Praying with the pope in May
In this month of May we’re asked to pray with Pope Francis for respect for women: that in every country of the world, women may be honoured and respected, and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed. The pope’s Evangelisation Intention concerns the Holy Rosary: that families, communities and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelisation and peace.
It’s well known that, not long ago in our own history, women had to struggle for the most basic of human rights – for example, education, the vote, and elementary human respect. In many parts of the world women still do not receive esteem and respect which should, of course, be unquestioned; yet many suffer awful violence and mutilation. To deny this respect is to degrade a person’s human dignity, which is, as we often profess, in the image and likeness of God. In our Church there remain major barriers to women despite the inescapable fact that every one of us owes our faith and our hope to at least one woman! Yet society still frequently accords women only a secondary status, a situation that still is not challenged enough. In our parishes and organisations, work and ministry done by women is too often seen as secondary to that of men. That there are harmful and insulting patriarchal attitudes, even including outright sexism, still evident in our society, even in our church, ought to be a cause for reflection and penance for God’s people.
Pope Francis has said, in his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, that the “equal dignity of men and women makes us rejoice to see old forms of discrimination disappear, and within families there is a growing reciprocity”. There are still places where that discrimination is slow to disappear and where there is horrid violence inflicted upon women. In a less violent, but also damaging way, sexist remarks and so-called “jokes” remain acceptable. Part of the point about such misuse of language is that it impairs that equal dignity and may even lead to a warped justification of violence against women. It will undermine family life and teach children offensive attitudes. The follower of Christ must see to it that such behaviour destroys all human solidarity and thus must be repudiated. This is true not least in the Church.
This month’s Evangelisation Intention cites the Rosary as a means to evangelisation and peace. Since evangelisation is the mission of the whole church as well as that of each baptised Christian, we should always be open to ways of fulfilling that mission. Without prayer, our efforts will be mere proselytism, which is not the same thing; we are, as missionary disciples, not sent out to garner votes as in a political election! Pray this month’s missionary intention, then, and be open to considering different forms of prayer to open ourselves to the grace and help that God will never deny to the ones who ask it.
Moment for personal reflection: who are the women to whom I owe everything I have? Do I notice attitudes in myself that degrade women, attitudes that I need to explore and challenge? Where have I been complicit in behaviours that fail to show respect for women; in my friendship circles, my workplace or in my worshipping community?
Prayer moment: If you haven’t prayed the Rosary in a while, try it again; look up the different Mysteries and spend a moment with each, drawing strength from each one. If you do pray the rosary regularly, offer it specifically this month for the Holy Father’s intentions. These intentions appear also on the website www.clicktopray.org. On Click-to-Pray, you’ll see several easy ways of putting more prayer into your life. We have composed three brief reflections for each day – morning, noon and evening – that change each day. This is what we call our Daily Prayer Pathway and anyone can use it. Then there is a way of joining the Pope in prayer for the great challenges that face humanity, by joining him in those monthly intentions. There’s a “prayer wall” where you can ask the prayers of others around the world for your particular intention, and pray with them for theirs. There’s also a blog and an outline of our “Way of the Heart”, and more besides.
So, log on to clicktopray.org, make the Daily Prayer Pathway, with its Morning Offering, your own; post your own prayers and intentions for others to pray with you, join the Holy Father in prayer about all the challenges that face us and together let’s make each day different!