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Holy Father’s Prayer of Intention: september

That politicians, scientists and economists work together to protect the world’s seas and oceans.

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Photos from the space station show planet earth as a beautiful blue marble with two-thirds of it covered by water. But here on earth, it is not so beautiful. We hear stories and see pictures of destruction.   Ocean plastics kill millions of marine animals each year. Whales die with stomachs filled with plastic refuse. Coral reefs that sustain fisheries and tourism are disappearing. Every year 300 million tons of metals, sludge, and solvents are dumped into the world’s waters. One-third of fish species are threatened with extinction.

The Bishops of the Philippines once asked: “Who has turned the wonder world of the seas into underwater cemeteries bereft of color and life?” We who are causing this destruction can and must reverse our direction and come to the aid of our planet. Following the lead of Pope Francis, we must protect and preserve our oceans.

How? First we must acknowledge the reality, the destruction that continues. We must grow in appreciation of the place that the oceans play in our lives. Life came from and continues to come from water, from the oceans. Pope Francis has called for an “ecological conversion.” Not only must birds and animals be protected but now the oceans themselves.

Pope Francis explained that Christians have a responsibility to care for the world’s seas and oceans, and to keep them from being littered “by endless fields of floating plastic.” Calling this an emergency that must be fought with active commitment, he pleaded: “It is my prayerful hope that Christian communities may contribute more and more concretely to help everyone to enjoy this indispensable resource, in respectful care for the gifts received from the Creator, and in particular rivers, seas and oceans.”

Source: Apostleship of Prayer

 

Holy Father’s Prayer of Intention: AUGUST

That families, through their life of prayer and love, become ever more clearly “schools of true human growth”.

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Let us first look at the Holy Family for inspirations. While the Holy Family may seem like an unreachable ideal for some, the circumstances faced by the Holy Family in life are more than relatable. Life got real very quickly for the Holy Family: Joseph had to leave his home country with his young family in order to avoid persecution; their only child was lost for three days during a family trip, and talked back at them upon being found. While many things can be distilled from these events, let us focus on one: Listening. Joseph listened to the voice of God through the angel and fled to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-14); Mary listened to Jesus after three distressing days of seeking but not finding (Luke 2:51b). After the finding, Jesus returned to Nazareth with his parents and listened to them by being obedient (Luke 2:51a).

Listening needs to be understood in two ways: Listening to God through our prayers, and listening to the voice of God in others. Listening is truly an art, as we can have ears but not hear the voice of God (Mark 8:18). Even when we hear, we may not listen. In this day and age, we are easily distracted by many things, notably technology. You may have already been distracted by updates from your smartphone as you read this very reflection. In order to live a life of prayer and love within the context of the family through listening to the voice of God, we need to be very intentional about our use of technology, lest it become a hindrance rather than a help.

As we have learned from the example of the Holy Family, families are to become schools of true human growth not simply for the sake of the children. Mary listened to the words of Jesus even when he was twelve years old because she recognized something profound in his words. Young or old, we Christians are called to turn our hearts to God. As children learn from their parents, parents also learn from their children. The heartfelt and directed nature of a child’s prayer teaches us adults to be less guarded and abstract in our own prayers.

The pivotal role of the family is especially highlighted in Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation in 2016, Amoris Laetitia. Pope Francis cautions against the mentality that the formation of children can somehow be outsourced to places such as the church parish or the school. The lived, credible example of Christian love – especially that of family members – exerts the most influence on children. As such, families are truly the schools where the formation of the human person takes place.

How have I been challenged to make my family more of a school of true human growth? This question is just as pertinent to those of us who do not have a family of our own, especially when parental figures are not guaranteed in the fragile state of the modern family. We need not be parents or grandparents to be a credible example of Christian love to children; this is already possible when we find ourselves as aunts and uncles, or close family friends. With this in mind, how can I contribute to this effort of helping a family to become a school of true human growth with my extended family, or the families of my friends?

Source: Apostleship of Prayer