Praying with the Pope in December
THE POPE’S DECEMBER INTENTION – A FUTURE FOR THE YOUNG
Education is a human right. In 1948, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights enshrined the right in international law. Denial of education is one way in which the young suffer through no fault of their own. The very young, less visible, with no power, unable to speak for themselves, suffer greatly in many parts of our world, for various reasons including denial of education. This month, in his prayer intention, entrusted to his personal worldwide prayer network, Pope Francis invites all of us to pray with him “that every country determine to take the necessary measures to make the future of the very young, especially those who suffer, a priority”.
Since that declaration, other major international conventions have confirmed that every country must provide education, starting with the very young. Yet many countries, not least those in the Majority World, still crippled with debt owed to the rich North, struggle to meet this requirement. Three years ago, the United Nations launched the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), tough but practical, necessary proposals for every country to eradicate poverty while redirecting policy towards sustainability, to “heal and secure our planet”, that the young will inherit. These SDGs demand that no-one be left behind. As Pope Francis pointed out to a young gathering before last year’s Synod On Young People, “too often the world treats young people as “disposable” by not providing an adequate education or job opportunities.”
It is not just the denial of education that affects the very young and their futures; our world makes them suffer in other ways. To echo the words of the Intention, alleviation of their suffering is, too often, far from a priority. The December Intention invites us to pray for, and to work for, this prioritisation. We need never to forget that even very young children are still living in extreme poverty. This is true of our so-called advanced civilisations, not only the Global South. Others are victims of trafficking, another blight on our societies. Others are forced to become child soldiers; images of young children bearing heavy weapons are obscene pictures that shame us all. In each of these unacceptable situations, decent education is absent – what futures will these children have?
PRAY … AND ACT!
It is impossible to read the Gospels without recognising two essential calls on us: firstly, that every marginalised person must be part of our prayer and secondly, that our prayer must always lead to action, or at the very least to prepare our hearts, mobilise ourselves, to do good, starting with those on the margins. Jesus concluded the parable of the Good Samaritan with the simple, stark injunction, “go and do likewise”. Saint Oscar Romeo, preaching not long before his assassination, declared that ““besides reading the Bible, the Word of God, a Christian who is faithful to that Word, must also read the signs of the times, current events, to illumine them with that Word”. The Intention invites us to such a reading and to ask, “how am I called to illumine the future of the very young?”.
A FESTIVE SEASON?
Christmas, we are frantically told by media & advertising, is a time for children although not all part of the tinselly picture. Neither is Mary’s child, through whose life, death and resurrection we are called to mission. This Christmas, we can resolve to echo in our own lives and prayer the Pope’s petition that each country give young people a future and a meaningful life, which is everyone’s human and divine right.
Prayer is God’s gift to us and, as St.Paul noted, it’s God’s Holy Spirit who prays within us, if we’re open to that gift. Prayer changes us makes us more ready to act; prayer mobilises us. Most of us, quite often, make the understandable mistake of thinking that we say prayers to change a situation or to change another person. We pray to be changed and then to work for change, for the sake of the Gospel and of humanity. A Morning Offering prayer, such as the Apostleship of Prayer (now the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network) has proposed for 175 years, can focus the rest of our day. Here is one possible morning prayer, from our “Living Prayer 2019” booklet (see below for the 2020 edition):
“Father, at the beginning of this new days I pause for a few moments to enjoy the beauty of your creation. May your Holy Spirit guide me along the path of truth and strengthen me as I strive to be charitable to those around me. I offer you every beat of my heart, my every thought, and my simplest works this day, for the intention of Pope Francis this month. Our Father…”
We might prefer to pray the traditional form of the Daily Offering, a prayer said by many generations of generous people over the years, in these or similar words:
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys and sufferings
of this day for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all my relatives and friends,
and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father – Amen.
The Morning Offering is part of the Daily Prayer Pathway, practised by countless Christians in the PWPN, the Pope’s personal prayer group and the largest in the Church. You can then say a brief prayer around noon and pray an Ignatian-style review of the day in the evening. Please ask for our Daily Prayer Pathway and Review of the Day cards. Check also our popular Click-to-Pray App and website, with its new set of prayers each day, direct to your phone or Tablet.
WHERE WE ARE
The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, legally based in the Vatican City State has its UK base at St. Ignatius Jesuit Church, Stamford Hill, London N15. Our Daily Prayer Pathway, a way of the heart, includes the traditional Morning Offering to the Heart of Christ, united with the Holy Father’s intention (ask us to send you some prayer-cards). See the Holy Father personally present his Intention each month on www.thepopevideo.org. We offer our App., Click-to-Pray (www.clicktopray.org), that gives you a new set of brief prayers every day – together, we can make each day different!
ORDER RESOURCES and ONLINE
1: Living Prayer 2020; booklet now available to order at GBP1.75 + £1 P&P (UK nations only). Place order on our direct voicemail 020 8442 5232 or by email to [email protected] with full delivery address. Digital payment only; please note that we cannot accept cheques.
2: Sacred Heart Messenger: a modern message in a much-loved tradition. Email: [email protected] or phone 00353 1 676 7491.
3: NEW! Click-to-Pray eRosary: to order, see www.clicktoprayerosary.org
4: All our websites and apps: search clicktopray.org, thepopevideo.org and popesglobalprayer.net
David Stewart SJ