IT is strange that Catholics in general have never made the prayer of Our Lord " that they may all be one " their own. Indeed, we pray habitually for the conversion of our country and for the work of the Foreign Missions. but we do not easily gather together these petitions for the graces by which the full mission of the Church may be accomplished under the vision of the union of all Christians, at. present divided about equally into Catholics and a host of non-Catholic sects.
Actually the Christian Unity Octave, which will begin on Thursday, was due to the initiative of an American Anglican, and—perhaps for this reason—it has only slowly grown in popularity among Catholics. Yet it was approved of by Pius X; its prayers were indulgeneed by Benedict XV ; Mass for its intentions was offered within the Octave by Pius XI, while the present Pope has announced his intention of doing the same and recommended the Eastern Catholics to join in this world-wide prayer.
We hear less to-day of the indifferentist view that men of goodwill should be left to worship as they please, for it is all too plain that the troubles of the world are due to the consequences of deep opposition between faith and faith, one sincerely observed moral practice and snot her, one view of truth and its opposite. And where the conflict goes deep— deep enough to throw nations into ruinous and cruel warfare—the sources will always be found in a clash to which the epithets " spiritual " and " religious " are not inapplicable. Equally we have all become aware that evil really exists, evil that is more than mere ignorance, and this evil can only be accounted for by the deliberate rejection of the one truth and the one good.
Hence in this particular year of war the Christian ' Unity Octave should make a double appeal. In the first place, we have the words, often repeated, of the Holy Father that true peace cannot again be attained save through the restoration of those inter-related moral principles that are rooted in Christianity and kept in full life by the supernatural grace that is normally mediated through the Church of Christ. Nothing, then, could do more to restore that peace and to preserve it than the welding together of all Christians (who number no less than one in three of the race) into one united and devoted body. In the second place, we, as Catholics, have every reason for standing by that fulness of doctrine and moral teaching for the want of which even the unity of Christendom would prove to he but another of the ineffective attempts to solve the spiritual conflict between nation and nation, man and man, by ignoring its real causes.
On the other hand, we should not allow our realisation that cornpromise is even worse than separa• tion to cause us to neglect every possible avenue whereby a better understanding may be reached and some measure of co-operation attained; still less should we allow it to make us indifferent or even uncharitable towards our fellow Christians who are Cot of the Church. There is a kind of prayer which really means: " May God bring them back; it's no use our trying! " That kind of prayer, which is all too common, is certainly not in the spirit of an Octave in which representative Christians of all denominations are praying, with the Holy Father himself leading the prayers.
The urgency of the matter may be better understood when we appreciate the scandal whicn Christian disunity provokes. In the Outlook, a Missionary News-letter, we read as follows: " Nowhere is the disunion among Christianb so scandalous as in the missions, where the widely differing interpretations of the gospel of Christ are evident to the simplest pagan. Sore et Imes where there are several rival missions close together he will be found to have collected an unanswerable set of arguments against ' the white man's religion ' in the course of his cynical migrations. . . . There are over 400 African separatist bodies in the Union of South Africa alone " And though Europeans and Americans are more used to the division among Christians, many of them are prevented from considering Christianity seriously as the one solution to the ills of the world because of the disagreements among Christians, and still more perhaps because of the lack of charity in their mutual relations.
Let us then join together in the prayers of this Octave, uniting them with the Holy Father's own January intention : " the Christians in the Missions separated from the true Church," and let us take the opportunity of making the resolve to study this vital question so that we may in future, by word and deed, ecbo the prayer: " That they may all be one."