by Fr David Stewart SJ
One of our innovations, as we have been redeveloping the Pope’s personal Prayer Network (the Apostleship of Prayer, as it was known), is our hugely popular Click-to-Pray online service. It’s the Pope’s app that connects your prayer with the world. Thousands, even tens of thousands, all people of good will, have downloaded our Click-to-Pray app to their phones or tablets while others visit the website daily to ‘Pray with the Pope’, as we’re always inviting you to do. Each day, the app offers a different set of short and accessible prayers. The first is to start off the day, as we pray to make ourselves available for Christ’s mission; a second one, very brief and focussed, is for at least once during the day, to help us recall the offering we made. Then the third, later in the evening, is a look back over the day, following the advice we get from St Ignatius of Loyola, in which we ask God’s spirit to show us how we responded to God’s invitation in the day just ending.
When we make that Morning Offering, whether in the much-loved traditional form or in one of the new ways proposed on the Click-to-Pray site and app, we are uniting our offering with the Pope’s Intention for the month. It has been part of the mission of this Network, the world’s largest, to spread the word of the Pope’s Intention for the challenges that face humanity and the mission of the Church. By uniting our prayerful self-offering to the concerns that are in the Pope’s heart, we are in fact drawing together in prayer with the whole Church, the whole People of God. In this month of November, the Holy Father’s invitation is a heart-felt prayer that ‘the language of love and dialogue may always prevail over the language of conflict’.
So many parts of our world are burning up with conflict today; rage is everywhere you look. The language of conflict is everywhere, every day, reflecting the deepening polarisation that is a feature of our fevered times. Many of us appear to have forgotten how to listen. Dialogue has listening at its heart, listening for the best in what the other person might be saying rather than listening only for error or for an opportunity to attack, to condemn. Famously, when St Ignatius of Loyola sent a small band of the early Jesuits to the Council of Trent (another divided, febrile period in our history), he gave them strict instructions to deal respectfully with their opponents: ‘Be slow to speak,’ he advised them, ‘and only after having first listened quietly, so that you may understand the meaning, leanings, and wishes of those who do speak’. In our time, also among the people of God, that false kind of listening, which of course is not really listening at all, has increased, while looking for the good in the other has decreased if not vanished.
In this month’s Living Prayer booklet of the Pope’s Prayer Network in the UK and Ireland, we have a great reflection on this month’s intention from the General Sectary of Pax Christi, Pat Gaffney. She increases our understanding of ‘the language of love and dialogue’ that the Pope mentions. If we’re looking, as surely we should, for deep, lasting peace with justice, we need ‘deep listening even with a perpetrator or “enemy”. We want to appeal to the other to make better choices that will affirm the humanity of all those involved’. We appeal; we don’t demand or enforce. We remember to recognise that common shared humanity. When we do so, we have drawn ourselves away from anger and hatred, and begun to see the good in the other and in what they say ... and we draw away from the condemning, hate-filled language of conflict. We will have begun, properly, deeply, to listen. Dialogue, love and peace with justice will then flow, and perhaps even change our world.
Three Invitations or Challenges for November:
1. Reflect: What are the people and situations that need reconciliation in your heart? Where is there a need for deeper listening? Offer forgiveness to those whom you have hurt, with concrete words and gestures. Even a tiny gesture or single word can be enough!
2. Make a resolution to cultivate dialogue, reconciliation and mutual understanding in any situations of conflict and rupture in your own community. Make a real effort to build bridges and promote peace, one person at a time!
3. Organise, or plan with your group or parish, a moment of prayer in your community that might help people abandon disinterest and to begin to sympathise with the realities of conflict and violence that the world is experiencing.
Prayer Moment for November:
Traditionally, in this month, we remember those who have died, those who have gone before us marked with the signs of faith. So many of those have died brutally and tragically in situations of war and conflict. As you reserve a special place in your November prayers this year, take some moments to pray for those who have lost their lives because the language of conflict had expelled that language of love and dialogue. ‘Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord …’
A suggested daily offering prayer for this month:
Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace,
In a world torn by conflict and violence, I often feel lost and
insensitive to the suffering of so many brothers and sisters.
I ask you to touch my heart to be a builder of dialogue and peace,
beginning with those whom I must forgive and ask for forgiveness.
Send, Lord, your Spirit to the hearts of those who make war,
may they feel moved to dialogue and away from conflict.
Grant me always your peace, and the grace to transmit it to my brothers and sisters.
Click to Pray:
Log on to our website www.click-to-pray.org and download 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 you with all who pray with the Pope in a quick, easy and creative way. And in the evening, the Ignatian review of the day helps you to notice God’s presence in your day, to recognise where the Good Spirit has been prompting you and offering you opportunities to practice the language of dialogue and love. It involves a moment of repentance if we realise we have followed a less loving path and invites us to begin to pray for the next day, that we offer ourselves anew and become more open the Giver of all good gifts.
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 – a lovely Christmas present, perhaps? Order with delivery details from email@example.com or by text to 074 3259 1117. See also http://www.jesuit.org.uk/pope%E2%80%99s-worldwide-prayer-network-2019-resources-published
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