Author Topic: Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, A.D. 2021  (Read 343 times)

J. Thomas Shelley

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 3744
    • View Profile
Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, A.D. 2021
« on: January 17, 2021, 08:20:44 PM »
The Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity has begun, with tonight's Vesperal anticipation of the Feast.

In the West, the Octave begins with The Confession of St. Peter on January 18 and closes with The Conversion of St. Paul on January 25.

For new calendar Orthodox, the Octave begins with the Commemoration of Sts. Athanasios and Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, on January 18th and closes with the Commemoration of St. Gregory the Theologian on January 25.

There is, at first glance, a cognitive dissonance with beginning a period promoting Christian Unity by commemorating two Patriarchs who engaged fiercely against the heretics.  Athanasios was a champion of orthodoxy against the Arians; Cyril an equally staunch defender against the Nestorians and Seballians (the latter two denounced in the Confession of Augsburg).

In short, the Patriarchs sought unity within orthodoxy, not some mushy "let's hold hands and sing Kum-by-yah" coexistence with those who would deny the divinity of Christ, and, by extension, the naming of His mother as Theotokos.

+ + +

This year, of course, the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity is overshadowed by American national disunity.   The nation's capital has been turned into an armed has nearly every State capital to a greater or lesser degree.

In this terrible context, the 9th Ode of the Katavasias of the Meeting (Presentation) of the Lord takes on a new layer of meaning, a greater urgency, and a deeper longing:

Ode ix. Katavasia. Mode 3.

Theotokos, as the hope
of us Christians, one and all,
guard and shelter and protect
those who put their hope in you.

O believers, come let us perceive
a type in the law, and the shadow and the letter.
 Every male that opens the womb shall be holy to God.
So the unoriginate Father's firstborn Logos and Son,
who is the firstborn of the Mother who knew not man, we magnify.

"Guard, shelter, and protect"

"Preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States"....SO HELP US GOD!
« Last Edit: January 17, 2021, 08:23:07 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


  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 11143
    • View Profile
    • My Blog
Re: Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, A.D. 2021
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2021, 08:53:41 PM »
Dear Thomas,

I fully recognize the kind intent of your post. But just to register that such is a prayer that I shall never offer because I think it comes dangerously close to making an idol of the most holy Theotokos. Not, holy Mary, but her SON is the hope of us Christians, one and all, and He, who is our Shepherd, will indeed guard, shelter, and protect those who put their trust in Him. It seems odd, thinking of Christian unity, to highlight a prayer in which so many of us cannot join!

In Loehe’s Seed Grains, he provided the 16th century Lutheran reworking of one of the traditional Marian Antiphons (Salve Regina), and I would think THIS is a prayer that we can all join in together (though, of course, the greatest such is the Our Father, which does indeed truly unite the children of God in their petitions!):

All hail! King of mercy. Hail! Thou who art the life, the joy and the hope of our souls. We miserable children of Eve cry unto Thee. We long for Thee, sorrowful and weeping in this vale of tears. Hail, therefore, O Lord Christ! Thou who dost intercede for us with God, turn Thine eyes, beaming with mercy upon us and show Thyself unto us, Thou blessed Son of God and of Mary, when the days of our misery shall have passed. O gracious, gentle, sweet and lovely Jesus Christ. Amen. (P. 118)

William Weedon, Assistant Pastor
St. Paul Lutheran Church, Hamel IL
Catechist on LPR Podcast: The Word of the Lord Endures Forever
A Daily, Verse-by-Verse Bible Study with the Church, Past and Present

+Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum