I asked a nice young theology major of my acquaintance to fill me in. He says:
The octave was established in the early 20th century, before the Asteroid, to pray for the conversion of all Christians to the One True Church of Christ. Although it has been embraced by the "ecumencial movement" of NewChurch, it originally had a profound theological and liturgical significance. The Octave begins on the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter of Rome (now abolished...surprise) emphasizing the rock of unity upon which Church is founded. And ends on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. But whereas under the current dispensation the necessity for all people to convert is emphasized, in the unreformed Church in its original intention, the choice of the Conversion of St. Paul is a clarion call for those who are unhappily separated from Holy Mother Church to return to the one true - and only - ark of salvation.
In celebration of this noble and compassionate intention, I offer a nice Caravaggio to cheer y'all up.
Aaand, in the spirit of ecumenism, I offer some prayers for the entire week.
First Day: For the return of the ‘other sheep’ to the One Fold of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Second Day: For the return of the Eastern Orthodox Christians to communion with the Apostolic See.
Third Day: For the return of the Anglicans to the authority of the Vicar of Christ.
Fourth Day: For the return of all Protestants throughout the world to the unity of the Catholic Church.
Fifth Day: That Christians in America [or: throughout the world] may be one, in union with the Chair of Saint Peter.
Sixth Day: That lapsed Catholics will return to the Sacraments of the Church.
Seventh Day: That the Jewish people will be converted to the Catholic Faith.
Eighth Day: That missionary zeal will conquer the world for Christ.
(We're on day three. Anglican day.)
Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is that all men should be saved and that none should perish, look upon the souls that are deceived by the guile of Satan, in order that the hearts of them that have gone astray may put aside all the perverseness of heresy, and, being truly repentant, may return to the unity of thy truth. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
O Mary, Mother of mercy and Refuge of sinners, we beseech thee, be pleased to look with pitiful eyes upon poor heretics and schismatics. Thou who art the Seat of Wisdom, enlighten the minds that are miserably enfolded in the darkness of ignorance and sin, that they may clearly know that the Holy Catholic Church is the one true Church of Jesus Christ, outside of which neither holiness nor salvation can be found.