2023 Day of Judaism and Christian Unity Week

Christians have been joining together for an octave of ecumenical prayer (January 18-25) for 115 years. This observance seeks the fullness of unity in Jesus’ prayer:

“I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.” (John 17:20-21, New American Bible)

This tradition of praying for peace and harmony, once referred to as the Church Unity Octave (eight days) and now called the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, was established in January 1908 by Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement in Graymoor, NY. Over the years, it has flourished into global observance by people of all denominations throughout the world.

The Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute’s, “Brief History of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, January 18-25, 2020,” provides an excellent outline of the historical development of the prayer for unity. Refer also to my 30-minute interviews “Prayer for Christian Unity in the Context of Christian Unity Week” with Monsignor John A. Radano and “Christian Ecumenism and the Society of the Atonement” with Sister Lorilei Fuchs, SA, of blessed memory.

In the 1990s, the Bishops of Italy in partnership with leaders of the Jewish community promoted a “Day of Judaism” for January 17th on the eve of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The Bishops of Poland, Austria and other European countries have adopted similar annual days of Christian-Jewish reflections with variations.

A liturgical day of remembrance, the “Day of Judaism” reminds all Christians to explore the roots of Christianity in its Jewish matrix and to value the enduring significance of Judaism and its Sacred Scriptures. This reflection on the Biblical heritage that we share with the Jewish people is an ideal way to inaugurate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The theme for the 2023 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is “Do good; seek justice” (Isaiah 1:17) and this year’s texts for use each day was prepared by the Minnesota Council of Churches.

“The context from which these materials were first drafted is the aftermath of the extrajudicial killing of George Floyd and the trial of the police officer responsible for his death. As the Christian communities of Minnesota sought to respond to the anguish of these events they also recognised their own historical complicity in perpetuating divisions which have contributed to racial injustice. The Church is called to be the sign and instrument of the unity God desires for the whole of His creation (cf. Lumen gentium, 1) but the division between Christians weakens the Church’s effectiveness. Christians must repent of their divisions and work together in order to be a source of reconciliation and unity in the world.” (“Texts for 2023 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity,” The Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity)

The suggestions for each day of the week of prayer are available on the website of the Friars of Atonement at https://www.atonementfriars.org/2023-week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity/.

May these days of interfaith and ecumenical prayer and reflection lead us to implement just deeds that effect peaceful relations throughout our world!

2 thoughts on “2023 Day of Judaism and Christian Unity Week

  1. According to information from the UN, today there are about 27 cases of war in the world and this is because people have forgotten or are ignoring God’s message through the prophet Isaiah to do good and build a society of people who care for harmony and coexistence by enhancing peace and justice.
    I appreciate the efforts made by various people who pray for the unity of Christians, good relations with people of other faiths, and all those who deal with achieving peace and justice in their communities.

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