Holy Father’s Prayer of Intention: april
We pray for those who risk their lives while fighting for fundamental rights under dictatorships, authoritarian regimes and even in democracies in crisis.
The first chapter of the book of Genesis tells us that humanity was created “in the image of God” (Gen 1:26-27). This phrase still echoes with fundamental importance for our world today, because the image of God in us is our source of human dignity. While we would hope that thousands of years after these verses were written for us, the human family might have established a greater mutual respect for what it means to be free and responsible creatures, still today many people have their most fundamental rights denied them.
These fundamental rights – to life, to food and water, to shelter, to education, to religious freedom, among others – flow from being made in God’s image and cannot be denied to any member of our human family. Thankfully, many people’s consciences are touched when they see or learn of the injustices suffered by others; and they put themselves into action. Often, those who stand with the oppressed run serious risks themselves, because they courageously point out the faults in a leader’s or a society’s practices. To speak the truth about God and human dignity in a dictatorship, an authoritarian regime, or even a democracy without a solid moral foundation often means having the wheels of political, social, or even military power turned against you.
Some of these situations seem “far from home”; yet, there are also denials of fundamental rights present in our lives. Any such denial touches us all because of our common humanity. As we pray for those who take risks to help others secure their fundamental rights, let us too be willing to add our energy and voice to assure respect for God’s image in each of our brothers and sisters.
Fr. Andrij Hlabse SJ belongs to the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, one of twenty-four Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome. He is studying Patristics and Eastern Christian theology at the Pontifical Oriental Institute (Rome)
Holy Father’s Prayer of Intention: March
Let us pray that we may experience the sacrament of reconciliation with renewed depth, to taste the infinite mercy of God.
Reconciliation has cleansed me dozens of times, but it has resurrected a significant relationship: the one with my father.
In 2011, I knew that I needed to reconcile with my dad – and ultimately with God — for being a distant son. Perhaps my desire was to reconnect with my father after my parents’ divorce in 1995. Perhaps my desire was to yearn for a father-son relationship as I recently had a child of my own. Or perhaps my desire was to resolve that nagging feeling in my soul that I, too, had done something wrong. Whatever the reason, I was asking God for a “fresh start” after years of pain.
I carried decades of frustration, sadness, and burden with me. Sharing a story that desperately needed to be told, I exposed my guilt to my parish priest. I found a safe place in the confessional to share critical details; in fact, during our discussion, we discovered a solution as to how to best proceed. Years of turmoil were transformed into a new beginning for our relationship. What began as an intimidating process ultimately developed into a lifetime of blessings.
Eventually, my dad and I reconciled. Instead of being limited by a deathbed conversation, we could process the past, and more importantly, our future. He now is a vital part of my life. I am proud to include him as a member of my family. My three children relish his company. I cannot wait to visit with him. Importantly, there is hope.
The sacrament of reconciliation has ignited a new relationship with my father. This spiritual healing happened because I involved God at the foundation. I can freely say that I now love my dad. This year we honour St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus. Not all of us had a good relationship with our own fathers. This year, let us pray to God the Father for reconciliation in families.
Source: Apostleship of Prayer - John Kindschuh, Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (United States)