Home The Foundation Reflections
Holy Father’s Prayer of Intention: March
That the Church may appreciate the urgency of formation in spiritual discernment, both on the personal and communitarian levels.
This is a very Ignatian or Jesuit intention, recognizing the importance of discerning (seeing) the will of God. It is a skill that can be taught and improved with practice. As a Jesuit, the Holy Father clearly recognizes the importance of formation in discernment of vocations and apostolates both for individuals and in communities.
Pope Francis, as a son of St. Ignatius, is well familiar with the Spiritual Exercises developed by the founder of the Society of Jesus in the early 16th century. These guided reflections presume that spirits good and evil are influencing God’s creatures by means sometimes blunt and obvious, but at others more subtle and nuanced.
Members of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, the Apostleship of Prayer, commit daily to making an examination of conscience. During this break from the ordinary busyness of the day, we reflect on how we have received grace from God, how we have moved towards him or away, and which spirits may have been motivating us towards good or evil. St. Ignatius considered this daily examination to be extremely important. He himself is said to have practiced self-examination to a heroic degree.
Friends, discernment is not merely the territory of priests or religious. All vocations are best discerned carefully, in prayer, and in dialogue with a trusted spiritual advisor. While vocations to marriage, to a profession, to religious life, or the clerical state certainly require such reflection, groups can also practice communal discernment. Religious congregations certainly do so, but also boards of trustees, civic groups, even a book club might discern God’s will in spiritual conversation when considering mission, identity, or major policy decisions.
May the good Lord grant his Church and all individuals and groups within it the gift of discernment.
Source: Apostleship of Prayer
Holy Father’s Prayer of Intention: FEBRUARY
That those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist any lure of corruption.
The abuse of power for personal benefit, corruption, is a problem across all human history. Bribery is often involved. One hears sadly of corrupt narcotics officers working for the mob, or of favors granted at various places of employment for a kickback, or at high levels of government for a public works contract. The Holy Father has taken a firm stand against such immoral and illegal activity, asking us to pray that those tempted to corruption may be delivered from illicit enticements.
This is also a very Ignatian intention: the founder of the Jesuits knew that riches, power and pride were all closely interrelated. The enemy of our human nature leads us to think our gifts and abilities are our own or that having some power might bring us material, social or spiritual wealth. Sadly, in this progression many of us fall prey to the sin of pride, thinking ourselves better than others, or even placing our will above the Lord’s in fashions small and large.
The struggle against corruption is a priority for Pope Francis. On a visit to the Italian city of Cesena last October he characterized corruption as the “termite of politics” and contrary to the common good. In that pastoral visitation listeners applauded his challenge to reject “even the most minimal form of corruption.”
Later that same year the Holy Father called corruption a “smog” that “pollutes” society. Pope Francis invites Catholics to be “crafty,” having a “healthy lack of trust” for those promising easy riches. Such craftiness, he enjoined, calls for careful self-examination in the face of temptation, and a healthy prayer life.
Source: Apostleship of Prayer