January 2017

Pope's Prayer Intention

Christian Unity: That all Christians may be faithful to the Lord’s teaching by striving with prayer and fraternal charity to restore ecclesial communion and by collaborating to meet the challenges facing humanity.

Urgent Prayer Intention

Homeless people affected by the cold: In these days of such great cold, I invite you to think of all the people living on the streets, affected by the cold and often indifference. We pray for them and ask the Lord to warm the hearts of others to help them.

Jesus taught that division leads to weakness. He said: “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste” (Lk 11: 17). Is that true, even for the Church, through which the Kingdom of God is breaking into the world? Yes. Unfortunately the divisions among Christians make us weak. We cannot confront the evils in our world because our energy is sapped by the divisions among us.

Who is behind division? Pope Francis’ answer is clear: “The devil plants evil where there is good, trying to divide people, families and nations.” Weakened by division, the People of God become fair game for devilish assaults. Satan wants to destroy the Church and humanity. We can’t ignore our divisions.

Pope Francis said: “Either you are with me, says the Lord, or you are against me. On this point, there are no nuances. There is a battle and a battle where salvation is at play, eternal salvation. We must always be on guard, on guard against deceit, against the seduction of evil.”
By means of prayer and works of charity, we can stay close to the one who won the victory over evil and division. Pope Francis exhorts us: “Let us ask the Lord for the grace to take these things seriously. He came to fight for our salvation. He won against the devil! Please, let us not do business with the devil!”

We meet Jesus in both prayer and in whatever we do for the least of our brothers and sisters (see Mt 25: 31-45). One concrete way that we Christians can come together, even though we are divided by doctrines and the way we worship, is by working together to protect human life.
In his encyclical The Gospel of Life Pope St. John Paul II wrote: “Service of the Gospel of life increasingly appears as a valuable and fruitful area for positive cooperation with our brothers and sisters of other Churches and ecclesial communities.” And in his encyclical about ecumenism, Ut Unum Sint, he wrote: “With increasing frequency Christians are working together to defend human dignity…Before the world, united action in society on the part of Christians has the clear value of a joint witness to the name of the Lord.”

We join Pope Francis this month in praying for Christian unity. We ask that this prayer may lead us to work with other Christians to meet the challenges facing humanity.

Reflection and Discussion

How are discouragement and gossip a matter of “doing business with the devil”?

How do they contribute to divisions?

Scripture

Luke 11: 14-23 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
John 13: 34-35 “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

For Reflection:

Pope Francis’ Homily and Joint Statement on the occasion of his trip to Sweden: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/homilies/2016/documents/papa-francesco_20161031_omelia-svezia-lund.html

Resources for the Celebration of the 2017 Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/weeks-prayer-doc/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20160531_week-prayer-2017_en.html

Pope Francis’ Message for the 2017 World Day of Peace: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/peace/documents/papa-francesco_20161208_messaggio-l-giornata-mondiale-pace-2017.html

December 2016

Universal Intention

End to Child Soldiers: That the scandal of child soldiers may be eliminated the world over.

Since World War II international law has tried to protect children from military exploitation by declaring that having child soldiers constitutes a war crime. One would think that with such laws the world would become more civilized. But the scandalous reality is far different. There are more child soldiers today than at any other time in history.

One estimate puts the figure at 300,000 children in at least twenty countries, mostly in Africa. In the last fifteen years 10,000 children were kidnapped by the “Lord’s Resistance Army” in northern Uganda and forced to fight. Compared to adults, children are easier to manipulate, they don’t eat much, and do not have a highly developed sense of danger, thus making it easy to send them into the line of fire. Children are prized because they are “pure” and are sometimes believed to have magic powers that protect them.

Last August, Monsignor Simon Kassas, representing the Vatican at the United Nations, told the Security Council: “Never in recent memory have so many children been subjected to such violent brutality: children used as soldiers, suicide bombers, sex slaves, and disposable intelligence-gatherers in the most dangerous military operations. These crimes must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”

This month we remember in a special way how the Son of God came to earth as a child. May the Prince of Peace inspire all people of good will to pray and work for the elimination of the scandal of child soldiers.

Reflect
In what ways is the phenomenon of child soldiers a pro-life issue?

Scripture 

Mark 10: 13-16 Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.”

Evangelization Intention

Europe: That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness, and truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.

Last spring, when Pope Francis received the Charlemagne Prize, he provocatively asked the European dignitaries who bestowed the honor: “What has happened to you, the Europe of humanism, the champion of human rights, democracy and freedom?” He said “that there is a growing impression that Europe is weary, aging, no longer fertile and vital, that the great ideals that inspired Europe seem to have lost their appeal.”

What ideals? Truth, beauty, and goodness. The dignity and value of every human life and a society that strives for the common good of all. In an address to the European Parliament, Pope Francis said these ideals are rooted in “openness to the transcendent—to God—which has always distinguished the peoples of Europe.”
He warned: “A Europe which is no longer open to the transcendent dimension of life is a Europe which risks slowly losing its soul and that ‘humanistic spirit’ which it still loves and defends.”

He concluded his speech with a challenge: “The time has come for us to revive and encourage a Europe of leadership, a repository of science, art, music, human values and faith as well. A Europe which contemplates the heavens and pursues lofty ideals. A Europe which cares for, defends, and protects man, every man and woman.”

As Christianity was the source of Europe’s “lofty ideals” so it has an essential role to play in their revival. We join Pope Francis in praying that the people of Europe will be open to the joy and hope of the Gospel.

Reflect
What elements of Jesus’ teaching that we find in the Gospels are the foundation of the humanistic spirit and lofty ideals that our world needs?

Scripture
Acts 17: 22-31 Paul said, “God is not far from any one of us.”

Links for November 2016

Universal Intention

Get the Facts and Get Involved:

Evangelization Intention

For Reflection: