  That fracture was one of the factors causing the June 2016 meeting in Crete to be something other than a true Ecumenical Council; the fault lines listing participants and non-participants perhaps a preview of greater divisions which may ensue over the status of the Ukrainian Orthodox.

I became acquainted with the beginning of the Great Ektania in my 16th year when my organ teacher insisted that I learn Setting Two of the Service Book and Hymnal.   So for over four decades these petitions have been an important part of my rule of prayer; and this week will be no exception.

Indeed, with all that surrounds us, they may be offered with greater dynamis:

In peace, let us pray to the Lord....Lord, have mercy.

For the peace from above and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord...Lord, have mercy.

For the peace of the whole world, for the stability of the holy churches of God, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord...Lord, have mercy.

For this holy house and for those who enter it with faith, reverence, and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord...Lord, have mercy.

...Commemorating our most holy, pure, blessed, and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commend ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.



« Last Edit: January 17, 2019, 07:07:30 PM by J. Thomas Shelley »
Greek Orthodox-Ecumenical Patriarchate

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

Chrismated Antiochian Orthodox, eve of Mary of Egypt Sunday, A.D. 2015

Michael Slusser

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Re: Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, A.D. 2019
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2019, 10:49:42 AM »
Today, the 17th of January, the Commemoration of Anthony the Great, Father of monasiticism, was a pre-Feast, of sorts, for the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity.  The Octave itself begins on the 18th with the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter on the Lutheran and Episcopal calendars and closes on the 25th with the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. 

In the Orthodox Church--which is in dire need of prayer for unity within itself, and for which such prayer is offered with every Great Ektania--the week is framed by the Feasts of Sts. Athanasios and Cyril, Patriarchs of Alexandria on the 18th and Gregory the Theologian, Archbishop of Constantinople on the 25th.

Whether the week be bracketed by first-century Apostles or fourth-century Patriarchs, it affords an opportunity to take to heart the petition of the Great Ektania, particularly the opening four petitions which were woven into the fabric of Lutheran worship in North America some 60 years ago with the publication of the Service Book and Hymnal.

How ironic, that during those six decades intra-Lutheran unity made great strides forward, culminating with nearly adopting a single worship book used by all major bodies in the 1970's, only to stumble and fracture two decades later.

And, to be fair and balanced, the Orthodox Church has had its own internal struggles.  The Patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem remain out of Communion with each other.  That fracture was one of the factors causing the June 2016 meeting in Crete to be something other than a true Ecumenical Council; the fault lines listing participants and non-participants perhaps a preview of greater divisions which may ensue over the status of the Ukrainian Orthodox.

I became acquainted with the beginning of the Great Ektania in my 16th year when my organ teacher insisted that I learn Setting Two of the Service Book and Hymnal.   So for over four decades these petitions have been an important part of my rule of prayer; and this week will be no exception.

Indeed, with all that surrounds us, they may be offered with greater dynamis:

In peace, let us pray to the Lord....Lord, have mercy.

For the peace from above and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord...Lord, have mercy.

For the peace of the whole world, for the stability of the holy churches of God, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord...Lord, have mercy.

For this holy house and for those who enter it with faith, reverence, and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord...Lord, have mercy.

...Commemorating our most holy, pure, blessed, and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commend ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.
Thanks for the reminder and for the prayers. The situation in Orthodoxy should have us all praying that the communion between Constantinople and Moscow may, by the grace of God, survive.

The World Council of Churches, joined by many individual churches including the RCC, offers materials to be used in this week: https://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/week-of-prayer/week-of-prayer

I continue to pray for the harmony of the Lutheran churches in and among themselves and with my own.

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, A.D. 2019
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2019, 11:16:40 PM »
Thank you, Father.

The penultimate sticheron of today's Orthros Praises was a stark reminder that although the Patriarchs whose memory we keep lived in the 4th Century, perhaps their times were not all that different from our own:

Quote
Praise Him with resounding cymbals;
praise Him with triumphant cymbals;
let everything that breathes praise the Lord.

O Christ, we pray You to visit this your selected flock,
which in the pasture grazes among wolves that are vicious. 
Humble their audacity at the appeals  of Your two holy Hierarchs;
for You can see that the scandals of heresies
even now continue ceaselessly.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2019, 11:51:08 PM by J. Thomas Shelley »
Greek Orthodox-Ecumenical Patriarchate

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

Chrismated Antiochian Orthodox, eve of Mary of Egypt Sunday, A.D. 2015