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

November 2016

Universal Intention

Countries Receiving Refugees: That the countries which take in a great number of displaced persons and refugees may find support for their efforts which show solidarity. 

Every year we pray for refugees, but this month Pope Francis asks us to pray with him for the countries that receive refugees.

Where do most of the world’s refugees come from? It should be easy to guess because 54 percent of the millions of refugees in the world come from three countries embroiled in war and religious persecution—Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia. Other notable countries from which people are fleeing in the millions are Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic.  

Which countries host the most refugees? It’s no surprise that they are the more stable countries that border the areas of conflict—Turkey, Pakistan, and Lebanon. In 2011 there were 8,000 refugees in Lebanon. As a result of the Syrian conflict, the number swelled to 1.15 million in 2014. That’s a ratio of 232 refugees per 1,000 residents. Imagine if our own country was faced with that situation!  

Lebanon is not a wealthy country loaded with the resources necessary to provide for the basic needs of refugees. Its government is limited in what it can do. It and the other countries receiving refugees must rely on the help of outside organizations.

One such organization is Jesuit Refugee Service—Middle East and North Africa (www.jrsmena.org). Besides providing emergency assistance to Syrian refugees, they also meet needs that governments are unable to meet, such as psychosocial support and education. Our faith-filled prayers are powerful, especially when we join acts of charity to them. In this way our solidarity with those most in need will make the biggest difference.

Reflect
What does it mean for me to be in solidarity with refugees in other parts of the world?

Scripture 
Leviticus 19: 33-34 Have the same love for the alien as you have for yourself.


Evangelization Intention

Collaboration of Priests and Laity: That within parishes, priests and lay people may collaborate in service to the community without giving in to the temptation of discouragement.

We often talk about the good old days when things were better.  We even have the idea that in the good old days of the early Church there was only harmony and peace. Not so. A quick reading of the Acts of the Apostles and the Letters of St. Paul reveals many conflicts. Some were due to ethnic and racial differences (Acts 6: 1), different theological views (Acts 15: 1-2; Galatians 2: 11-14), or jealousy (1 Corinthians 1: 10-12).

It’s hard to believe that good people, working together for a good cause, trying to serve God, end up fighting. This can lead to discouragement which in turn leads to people walking away from God’s service.

Doesn’t that sound like something the devil wants? The Holy Spirit—the Paraclete, a word that means the Consoler or Encourager—never uses discouragement to motivate us. The Evil Spirit, enemy of God and of humanity, sows seeds of division and wants to lead us down a path of discouragement and despair.

Pope Francis said: “Let us always remember that the Adversary wants to keep us separated from God and therefore instills disappointment in our hearts. Every day the devil sows the seeds of pessimism and bitterness in our hearts. Let us open ourselves to the breath of the Holy Spirit, who never ceases to sow seeds of hope and confidence.”

We ask the Holy Spirit this month to bless our parish communities with all the graces necessary to overcome those things that lead to division. May priests and lay people recognize one another’s unique gifts and use them to build up the Church and not weaken it.  

Reflect
In my own parish or community, what are some of the things that lead to division and discouragement?

Scripture
Romans 16: 17-20 Be wise as to what is good and simple as to what is evil.


Links for November 2016

Universal Intention

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Get Involved:


Evangelization Intention

For Reflection: