REFLECTIONS ON THE POPE'S MONTHLY INTENTIONS
Editor's Note: Apostleship of Prayer receives monthly prayer intentions from the pope and urges Christians throughout the world to unite in prayer for those intentions. The reflections below seek to illuminate the Holy Father's concerns.
Do you approach the new calendar year with hope—or It’s spring. A time for planting. A time to remember the goodness of creation and how God made humanity “to cultivate and care for it” (Genesis 2: 15). Last June Pope Francis asked: “Are we truly cultivating and caring for creation? Or are we exploiting and neglecting it?”
He went on to say that “we are often guided by the pride of dominating, possessing, manipulating, and exploiting; we do not ‘preserve’ the earth, we do not respect it.” Thus, “the cause of the problem is not superficial but deeply rooted.” It’s rooted in the human heart prone to sin.
Pope Francis, echoing his predecessors, says there is a close connection between “environ- mental ecology” and “human ecology.” “We are living in a time of crisis; we see it in the environment, but above all we see it in men and women.”
A “culture of waste tends to become a common mentality that infects everyone. Human life, the person, are no longer seen as a primary value to be respected and safeguarded, especially if they are poor or disabled, if they are not yet useful—like the unborn child—or are no longer of any use—like the elderly person. This culture of waste has also made us insensitive to wasting and throwing out excess foodstuffs, which is especially condemnable when, in every part of the world, unfortunately, many people and families suffer hunger and malnutrition.”
Thus, Pope Francis asks us to pray and “to make the serious commitment to respect and care for creation, to pay attention to every person, to combat the culture of waste and of throwing out so as to foster a culture of solidarity and encounter.”
In what practical ways can I foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources?
Romans 8: 19-23 All creation is groaning in labor pains until now.
This month Pope Francis directs our thoughts and prayers to a group of people who need to hear the Gospel, its good news that suffering and death are not the end of our story.
Suffering—our own or someone else’s—tests our faith. We wonder how a good, all-loving, and all-powerful God can allow people to suffer. Why doesn’t God do something? Often the suffering experience darkness and silence.
But the message of Christianity is that God loves us so much that he became one of us in order to share our life, even its sorrows and pain and death itself. Then he rose from the dead and triumphed over death, not just for himself but for all. This is the hope we bring to the suffering.
We can also remind the suffering that their lives have purpose, and that their pain, when united to Christ’s cross, is a powerful prayer. At the end of the Second Vatican Council the bishops, addressing the poor, the sick, and the suffering, said: “All of you who feel heavily the weight of the cross, you the unknown victims of suffering, take courage. You are the preferred children of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of hope, happiness and life. You are the brothers of the suffering Christ, and with Him, if you wish, you are saving the world. You have been called by Christ and are His living and transparent image.”
This is a hope that only the Risen Lord—Victor over sin, suffering, and death—can give. This is the hope we ask may be given to those tested by pain and sickness.
In what ways have I or am I offering my suffering for others?
Colossians 1: 24-29 It is Christ in you, the hope for glory.
O Lord, good Father, who in your providence have entrusted the earth to the human race, grant, we pray, that with the fruits harvested from it we may be able to sustain life and, with your help, always use them to promote your praise and the well-being of all. Amen.
--from the Roman Missal Collect for the Votive Mass “After the Harvest”
Links for April, 2014 Universal Intention
Links for April, 2014 Evangelization Intention
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