From today’s Gospel, again from John 17: ‘I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one …’

It is entirely suitable that these words of Our Lord are given to us on a Thursday, a day particularly commended to us for prayer for the unity of all Christians.

St John Henry Newman prayed thus: ‘O Lord Jesus Christ, who, when Thou wast about to suffer, didst pray for Thy disciples to the end of time that they might all be one, as Thou art in the Father, and the Father in Thee, look down in pity on the manifold divisions among those who profess Thy faith, and heal the many wounds which the pride of man and the craft of Satan have inflicted upon Thy people. Break down the walls of separation which divide one party and denomination of Christians from another. Look with compassion on the souls who have been born in one or other of these various communions which not Thou, but man hath made. Set free the prisoners from these unauthorised forms of worship, and bring them all into that one communion which thou didst set up in the beginning, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Teach all men that the see of St Peter, the Holy Church of Rome, is the foundation, centre, and instrument of unity. Open their hearts to the long-forgotten truth that our Holy Father, the Pope, is thy Vicar and Representative; and that in obeying Him in matters of religion, they are obeying Thee, so that as there is but one holy company in heaven above, so likewise there may be but one communion, confessing and glorifying Thy holy Name here below.

May St John Henry’s prayer assist our own efforts for the unity of the Church, and  may God bless you this day.