Reflection from the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network for England and Wales and Scotland.
The people of God, and all people of good will, have many concerns that they want to bring to their prayer, as does Pope Francis; yet some of our prayer may be devoted to his particular intention selected for this month, which is: ‘Let us pray for the Church, that it may receive from the Holy Spirit the grace and strength to reform itself in the light of the Gospel’. Let us remember his intention, then, in our own prayers and at Holy Mass, especially on the first Friday of the month, which is always the worldwide Day of Prayer in the Church, each month, for the Pope’s intention.
We have been reviving the old tradition of the Apostleship of Prayer, now known as the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, in which three challenges based on the Pope’s intentions are offered to the people of God. Perhaps you could revive this in your own prayer or, even more effectively, in the prayer-life of your parish or worshipping community? Although in many parts of our hemisphere less happens in August, there can still be unity in prayer, never wasted or useless. In this spirit, recalling that this Pope’s intention is for the church anyway, here are three proposals for this month.
- Think and pray over what reform ‘in the light of the Gospel’ might mean, from your own experience of the Church. Be open to questioning some of your own assumptions; ask the Holy Spirit to reveal anything that might have gone unchallenged. Let the Trinity’s gaze fall on you as you do this.
- Think over and pray about what you mean when you talk about ‘The Church’. Is it still, for you, the name we give to the institution and the mechanism of the Church, based in Rome and in the cathedrals and diocesan offices around the world, and maybe in the sacristies of our church buildings? Or is it, as the Second Vatican Council discerned, the entire People of God, united in praise, worship and the infinite mystery of God, who continues to seek out each one of us? Look again at the Council’s documents and ponder how we are living out our vocations to be church to and in the world.
- The Climate Sunday initiative is calling on all local churches across Britain and Ireland to hold a climate-focused service on any Sunday before COP26 (November 2021). So far over 1,000 churches have joined in. Could your church add its voice this year? Discuss the proposal with everyone in your parish, chaplaincy or worshipping community; speak to your leaders and pastors to explore how this call could be taken up where you are. Visit www.climatesunday.org for more information and further suggestions.
The Church – All of us!
We are asked to pray directly to the Holy Spirit for the Church this month. There have been and will continue to be controversies, for example over the liturgy of the Church, which could and does divide the people of God. The outrage of clericalism shows itself every now and again too, and that is also divisive, because it by its very nature separates one part of the People of God from another; a kind of clerical class or caste can be placed, or can place itself, over and above the majority. As is suggested in our Three Proposals this month, our prayer must include careful reflection on how we participate in the life and worship of the Church, the body of which we are all members.
Our Daily Prayer Pathway combines the long-established Apostleship of Prayer tradition of the Morning Offering to the Heart of Christ with the Ignatian wisdom of the Daily Prayer of Awareness, or ‘Examen’, towards the end of the day. Between these two moments is a third, an Act of the Presence of God, made at some point in the middle of your day, perhaps during your coffee break or lunch break. None of these three steps in the daily Prayer Pathway needs to take a long time but they can make anyone’s day more reflective and abundant. Once again, we recall what Pope Francis told the 6,000 delegates from the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, in Rome, two years ago: ‘the heart of the church’s mission is prayer’. Here is our version of the Morning Offering prayer:
Loving God, here I am. I know you are always with me. I place my heart in the Heart of your Son Jesus, who gives himself to us in the Eucharist each day. May your Holy Spirit strengthen me to live the Gospel in everything I do and say. For my part I give you this day–all my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings–all I am and possess. With Mary, mother of the Church, I pray for the mission of the Church, for all Apostles of Prayer, and for the intentions of the Pope this month. Amen.
New Coordinator for Prayer Network
The six-year term of office of the current National Director for England, Scotland and Wales ends in September, when a new National Coordinator will take over. Details of the new person in charge will be made public shortly, when his appointment is formally made and confirmed by the Jesuit Provincial Superior and the Prayer Network's International Director in Rome.
You can continue to contact the office as normal although please note - we will be closed for August from the 1st to the 23rd.
Contact the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network