Once a month, I lead an Hour of Prayer service for the archdiocese. The monthly Hour of Prayer includes a short reflection on the prayer intention for the hour, a scripture rosary led by parishioners, quiet time in adoration before the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, and concludes with Benediction.
During the past two years, we have prayed for many intentions during these prayer services. We prayed multiple times for the end to abortion and that governments throughout the world extend legal protections to the unborn, which is the right of the unborn. We will continue to pray for this intention regularly. As the bishops in their introductory letter to the document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship stated: “The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed. At the same time, we cannot dismiss or ignore other serious threats to human life and dignity such as racism, the environmental crisis, poverty, and the death penalty.”
We have prayed many prayers. We have prayed for peace and justice in our country. We have prayed for an end to violence, racism, the current global pandemic, and all those affected by these. We have prayed for persons living in poverty, for those who are sick, suffering from addictions, and homeless. We have prayed for abused and victimized children by clergy and other trusted adults. We have prayed for our church. And, we have prayed for respect and care for our planet, God’s creation.
In January of this year, we joined the National Prayer Vigil for Life, hosting a holy hour together with dioceses coast to coast. We prayed an additional Hour of Prayer after the violence at the United States Capitol building, praying for peace, tolerance, understanding, and an end to violence, reminding ourselves of Jesus’ commandment to love one another. Loving one another is not optional. Jesus says in John 15:12, “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” And, then five verses later in John 15:17, “This I command you: love one another.”
In February, we prayed for married couples and families. In March, we prayed for the success of Pope Francis’ historic visit to the people of Iraq and the safety of all.
April is designated “Child Abuse Prevention Month.” Accordingly, our Hour of Prayer intention last month was for the protection of children and young people. We reflected upon these words: “Throughout the Gospel, Christ calls upon His followers to care for the most vulnerable among us, especially children. Our faith also calls for us to uphold the value of human life and the dignity of the human person. The protection of children and youth from abuse and other harm is a respect life issue, and we must all do our part to uphold this ideal.”
During this month, on Tuesday, May 11th, we will pray for mothers and expectant mothers. Then next month, on Tuesday, June 15th, our prayer intention is for fathers.
Even during challenging and difficult times when we feel helpless, we always have the power of prayer. Jesus taught us how to pray in Matthew 6:9-15 and Luke 11:2-4 and pray with faith and confidence in Mathew 7:7 and 21:21-22. And St. Paul encourages us to pray without ceasing in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. I invite you to join me each month in person or via live stream, praying together as an archdiocese for our many needs and intentions.
“With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones.” (Ephesians 6:18)