David Stewart SJ, Director in the UK of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, introduces the Holy Father’s plans for the renewed and relaunched Apostleship of Prayer and the UK branch’s new location here in the diocese.
The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network has grown in many innovative ways over the past two years. The ministry itself continues the work of the Apostleship of Prayer, founded in 1844; but there’s now a new name, a new energy and new methods of presenting the message. This does not mean that the previous work has been replaced; it has been developed, not least in the light of so much change and innovation in the world around us.
And now, the Network’s UK Office is here in the Diocese of Westminster. The base is at the Jesuit residence at Copleston House, S Hampstead. The Network is a service of the Holy See, entrusted to the Jesuits around the world.
The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) called on the whole people of God, the Church, to ‘read the signs of the times’ carefully. One more recent fruit of that has been the New Evangelisation, so close to the heart of Pope St John Paul. The Gospel hasn’t changed; how could it? But our ways of proposing it to the world have. So too has our work in this, the Pope’s own global prayer network.
An important development from the beginning of 2017 has been that the monthly Intentions of the Holy Father that are announced in advance have decreased from two to one. Each month, he continues to share with the world, through us, his prayer network, the concerns that are in his own heart. On January 8th 2017, Pope Francis at his audience said:‘I would also like to invite you all to join the World Network of the Pope’s Prayer Intentions, which even through social networks, spreads the prayer intentions that I propose every month to the whole Church. In this way, the apostolate of prayer continues to carry on and increases communion.’
Even here there’s a further innovation. Each month there’s also a second urgent action, concern or intention, which the Pope announces at the first Sunday Angelus of each month in St Peter’s Square, Rome. We won’t know what this is until just before he announces it, then we’ll make it known as widely as possible. Pope Francis has said that he wants to give us this extra, topical prayer-concern to help to ‘drag us out of the culture of indifference’ which he sees all around the world. That’s also his way of reminding us that, when we pray from the heart, our hearts will change and we can no longer be indifferent to so much pain and suffering in our world; our hearts are touched, and are moved to do something about it.
Each of us is invited to become an apostle of prayer by joining our hearts to these intentions, spread by the Pope’s Network. Pray, as apostles of prayer have done for so many years, from your heart to the Heart of Christ, which is a heart of compassion for all of creation. We can train our hearts to become more like his heart, and so grow as those missionary disciples that Pope Francis has urged us to become.
We’ve developed the new and popular Daily Prayer Pathway which gives us a new way to pray the traditional Morning Offering, together with the Pope’s Intentions, then ending the day with a prayerful review, just like St Ignatius of Loyola always recommended. We’re renewing our ways of sharing our prayer, online. And we’ll soon launch a fresh way of devoting ourselves to the Heart of Christ as we launch our Way of the Heart invitation to prayer.
There’s nothing to join, no membership to pay: just look for the monthly prayer intentions each month, make a morning offering each new day to the Heart of Jesus, of your day, united to the Pope’s intention and to the intentions of apostles of prayer all around the world.
The morning prayer or daily offering is suggested each day on our website www.popesglobalprayer.net; a three-time prayer for the day can be found on www.clicktopray.org , which offers a free downloadable App for your smartphone or tablet and is a website of the Worldwide Prayer Network. Use your smartphone to pray every day and make every day a prayer!
Another popular online innovation, the Pope’s video for each month, appears on the first Friday of every month on all our sites, including www.jesuits.org.uk and on www.facebook.com/praywithpope. There, too, you’ll find his ‘Urgent Action’ intention as soon as we receive it from Rome.
Together, as St Ignatius loved to say, let us set the world on fire with God’s love, justice and mercy!