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.
Speaking to the Italian Catholic Adult Scout Movement, Pope Francis said: “Our time cannot neglect the ecological question, which is vital for man’s survival, or reduce it to merely political questions: it is, in fact, a moral dimension that touches all, so that no one can be indifferent to it.”
Then he told them: “To live in closer contact with nature as you do implies not only respect for it, but also the commitment to contribute concretely to eliminate the wastefulness of a society that tends increasingly to dispose of goods that are still usable and which can be given to those who are in need.”
A culture of waste. A disposable culture. Pope Francis is concerned that our wasteful misuse of the goods of creation is contributing to the devastation of the earth and jeopardizing the well-being of future generations.
On All Saints Day he said: “We destroy creation, we devastate lives. Destroying what God has given us, the most beautiful things that he has done for us. Man takes possession of everything, believes he is god, believes he is the king.”
Human beings are not gods who can use the gifts of creation in whatever way we want. We are stewards, care-takers, of creation and must use it according to the will of the Creator. We may feel that what we do or don’t do is so small that it doesn’t make a difference. But Pope Francis reminds us in The Joy of the Gospel: “Small yet strong in the love of God, like St. Francis of Assisi, all of us, as Christians, are called to watch over and protect the fragile world in which we live, and all its peoples.”
We begin doing so with our prayers.
How is a wasteful attitude toward creation related to a culture of death—a world in which human beings are discarded?
Isaiah 45: 8-13 It is I who made the earth.
In the last part of his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites us to reflect on how the Risen Jesus came to the apostles to comfort and strengthen them. He writes: “Consider the office of consoler that Christ our Lord exercises, and compare it with the way in which friends are wont to console each other.”
This month Pope Francis asks us to pray that our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted may feel the consoling presence of the Risen Lord. Though physically distant from us, they are spiritually close. Suffering because they are Christians, they have a special place in the Heart of Jesus, and, if we are united to that Heart, they will have a special place in our hearts as well.
Persecution is increasing. Last November Prince Charles presented to the British Parliament the Religious Freedom in the World Report 2014, a survey conducted by journalists and scholars and published by Aid to the Church in Need.
The report stated that religious freedom was curtailed to some degree in 115 of the world’s 196 nations. Active persecution was taking place in 20 countries. In 14 of those countries, Muslim extremists were responsible, while in 6 of them Christians suffered at the hands of authoritarian and often atheistic regimes.
Pope Francis believes persecution should bring Christians of all denominations together. “The blood of Jesus,” he said, “poured out by many Christian martyrs in various parts of the world, calls us and compels us towards the goal of unity. For persecutors, we are not divided. We are one in their eyes! For persecutors we are Christians! This is the ecumenism of blood that we experience today.”
May our prayerful solidarity with persecuted Christians help them know they are not alone nor abandoned. May it help to bring us together as the One Body of Christ.Reflection
Do I get angry at those who are persecuting Christians? How can I channel that anger into a positive response?
1 Corinthians 12: 12-26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it.
Lord help us and give us the grace of hope. Give us the grace of courage to emerge from all this destruction, devastation, relativism of life, the exclusion of others, exclusion of values, exclusion of all that the Lord has given us, the exclusion of peace. Deliver us from this and give us the grace to walk in the hope of finding ourselves one day face-to-face with you, Lord. Amen.
--from Pope Francis’ 2014 All Saints Day homily
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