April 2017

Pope's Prayer Intention

Young People: That young people may respond generously to their vocations and seriously consider offering themselves to God in the priesthood or consecrated life.

Urgent Prayer Intention

Landslide Victims: Victims of the landslide in Colombia and peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Venezuela, and Paraguay.

This time of year many young people are thinking about graduation and preparing for their next step in life—high school, college, or work. Pope Francis asks us to keep them in mind as they consider their vocation.

Most people think of a “vocation” as something that priests, and religious sisters and brothers have. But every baptized person has a vocation, a divine call to love and serve God. At baptism we were changed. We became members of the Body of Christ, the Church. This membership is unlike being part of a human association. It is organic and divine. Grace flows through the parts of the Body of Christ and each part, in one way or another, has the responsibility to be a healthy member of the Body and to build up the Body.

It’s common, when considering the future, to think only in terms of our own personal preferences. We tend to leave God and his desires out of the picture. Pope Francis wants us to pray with him that young people will pray about their futures and be open to serving God in the priesthood and consecrated life.

This is so important to Pope Francis that the next Synod of Bishops, which will meet in 2018, is entitled “Young People, Faith, and Vocation Discernment.” In a letter to young people about the next Synod he wrote: “I wanted you to be the center of attention because you are in my heart. I invite you to hear God’s voice resounding in your heart through the breath of the Holy Spirit.”

Then, referring to Jesus’ response to his first disciples who, when asked where he was staying, said “Come and see” (John 1: 38), the Pope said: “Dear young people, have you noticed this look towards you? Have you heard this voice? I am sure that, despite the noise and confusion seemingly prevalent in the world, this call continues to resonate in the depths of your heart so as to open it to joy in its fullness. This will be possible to the extent that you will learn how to undertake a journey of discernment to discover God’s plan in your life.”

May our prayers touch many young people this month and lead them to grow in their faith and ask the question, “What does God want me to do?”

Scripture and Reflection

How is my parish or community helping young people discern their vocation? How am I encouraging and helping young people to discern?

John 21: 15-19 After he rose from the dead, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” When Peter responded “Yes,” Jesus told him to “tend” and to “feed” his sheep. Love, as St. Ignatius wrote in the Spiritual Exercises, “ought to manifest itself in deeds rather than in words.”

Ephesians 4: 7-16 Diverse gifts and graces are given to individuals to build up the Body of Christ.

For Reflection:

Working Document for the 2018 Synod of Bishops meeting to discuss “Young People, Faith, and Vocation Discernment”: http://saltandlighttv.org/blogfeed/getpost.php?id=73692&language=en

Pope Francis’ Letter to Young People when he presented the working document for the 2018 Synod of Bishops:  http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/letters/2017/documents/papa-francesco_20170113_lettera-giovani-doc-sinodo.html

Pope Francis’ Message for the 2017 World Day of Prayer for Vocations: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/vocations/documents/papa-francesco_20161127_54-messaggio-giornata-mondiale-vocazioni.html

March 2017

Pope's Prayer Intention

Support for Persecuted Christians: That persecuted Christians may be supported by the prayers and material help of the whole Church.

Urgent Prayer Intention

“I ask, please, for your prayers for me and my collaborators, who until Friday (3/10) will be on retreat.”

Every year Pope Francis asks us to join him in praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters. This year’s month of prayer for them falls during Lent, a good time to include fasting and alms-giving for them.

In his April 12, 2016 homily he said that Christians face two kinds of persecution. One is bloody. It began right after the birth of Jesus when King Herod killed babies as he sought to eliminate Christ. “From that time until today there have been martyrs in the Church—men and women persecuted simply for confessing and for saying that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Persecution “is the daily bread of the Church: after all, Jesus said so.”

The history of this “clear, explicit type of persecution” can be seen in Rome where “we go to the Colosseum and think of the martyrs killed there by lions.” And it is seen in countries like Pakistan where, last Easter, Christians were “martyred just for celebrating the Risen Christ.” He added that “the Church is the community of believers, the community of confessors, of those who profess that Jesus is Christ. Indeed, the Church is the community of martyrs.”

What is the second kind of persecution? It is “not often spoken about.” It is “disguised as culture, disguised as modernity, disguised as progress: it is a kind of—I would say somewhat ironically — polite persecution.” It happens “when someone is persecuted not for confessing Christ’s name, but for wanting to demonstrate the values of the Son of God.”

This persecution is being institutionalized in the laws of nations that have historically been Christian. In this way “we see every day that the powerful make laws that force people to take this path, and a nation that does not follow this modern collection of laws, or at least that does not want to have them in its legislation, is accused, is politely persecuted.” This is a “persecution that takes away man’s freedom” and the right to “conscientious objection.” “This is the persecution of the world when the powerful want to impose attitudes, laws against the dignity of the children of God, persecute them and oppose God the Creator.”

In both ways, the Church today is walking the Way of the Cross.

Scripture and Reflection

How does prayer for my enemies help me?

John 15: 18-27 Jesus said, “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.”

For Reflection:

Pope Francis’ Morning Meditation of April 16, 2016: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/cotidie/2016/documents/papa-francesco-cotidie_20160412_two-kinds-of-persecution.html

Pope Francis’ Angelus Message of December 26, 2016: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/angelus/2016/documents/papa-francesco_angelus_20161226.html

Pope Francis’ Morning Meditation of January 30, 2017: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/cotidie/2017/documents/papa-francesco-cotidie_20170130_when-martyrs-dont-make-the-news.html

Aid to the Church in Need: www.churchinneed.org