Office for Christian Unity,
Thursday, March 16, 2023


During this year’s Lenten season of prayer for unity, we will hear different writings from Abbé Paul Couturier. Paul Couturier was born in 1881 in Lyon (France), and was ordained a priest in 1906. He taught Natural Sciences, Physics, and Chemistry for many years before discovering his ecumenical vocation, thanks to several encounters. In 1936, he organized the first interdenominational spiritual meeting (with Catholics and Protestants) in Erlenbach, Switzerland, which led to the birth of the “Groupe des Dombes” in 1937. Abbé Paul Couturier was the pioneer of spiritual ecumenism at the foundation of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, praying for unity “according to Christ’s will, and according to his means”. He died in Lyon on March 24, 1953.

We must go from love to truth

It is futile to think of achieving first unity of minds in truth, and subsequently union of hearts in charity.

Truth is only grasped by a soul prepared to receive it, which has already surrendered itself to at least the inclination towards desire and love, however obscure it may be. Charity is the herald of truth. The Word came with the charity and humility of the incarnation in the ‘form of a slave’, so that he could win the hearts of all. The only way he could obtain the attention of their spirit was through their liberation. […]
Regarding charity, we must protest strongly that it is not a process, a ‘skill”. No! It is a psychological necessity. We have to go from love to truth. To try to do the opposite is to try to plant a tree in reverse. Both personally and collectively, we harvest truth from the tree of charity –  truth is the flower or fruit of charity. The love of God gives personal truth, love of neighbor through God gives collective truth.

Text by Paul Couturier from Pierre Michalon, L’abbé Paul Couturier, apôtre de l’unité des chrétiens
[Abbé Paul Couturier, apostle of Christian unity]
 Nouvelle Cité, coll. « Prier 15 jours », 2003, pp. 66-67.


To be used as appropriate

(Intercessory Chorus)

1/ The Alliance Biblique Française (French Bible Society) has organised ‘Bible Month’ over the past few years, aimed at generating interest in and study of the Bible. This year’s focus is on solidarity and community.
Lord, we ask you that all of the projects that emerge within the framework of this event may be a source of greater fraternity around the Word of God.

(Intercessory Chorus)

2/. France’s religious leaders met with President Emmanuel Macron on March 9 for a dinner devoted to the debate around end-of-life. The evening played out in the presence of medical experts and other key participants in this field, at a time when the Citizens’ Convention devoted to this subject is due to deliver its conclusions in a month.
They reiterated that they are not the only ones to oppose legislation on active assistance in dying.
Lord, we pray for all those who will make decisions about the end of life, and we ask that your Spirit will guide their conscience.

(Intercessory Chorus)

3/   In the Chemin Neuf Community and Communion, the interconfessional couples and those of other confessions than Roman Catholic are a sign of ecumenism in daily life.
Lord, thank you for all that they bring to Christian unity. We ask you to give them the joy and strength to continue to be witnesses of the unity of your Body.