May 2017

Pope's Prayer Intention

Christians in Africa: That Christians in Africa, in imitation of the Merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace.

Urgent Prayer Intention

Coming soon!

On November 30, 2015 security was tight in PK5, a small district in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. In the previous three months, clashes between Christians and Muslims resulted in over 100 deaths. Undeterred, Pope Francis ventured into the neighborhood as a witness to reconciliation.

He said: “We are well aware that the recent events and acts of violence which have shaken your country were not grounded in properly religious motives. Those who claim to believe in God must also be men and women of peace. Christians, Muslims and members of the traditional religions have lived together in peace for many years. They ought, therefore, to remain united in working for an end to every act which, from whatever side, disfigures the Face of God. Together, we must say no to hatred, no to revenge and no to violence, particularly that violence which is perpetrated in the name of a religion or of God himself.”

Africa is a wounded continent. It is bleeding from tribal, racial, and religious conflicts. As the European colonial powers departed in the 20th Century, they left behind a legacy of corruption and exploitation of resources that continues. For healing and change to occur, mercy is required.

Visiting a refugee camp, Pope Francis said: “We must work and pray and do everything possible for peace. But without love, without friendship, without tolerance, without forgiveness, peace is not possible.”

Pope Francis challenged government officials: “Everything must be done to protect the status and dignity of the human person. Those who have the means to enjoy a decent life, rather than being concerned with privileges, must seek to help those poorer than themselves. In effect, our human dignity is expressed by our working for the dignity of our fellow man.”

Working to safeguard human dignity means “avoiding the temptation of fear of others, of the unfamiliar, of what is not part of our ethnic group, our political views or our religious confession. Unity, on the contrary, calls for creating and promoting a synthesis of the richness which each person has to offer. Unity in diversity is a constant challenge, one which demands creativity, generosity, self-sacrifice and respect for others.”

Praying for African Christians, we commit ourselves to imitating the Merciful Jesus and giving prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace in our own lives. Reflection and

Discussion

Why is justice not enough to bring about peace? What role does the purification and healing of memories play in the reconciliation that can lead to peace?

Scripture

Luke 24: 33-38 On the cross Jesus did not retaliate, asking the Father to take vengeance and to punish those who crucified him. He asks the Father to forgive them.

2 Peter 2: 21-25 Jesus, the only innocent and sinless one, suffered and died on the cross to take away the sins of the world and to bring healing.

For Reflection:

Pope Francis’ Address upon arriving in Kenya, November 2015: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2015/november/documents/papa-francesco_20151125_kenya-autorita.html

Pope Francis’ Address to Government Officials in the Central African Republic: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2015/november/documents/papa-francesco_20151129_repubblica-centrafricana-autorita.html

Pope Francis’ Address to Young People at the beginning of a Reconciliation Service in the Central African Republic: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2015/november/documents/papa-francesco_20151129_repubblica-centrafricana-veglia-preghiera.html

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