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Holy Father’s Prayer of Intention: December

That every country take the measures necessary to prioritize the future of the very young, especially those who are suffering.

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Shortly after my ordination I was missioned by the Jesuits to England for doctoral studies. There are few British winter traditions more famous than the service of Lessons and Carols held on Christmas Eve at Kings College Cambridge and broadcast throughout the country on the BBC. Since 1919 the choir at Kings College has opened this service with the same hymn, “Once in Royal David’s City,” the simple lyrics of which speak to the profound paradox of the mystery of Christmas. “He came down to earth from heaven, who is God and Lord of all. / And his shelter was a stable, and His cradle was a stall. / With the poor, and mean, and lowly, lived on earth our Savior holy.”

By the mystery of the Incarnation, God became a little child. There are few religious scenes more moving and tender than the infant Jesus in the arms of his mother. The Lord of all, now weak and vulnerable, is enwrapped in the loving care of Mary.

The same Mary is not only our mother but also our model. So many children throughout the world today, likewise weak and vulnerable, are also subject to poverty, injustice, and violence. In them Christ comes to us anew, albeit in “distressing disguise.” As we enjoy the beauty of Christmas creches and hear the old, familiar carols, let us pray that these venerable traditions may really move us to become more like Mary, to set aside our own interests and preoccupations to tend to those of Christ, the Christ who beckons us to care for the vulnerable and needy among us, prioritizing the “very young, especially those who are suffering.”

Source: Apostleship of Prayer

 

Holy Father’s Prayer of Intention: November

That a spirit of dialogue, encounter, and reconciliation emerge in the Near East, where diverse religious communities share their lives together.

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Far too many wars, political divisions, conflicts and hostilities between the diverse religious communities within the Near East have left populations scared and crippled in moral, financial and spiritual ways. This race to dominate has led to vicious murders that have little regard or respect for one’s neighbor.

Local leaders have manifested horrendous attitudes of greed and thirst for power leading to domination and autocratic decision-making, manifesting little interest in what is the best for their people and for humanity as a whole.

May enough people in the Near East be sufficiently open and committed to practice repentance or “teshuvah,” working towards a change of attitude in order to encounter “the other” who is different. This will require greater efforts to engage in healthy dialogue. Such action will remove the possibility of losing hope. We remember the words of Pope John Paul II, how we “must not abandon ourselves to despair.” We pray with Pope Francis for a spirit of openness, for compassion and respect towards those we see as different; may this lead to eventual peace between different communities and diverse religions.

Source: Apostleship of Prayer