August 2016

UNIVERSAL INTENTION

Sports: That sports may be an opportunity for friendly encounters between peoples and may contribute to peace in the world.

Many people are obsessed with sports. A tremendous amount of money is spent on stadiums, player and management salaries, tickets, and clothing—not to mention gambling. Sporting events are entertainment, but can be blown way out of proportion. Moreover, the competition inherent in sporting events can lead to cheating, drug use, disrespect, and even violence.
Yet sports also have potential to do good. Pope Francis sees them as an opportunity for “encounter” in which the other person is recognized as good. Speaking to the International Olympic Committee, he said this.

“Engaging in sports, in fact, rouses us to go beyond ourselves and our own self interests in a healthy way; it trains the spirit in sacrifice and, if it is organized well, it fosters loyalty in interpersonal relations, friendship, and respect for rules. It is important that those involved at the various levels of sports promote human and religious values which form the foundation of a just and fraternal society. This is possible because the language of sports is universal; it extends across borders, language, race, religion and ideology; it possesses the capacity to unite people, together, by fostering dialogue and acceptance. This is a very valuable resource!”

Sports carry the potential for promoting “peace, sharing, and coexistence among peoples.” This is so important to Pope Francis, that the Vatican will be hosting a first-ever conference this October—“Sports at the Service of Humanity.” As we pray that sports may always be used, in the Pope’s words, to “build bridges, not walls,” we pray in a particular way for this October conference.

Reflect
How do sports help or hinder me in my love for others, both friends and enemies?

Scripture
1 Timothy 4: 7-10 “Physical training is of limited value, devotion is valuable in every respect.”


EVANGELIZATION INTENTION

Living the Gospel: That Christians may live the Gospel, giving witness to faith, honesty, and love of neighbor.

The Letter to the Hebrews says that “the word of God is living and effective” (4: 12). This “word” is first of all Jesus himself. Jesus is the word that God spoke to the world—God’s perfect communication of who he is. This “Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1: 14).

Through the Church, the Body of Christ, the word takes flesh and is “living and effective” today. The words which Jesus taught us are not meant simply to be repeated, but lived, for, as the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.”

In this intention, Pope Francis says that there are three things that show Christians are living the Gospel. The first is “faith.” This is more than believing that God exists. It involves a relationship with God that includes trust. Jesus told us not to worry (see Matthew 6: 25-34) and the trusting peace that follows will lead people to wonder what our secret is.
Secondly, living the Gospel involves honesty. Jesus said he was the truth (John 15: 6) and
that he came to witness to the truth (John 18: 37). Our honesty with God, others, and ourselves is a hallmark of our Christianity.

But perhaps the greatest witness to our living the Gospel is our love for others. As Jesus said, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13: 35).

We pray with Pope Francis that all Christians may live the Gospel, for we may be the only Gospel that some people will ever see or hear.

Reflect
How am I living the Gospel in ways that others can read?

Scripture
Colossians 3: 12-17 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”


Links for August, 2016

Universal

Get Involved:

  • October, 2017 Vatican Conference on Faith and Sport sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture: http://www.sportforhumanity.com/
  • Beyond Sport: an organization that supports, promotes, and develops inspirational projects using sport from across the world: http://www.beyondsport.org/
  • Special Olympics: “a global movement of people creating a new world of inclusion and community, where every single person is accepted and welcomed, regardless of ability or disability”: http://www.specialolympics.org/

Evangelization

For Further Reflection:

July 2016

UNIVERSAL INTENTION

Indigenous Peoples. That indigenous peoples, whose identity and very existence are threatened, will be shown due respect.

We are all familiar with the history of indigenous peoples, those people who already live in the land when immigrants arrive—the Native Americans in this country. In their encounters with other peoples, they often lost their land, their culture, and through war and disease, their very lives. Today many suffer terribly from poverty and its accompanying problems of violence and addiction. Native peoples in Latin America continue to be threatened as others push into their territory looking for cheap land.

When he visited Bolivia in 2015, Pope Francis admitted that members of the Church were party to these injustices. He repeated words of Pope St. John Paul II, saying, “I kneel before God and implore forgiveness for the past and present sins of her sons and daughters.” He also reminded people that there were “thousands of priests and bishops who strongly opposed the logic of the sword with the power of the Cross and who defended the rights of indigenous peoples.”

We are called to follow their example today by showing respect to indigenous peoples and defending their rights.

Pope Francis continued: “To our brothers and sisters in the Latin American indigenous movement, allow me to express my deep affection and appreciation of their efforts to bring peoples and cultures together where each group preserves its own identity by building together a plurality which does not threaten but rather reinforces unity.”

Unity amid diversity—this is what the Church strives to achieve. It is the work of the Spirit which enriches the Church and society with the gifts of native peoples. We ask the Holy Spirit to continue this great work.

Reflect
What are some ways that different cultures have made the Church a richer community?

Scripture
1 Corinthians 12: 4-11 To each the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.


EVANGELIZATION INTENTION

Latin America and the Caribbean. That the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, by means of her mission to the continent, may announce the Gospel with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.

The words “mission to the continent” in this intention refer to a commitment the Latin American bishops, including the future Pope Francis, made at a meeting in Aparecida, Brazil in 2007. Receiving that document, Pope Benedict XVI said: “it was a cause of joy for me to know of the desire to launch a ‘Continental Mission’ which the Bishops’ Conferences and each Diocese are called to examine and carry out.”

The document itself said: “Everyone in the Church is called to be disciples and missionaries....We summon all our brothers and sisters so that united, with enthusiasm, we may carry out the Great Continental Mission. It will be a new Pentecost that impels us to go, in a special way, in search of the fallen away Catholics, and of those who know little or nothing about Jesus Christ, so that we may joyfully form the community of love of God our Father.”

Latin America is the most Catholic continent, yet it has some of the worst poverty and corruption. Conversion is needed. In his opening address to the meeting, Pope Benedict said: “This being a continent of baptized Christians, it is time to overcome the notable absence—in the political sphere, in the world of the media and in the universities—of the voices and initiatives of Catholic leaders with strong personalities and generous dedication, who are coherent in their ethical and religious convictions.” He reminded “the laity of their responsibility and their mission to bring the light of the Gospel into public life, into culture, economics and politics.”

We join our Latin American brothers and sisters this month in not only praying for this great continental mission, but also striving to be missionary disciples ourselves so that Christian values may permeate our own society.
 

Reflect
What are some ways that “the light of the Gospel” can be brought “into public life, into culture, economics and politics” without being rejected as the imposition of religion on non-believers?

Scripture
1 Peter 2: 1-12 Keep away from worldly desires that wage war against the soul.