by Fr David Stewart SJ
At the end of June, the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network gathered in Rome to celebrate 175 years since its founding. From those early days in France, this pontifical service has grown to become the Church’s largest prayer group, operating in at least 97 countries. Known to millions for many decades as the Apostleship of Prayer, this work underwent a major renovation in the last decade, transforming itself into the Prayer Network together with its youth branch, the Eucharistic Youth Movement.
More recently, it has grown in other ways too, such as its massive expansion into the digital world, notably with the Click-to-Pray online platform and downloadable App. Pope Francis at the 20th January Sunday Angelus in St Peter’s Square presented Click-to-Pray and launched his own profile! You can see that in the News tab on our international website, www.popesprayer.va. While online, you can also take a look at our Pope Video initiative, in which the Holy Father personally presents each month’s Intention and appeals to us to pray with him.
In July we are invited to pray with the Pope for ‘The integrity of justice: that those who administer justice may work with integrity, and that the injustice present in the world may not have the last word’. There are several ways of understanding justice, for example legal or criminal justice, social justice and environmental justice. With this month’s intention, the Holy Father wishes to highlight that we must always be aware of the times and places where injustice in the world might look like it is having the last word.
In our Living Prayer booklet you’ll find another reflection on each month’s Intention. We’re reminded of how, in a General Audience in 2016, Pope Francis suggested that we should root justice in ‘the heart of a Father who goes beyond our little concept of justice to open us to the limitless horizons of his mercy’. That boundless mercy is where we derive the genuine integrity for which we pray as we join the Pope in this month’s Intention. We’re praying, in the words of this Intention, that mercy, not injustice, will have the last word; with that goes our commitment to do what we need to do, for this to happen.
Another excellent reflection on this month’s Intention appears on the online US & Canada section of our Network (www.popesprayer.va), where the writer notes: ‘There is an integrity that is demanded in each person, and especially in authorities who are entrusted with various powers intended to be used for the common good. It is not enough to use high-sounding words. We must steadily pray that God give his wisdom to those in authority, and we must ourselves act prudently to restrain those who undermine the rule of law and claim for themselves power without moral restraint’. The writer concludes: ‘we must ourselves act prudently to restrain those who undermine the rule of law and claim for themselves power without moral restraint’. There is our call to action, as we offer ourselves for Christ’s mission each day!
THREE CHALLENGES for the MONTH:
1: Think of, or chat with others about good practices in the administration of justice, pondering these as a way to underline the importance of doing justice with integrity and truth; look for opportunities to tell others about them.
2: Reflect, on your own or in your family, community or friendship circles, and do an examination of conscience on how we can easily tolerate injustice, in our interpersonal relations and our politics, particularly when minorities or those already marginalised might be injured.
3: Promote in your parish or community a time of reflection and prayer for those who administer justice and reflect on unjust situations, especially when injustice seems to have the last word, and on ways to overcome them.
As St Ignatius of Loyola suggested, in his Spiritual Exercises, that we can use our imaginations to be present to the Blessed Trinity gazing on the earth and on all of human history. The heart of the Trinity is pained by how far humanity has strayed from the Trinity’s highest hopes for us, not least in how we have treated each other but also our common home, this planet. The Trinity sees much love on the earth but also much injustice, socially and environmentally. Imagine then the surge of divine love that becomes the Incarnation, as the very heart of God becomes a human heart, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, entering our reality where we most need it. Speak, directly to his Heart, whatever words seem right; let him speak to you, with or without words.
Good Father, I know you're with me.
Here I am in this new day.
Put my heart once more next to the Heart of your Son Jesus,
that is given for me and that comes
to me in the Eucharist.
May your Holy Spirit make me your friend and apostle, available to your mission.
I put in your hands my joys and hopes,
my works and sufferings, everything that I am and have,
in communion with my brothers and sisters of this worldwide prayer network. Together we pray with the Holy Father and the whole people of God for this month’s Intention.
Our Father … Hail, Mary …
Glory be …
www.popesglobalprayer.net; www.popesprayer.va, www.clicktopray.org, www.thepopevideo.org