I confess (which seems a solid action to take on the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter), that I don’t always feel confident in this feast day. Christmas seems mere moments ago. I have just settled into my Fierce eating, my Epiphany prayers, my New Year’s resolutions – when I run into this feast like brick wall. I don’t *want* to Feast on this day. Not yet.
Interestingly (and helpfully?) Jan 18 also begins the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This began in 1908 as the Octave of Christian Unity, and focused on prayer for church unity. The dates of the week were proposed by Father Paul Wattson, cofounder of the Graymoor Franciscan Friars. He conceived of the week beginning on the Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter, 18 January, and concluding with the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul on 25 January.
Abbé Paul Couturier of Lyons, France had a slightly different approach from that of Father Wattson. He advocated prayer “for the unity of the Church as Christ wills it, and in accordance with the means he wills”, thereby enabling other Christians with differing views to join in the prayer. In 1935, he proposed naming the observance “Universal Week of Prayer for Christian Unity”
In 1958, the French Catholic group Unité Chrétienne and the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches (a body which includes, among others, most of the world’s Orthodox churches as well as many Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed, United and Independent churches) begin co-operative preparation of materials for the Week of Prayer.
This year’s Week of Prayer’s theme is “They Showed Us Unusual Kindness”, referencing Acts 28:2, when Paul and his crew are shipwrecked on Malta and the islanders sheltered them from the rain and cold with a fire. (Click here for the scripture in context.)
This year, rather than making rocks out of fudge or indulging, I feel like Feasting on Unusual Kindness. I’m going to be decadent with my generosity. At the least, I’m going to contact our local food pantry and stock them up with what they most need.