At the beginning of the twentieth century, an Episcopalian priest, Paul Wattson, recognizing how detrimental this attitude is for the salvation of souls, began a movement to bring together in respect and charity, the many branches of Christianity. The main tool in this effort toward unity is prayer. Gradually many churches, including the Catholic Church, joined the movement to pray together for Christian unity and they agreed on a week or octave for this type of cooperative prayer. The octave begins on Jan. 18 and ends on the feast of St. Paul, Jan. 25. During this time we join our hearts and voices, raising to God a manifold plea that each of us will cooperate in changing our own hearts and encouraging others to look with love on those to whom they are bound by a common Baptism.
Eventually Father Paul and his community, Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, along with the women’s group,Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement, entered the Catholic Church - the first fruits of their prayer for unity.
O God, in your mercy you set aright those who have gone astray and you save those whom you have gathered together. We beseech you to pour down upon all Christian people the grace of union with you, so that putting aside disunion and attaching themselves to the true shepherd of your Church, they may be able to serve you humbly and lovingly. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.