REFLECTIONS ON THE POPE'S MONTHLY INTENTIONS
Editor's Note: Apostleship of Prayer receives monthly prayer intentions from the pope and urges Christians throughout the world to unite in prayer for those intentions. The reflections below seek to illuminate the Holy Father's concerns.
In his Message for Lent this year, Pope Francis wrote: “Usually, when we are healthy and comfortable, we forget about others: we are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings and the injustices they endure. Our heart grows cold. As long as I am relatively healthy and comfortable, I don’t think about those less well off. Today, this selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions.”
Let’s be honest: it’s difficult to be around people who are suffering. We’re tempted to avoid them because they make us uncomfortable. We don’t know what to say, and we often can’t do anything to take their suffering away. As Pope Francis said, “their need reminds me of the uncertainty of my own life and my dependence on God and my neighbors.”
We are called to be like the woman whom we honor during this month—Mary. She met her Son on the way to Calvary and stood under his cross during his last agonizing hours. She was not indifferent to his suffering, nor is she indifferent to any human suffering.
Like her, we pray that we may reject “the culture of indifference” and open our eyes and hearts to the poor, the sick, and the suffering of our world. Jesus continually identified with the poor and suffering. This is what prayer does. Prayer helps us to have a heart like the hearts of Mary and Jesus so that we will never be indifferent to the sufferings of the poor and sick.
How has God used my own experience of suffering to help me be more aware of and compassionate toward those who suffer?
1 Corinthians 12: 12-26 God has so constructed the body that the parts may have concern for one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it.
In one of his weekly audiences during the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict talked about the danger of “practical atheism.” People experience that kind of atheism when “the truths of faith or religious rites are not denied but are merely deemed irrelevant to daily life, detached from life, pointless. So it is that people often believe in God in a superficial manner, and live as though God did not exist.”
Practical atheism fuels secularization. Wealth and pleasure are pursued instead of God. In Pope Francis’ words, the pursuit of selfish ends has led to a “culture of waste” whose “victims are precisely the weakest and most fragile human beings—the unborn, the poorest, the sick and elderly, the seriously handicapped—who are in danger of being ‘thrown away,’ expelled from a system that must be efficient at all costs.”
Pope Francis elaborated: “In fact, this false model of man and society implements a practical atheism by rejecting the Word of God, which says: ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’ (Genesis 1:26).”
The way to freedom from practical atheism and its “culture of waste is through accepting the deep wisdom of Gods’ Word.” The Pope continued, “If we allow this Word to call into question our ways of thinking and acting, our standards, our priorities and our choices, then things can change.”
The Blessed Virgin Mary is the one who was so fully open to God’s Word that he, the Son of God, took flesh in her womb. Now we pray that we may be open to this Word in such a way that he may be born in anew in us and speak of faith and love through us to secularized souls.Reflection
In what ways have I experienced opposition or difficulties in speaking about or living my faith? In what ways do I find myself slipping into “practical atheism”?
2 Timothy 4: 1-5 Proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient.
Mary, you never forget your children on earth. Just as you never left the side of your Son on the Cross, so you never leave the side of your suffering children. We thank you for that presence. In the wake of so much suffering in the world, we want to thank you for continuing to bring us Jesus, who alone has the power to heal open wounds and to restore peace to broken hearts. Amen.
--Adapted from Pope Francis’ Prayer at Madhu Shrine in Sri Lanka
To register as a member of the Apostleship of Prayer, to subscribe to leaflets, or to order additional leaflets for distribution to others, please contact us. Thank you for your generous support of our ministry.
APOSTLESHIP OF PRAYER
1501 S. Layton Blvd
Milwaukee, WI 53215-1924
Copyright 2015: Apostleship of Prayer