An editorial from the August 25, 1962 issue of America:
It was with joy and gratitude that we learned the Presiding Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States had called for “frequent and regular prayer” to be offered in each Episcopal parish and mission church for the success of the Second Vatican Council, which begins October 11.
In his statement, the Right Rev. Arthur Lichtenberger suggested three prayers from the Book of Common Prayer that would be “particularly appropriate.” The first of them, entitled “For Meetings,” dates from 1799. The word “comfortable,” just beyond the middle of the prayer, meant “comforting” in those days:
Almighty and Everlasting God, who by the Holy Spirit didst preside in the Council of the blessed Apostles, and has promised, through Thy Son Jesus Christ, to be with Thy Church to the end of the world; we beseech Thee to be with the Council of Thy Church assembled in Thy Name and Presence. Save us from all error, ignorance, pride and prejudice; and of Thy great mercy vouchsafe, we beseech Thee, so to direct, sanctify, and govern us in our work, by the mighty power of the Holy Ghost, that the comfortable Gospel of Christ may be truly preached, truly received, and truly followed, in all places, to the breaking down the kingdom of sin, Satan, and death; till at length the whole of Thy dispersed sheep, being gathered into one fold, shall become partakers of everlasting life; through the merits and death of Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
The prayer entitled “For the Church,” also recommended by Bishop Lichtenberger, dates from 1667:
O gracious Father, we humbly beseech Thee for Thy holy Catholic Church; that Thou wouldst be pleased to fill it with all truth, in all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, establish it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it for the sake of Him who died and rose again, and ever liveth to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord.
The third prayer, “For the Unity of God’s People,” comes, in translation, from the ancient liturgy of St. James:
O God, the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, the Prince of Peace; give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder us from godly union and concord: that as there is but one Body and one Spirit, and one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Bishop Lichtenberger’s request to his people is obviously due, in part, to the example of charity that Pope John gave when he received the Bishop in private audience last November. It was, in fact, the first time a Pope had received in private audience the head of any U.S. Protestant denomination. Bishop Lichtenberger explicitly recalls that meeting in his statement. We recall that some Catholic bishops had prayers offered in their dioceses for the World Council of Churches meeting at New Delhi in 1961. The shepherds have given their people good Christian example.