"Pray for me" -Pope Francis

"Pray for me." (Associated Press photo)

Pope Francis is all about prayer. I will never forget the prayer-filled, electrifying silence in St. Peter's Square on the night of his election, when he bowed his head and asked us all to pray for him. On his one-year anniversary a couple of weeks ago, he echoed that moment: "Pray for me."

Each month Pope Francis entrusts to the Apostleship of Prayer two prayer intentions close to his heart. Since the 1800s, this is what popes do! Started in 1844 in France, the Apostleship of Prayer is a grass-roots international prayer group. You can read all about our history here, but in a nutshell, the AoP started by promoting the Morning Offering. That simple prayer--a conscious offering of the day's thoughts, words, and deeds for the good of others--spread like wildfire throughout the world. Every pope since then has asked to be a part of the prayer movement by submitting prayer requests to us.

We are the "Pope's Prayer Group."

Earlier this year Pope Francis submitted his prayer intentions for 2015 to the AoP. Our international headquarters in Rome sent them to us in the original Italian. I was thrilled to be a part of the team in our USA office who translated them into English, checked in with the national offices of France and Rome to compare translations, and then submitted them back to Rome for approval. Once approved each year, the international AoP distributes our translation to AoP offices in every English-speaking country in the world.

I get to adapt the Pope's prayers into simple language children will absorb. I also write reflections for children and design related activities for children to share with their families. I post these reflections and activities on our website and on this blog, and we also bind a whole year's worth into workbooks available on our online catalog.

I keep meeting people who have never heard about any of this exciting stuff, so I thought I'd share it with you all today. And just so you don't have to click on the "Universal Intention" tab above, I'm attaching this month's universal intention reflection and activity (on "Ecology and Justice") right here. Pope Francis' evangelization intention for this month, for "Hope for the Sick," is worth the click if you have the time. Enjoy!

Ecology and Justice

Pray that leaders in every country help people protect creation and share the gifts of nature fairly.

On Earth Day in 2013, Pope Francis asked the world to take care of nature:

Take good care of creation. St. Francis wanted that.
People occasionally forgive, but nature never does.

What does Pope Francis mean when he says that nature never forgives? Think of it this way. If you cut down a perfectly healthy apple tree, what happens? The tree falls to the ground, all the apples rot, and the tree dies. The tree can't forgive us, because the damage is done and cannot be undone. If you said “I’m sorry. Please forgive me!” to the apple tree, the tree would still be on the ground, surrounded by rotten apples.

It’s good to say we're sorry when we make bad choices or harm someone. But Pope Francis reminds us that the harm we have done remains, especially when we harm nature. So Pope Francis asks us this month to think about God’s creation and to pray for ecology and justice. Ecology refers to the way humans live with nature, and justice means sharing what we have fairly.

Let’s pray together: God, creator of the universe, help leaders
in every country learn about the best ways to care for creation.
May they make good laws that help people—especially poor people—share
the gifts of nature for many generations.

Think About it!

·      What does your family like to do out in nature?
·      If we fill the earth with trash, can’t we just move to another planet?
·      Why does the Pope say St. Francis wants us to take care of creation?

Ecology Activity:
The St. Francis Pledge

Do you and your family like to take care of God’s creation?
What are some things you do to keep the earth healthy?

If your family would like some ideas, ask an adult to visit the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change website for the Catholic Climate Covenant: http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/

On the website, you can take the St. Francis Pledge:

(Don’t you love how the first step of the pledge is “Pray”?)


Note to Parents: The Catholic Coalition on Climate Change is a partner of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The Coalition website includes helpful tips on reducing your carbon footprint as well as links to Catholic documents about the environment and other life issues.