by Fr David Stewart SJ
To begin the new year of 2019, Pope Francis has chosen this intention and now offers it to us to pray with him: ‘that young people, especially in Latin America, follow the example of Mary and respond to the call of the Lord to communicate the joy of the Gospel to the world’.
Praying this intention with the Pope and with tens of thousands of people of good will worldwide reminds us of something that we probably said, or heard, quite often during the weeks of Advent, just last month, about the ‘real meaning of Christmas’. Now we’ve got to live that true meaning as we start a new calendar year and a great place to start is to ponder once more just what that true meaning is. It’s surely this: that the Gospel is indeed joyful, and that those who hear and accept it, as Mary did, experience a deep and powerful call to communicate that joy to a world that does not show much joy in our days.
The Pope’s reference, in his intention, to his own native continent and to young people draws our attention to the forthcoming International World Youth Day in Panama, 2019, in the second half of this month. Each of these huge international gatherings, always full of the joy of the Gospel, draws many thousands of young adults from many countries and the Holy Father always joins them. The Jesuits have, since 2005 in Köln, organised the parallel MAG+S Programme, a world gathering of young adults rooted in Ignatian spirituality, in the days leading up to the World Youth Day. These Ignatian young adults, moved by a desire to seek, find and share the joy of the gospel in the world, make the pilgrimage to MAG+S and WYD, just as St Ignatius of Loyola did, identifying himself as a pilgrim incessantly searching for God. This pilgrimage, which has Christ as its guide, journeys to humanity as the recipient of love, and to the world as a place of ministry, a people and a place worthy of being loved.
The example of Mary, of which the Pope reminds us this month, will keep alive in our hearts the events of the Annunciation and the Nativity of the Lord, which we just celebrated a short time ago. We will be more able to live the real meaning of these events, following her example and entrusting ourselves to her maternal care. Mary received the Good News with joy and began, first with her Visitation to her cousin Elizabeth, to communicate it with joy. Our own prayer, uniting us with the Holy Father, unites us also with the whole Church, the entire People of God; we are never called to the joy of the Gospel alone! As Chilean Jesuit Juan Diego Galaz writes, in our Living Prayer 2019 booklet, ‘the joy that comes from God shows itself to the world in the way of love and justice’. And this month, not least through Click To Pray, we are able to pray with all those thousands of young adult pilgrims whom the Holy Father gathers around himself at World Youth Day, in Panama.
Two suggested daily offering prayers, from our Living Prayer 2019 booklet:
Heavenly Father, I thank you for the gift of life. May I live this day in gratitude for that gift and treat others with the dignity they deserve. I offer you this day for the intention of Pope Francis for this month. Hail, Mary …
Gracious Father, I contemplate your presence among us. Help me to do all things for the greater good of all people. I offer you my thoughts, words, deeds and all that I am, for the intention of Pope Francis this month.
Log on to our website www.click-to-pray.org and download the latest version of the app. (on App Store, iTunes and Google Play) to pray with the Pope, and hundreds of thousands of Christians around the world. This app connects us with all who pray with the Pope in a quick, easy and creative way.
Our Living Prayer 2019 booklets are now in-stock and available to order (U.K. nations only) for £1.75 + £1.20 P&P from our London office. A special twin-pack, including the 2019 Sacred Heart wall calendar (A4), usually £2.20, and a selection of prayer-cards, is available for only £3 plus £1.50 P&P while stocks last – these are almost sold out. Order with your delivery details from firstname.lastname@example.org or by text to 074 3259 1117.
Fr David Stewart SJ is the National Director of the Pope's Prayer Network.