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.
Loneliness is part of the human condition. Even if we are surrounded by loving family and friends, loneliness creeps into our lives. Even with communication technologies designed to keep us connected to one another—telephones, email, social media—we can feel isolated. Virtual connections are not real human connections.
The fact is we are ultimately lonely for God. As St. Augustine famously put it: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Each of us has a God-shaped hole in our hearts.
We feel alone sometimes, but we are never alone. God drew close to humanity in Jesus, who shared our joys and sufferings and even our loneliness. How did Jesus feel when his closest disciples abandoned him? He even felt at times that God had forsaken him.
On the cross he even prayed the terrifying words of Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” But the Father had never abandoned the Son. He turned Jesus’ loneliness into triumph—not just for Jesus, but for us.
Pope Francis said: “How many difficulties are present in the life of every individual; yet as great as these may seem, God never allows us to be overwhelmed by them. I would like to say forcefully: Always know in your heart that God is by your side; he never abandons you! Let us never lose hope! Let us never allow it to die in our hearts!”
In our prayer this month we reach out to all those who are lonely—the widowed, misunderstood, rejected, and isolated. As we pray, we allow the Holy Spirit to show us ways that we can be God’s presence in their lives.
What are some of the best ways that I have found to deal with loneliness?
John 14: 15-21: “I will not leave you orphans.”
The word seminary comes from the Latin word seminarium which means a seed plot, where seeds sprout. But in order for that to happen, the seeds need a good environment and a gardener to tend them, pulling out the choking weeds and watering them.
The seeds of a vocation to priesthood and religious life also need tending. They require a good environment in which to grow and gardeners who will protect and nurture them there. So the future of the Church depends upon the growth of these seeds. The growth of these seeds depends upon good gardeners.
Speaking to bishops of Burundi last May, Pope Francis said that seminarians and religious “must have as formators priests who are true examples of joy and priestly perfection, who stay close to them, who share their lives, who are truly listening to them in order to understand them properly for the sake of guiding them better.”
Ultimately the Holy Spirit is the Divine Gardener growing future priests and religious and giving them growth. The Spirit works through people experienced in the ways of God, discerning and wise, worthy examples for young vocations to emulate. In other words, those who work in the formation of priests and religious must be well-formed themselves. Join Pope Francis in praying this month for good mentors for young seminarians and religious.
We all have a part to play in this because, as Pope Francis wrote in his 2014 Message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations: “A vocation flows from the heart of God and blossoms in the good soil of faithful people, in the experience of fraternal love.”
What would I like to say to those responsible for the formation of priests and religious to help them?
Luke 8: 4-8 Some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold.
How long, O Lord? Will you utterly forget me? How long will you hide your face from me? How long shall I harbor sorrow in my soul, grief in my heart day after day? Look, answer me, O Lord, my God! Let my heart rejoice in your salvation; let me sing of the Lord, “He has been good to me.”
Links for November, 2014 Evangelization Intention
To register as a member of the Apostleship of Prayer, to subscribe to leaflets, or to order additional leaflets for distribution to others, please contact us. Thank you for your generous support of our ministry.
APOSTLESHIP OF PRAYER
1501 S. Layton Blvd
Milwaukee, WI 53215-1924
Copyright 2014: Apostleship of Prayer