Praying with the Pope in March

POST BY DStewart

Credit: Benji Aird via Unsplash

In March, we want to pray with Pope Francis for families – “that families in need may receive the necessary support and that children may grow up in healthy and peaceful environments". It’s a prayer we want to make at this time of Lent and in this Year of Mercy. As Pope Francis said, last year, "All families need God: all, all! They need his help, his strength, his blessing, his mercy, his forgiveness". This month’s universal intention of the Holy Father brings that need to our attention, commends it to our prayer.

The Lenten season of this Holy Year gives us a great opportunity to ponder the meaning of mercy in our own lives and how we practise mercy towards others; how to respond to the needs that the Pope has named. We need them both -- the prayer and the practice. What more might I do to support families that are in need but also family life more generally? What is there in my own family that calls forth from me some act of mercy ?  Do I ever take that to God in prayer? What about my immediate circle, my parish or community, or the local area where I live? There are many threats to family life in our contemporary world. Many families need support, often because they are in need, sometimes because the family isn’t valued as it should be. The children suffer most. And they are the future.

If I ask God in prayer to see more clearly what part I could play in creating those healthy and peaceful environments for children, what does God show me? Where? In my own town or in my parish? Or far away, in a place where families are being torn apart by other factors; the refugee families of Syria, the families broken up or held in despair, behind a steel fence at a hostile European border? We have all seen in the media those heart-breaking stories and, more recently, the disturbing realities of so many unaccompanied children, refugees, vulnerable, frightened, in a strange land, on a strange continent. They’re not scroungers looking for an easy life. They are hoping for a better life which just means freedom from violence and fear; how they must all long to be back with their families, living in peace!

St. Ignatius might encourage us to ask: what does the Trinity see when the Three Divine Persons gaze down on the refugee families of Europe today? What moves at the heart of the Trinity might move in our own hearts too, if we’re magnanimous enough. Let's pray for that intention with Francis and pray that we may do what we can for families in difficulty, for peace and health for the children; and pray for the grace and strength to do what we can, indeed, what we must.

Prayer Moment: Ask the Spirit of God to lead you to a place of interior stillness and calm, where God is looking at you, smiling. Spend a few moments, perhaps soon after waking up, to make the Morning Offering of the Pope’s Global Prayer Network, uniting your prayer to the Pope’s and that of Christians all round the world. Before logging on to your email or social media messages, make a point of going to the new video channel or the new Click-to-Pray App to hear Pope Francis himself presenting his concerns for our prayers this month. These are: for families in need, together with his Evangelisation Intention, for persecuted Christians.

• Make an offering of your day; ask God’s help to commit yourself to doing so every morning.
• Ponder the Pope’s Intention for families this month, ask the Spirit to show you where that mercy is most needed, and how you can be a channel of that mercy.
• Join with the Holy Father in prayer for persecuted Christians, recognising what the Pope says about how our incessant prayer sustains them.
• Ask that the grace needed for families, persecuted Christians and all followers of Christ, including yourself, be freely given and received, with no thought for one’s own reward.

A new way of praying: March 2016 sees the launch our brand-new online initiative, It contains a downloadable App, a prayer wall, a Morning Offering prayer, different each day, plus many more useful features.
The Apostleship of Prayer is the Pope’s official Worldwide Prayer Network. Every month it makes known the concerns of the Holy Father for the world and for the evangelising mission that we all share by virtue of our baptism. It’s what we call a spiritual pathway, a way of the heart, giving us the opportunity of praying with the Pope as we offer ourselves every day as servants of Christ’s mission. This has happened for decades. And so it continues as our global network introduces these new ways of sharing those concerns. This is our biggest yet. Do join us, by logging on, downloading the App, making the prayers, adding your own and changing the world!