The Chair of Unity Octave
St. Peter, the Foundation Stone of Christ’s True Church the Feast of St. Peter’s Chair at Rome is celebrated on January 18th. This important Feast was instituted, in part, in response to the ridiculous rumor spread by ignorant Protestant heretics that St. Peter had never come to Rome. Yet, following his seven year reign in Antioch, St. Peter did in fact travel to Rome to establish his See, and there shed his blood for our Crucified Savior. This Feast also enshrines the solemn dogma of Papal Infallibility, and the Supreme Apostolic Authority conferred upon St. Peter by Our Divine Lord. St. Paul the Apostle likewise came to Rome towards the close of his apostolic career, and was also martyred there for Christ. The Feast of his Conversion is observed on January 25th. Holy Mother Church has always united her praises for the Prince of the Apostles, St. Peter, with Her veneration for the zeal and holiness of St. Paul, a “vessel of election” for the spread of the infant Church. Thus, She has reserved eight days of solemn prayer–from the Feast of St. Peter’s Chair at Rome until the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul–for the observance of “The Chair of Unity Octave”; eight days of solemn prayer for the Apostolic Catholic Church.
These eight days of solemn prayer for Unity possess a doctrinal significance which is of critical importance. As Catholics know, one of the chief essential “Marks” (or visible qualities) of the Church established by Christ is that Unity for which He prayed at the Last Supper. As Jesus asked “that they may be one…”, His prayer was immediately granted by the Eternal Father, as it was the request (on the very eve of His death) of His Only Begotten Son, to Whom nothing is refused. Therefore, His Church has now, and will always have, that Unity (or oneness) of teaching, worship, and government which is so evidently a sign of truth, “the same yesterday, today, and the same forever.” It was for this reason that Christ established Peter as “the Rock”, or Foundation of His Church, against which the Gates of Hell could never prevail.
Consistent with Christ’s words, therefore, the only unity for which the Church and her faithful children can pray, is that which results from the conversion of those who are outside the One, True Fold of the Church. Thus, each of the days of the Chair of Unity Octave is dedicated to prayers for the conversion of some poor segment of mankind which is still “walking in darkness,” imploring that they may open their hearts to God’s grace, and return to the true Shepherd of their souls. This is the exercise of true charity. To imagine, as do the liberal ecumenists of our day, that we can achieve “unity” by pretending that those outside the Church do not stand in desperate need of conversion, is to deny the foundation of Christ’s True Church, and to renounce the very reason for the heroic apostolic labors and martyrdom of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.
The Church also prays for that unity which draws her faithful children closer together in a spirit of humility and charity, by their fervent living of the great “law of love” taught by Jesus Christ Our Lord. Finally, we are exhorted to pray and to work for that unity which results from our own humble obedience, respect, and loyalty to the Apostolic Authority of the Church, which will, in fulfillment of Christ’s promise, remain with us, even unto the consummation of the world.