Pope Francis Missionary Intention for February
"That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community." Let us pray.
The focus of the Church in the Extraordinary Synod is on the family "as the essential agent in the work of evangelization." It's within the family that the future generations will hear the Gospel and grow in the faith.
The family itself is a witness to the world of God's love. The marriage of a man and a woman is a sign to the world of the spousal relationship between Christ and the Church. Since the relationship between Christ and the Church is permanent, faithful, and fruitful, married couples are called to witness to those same qualities.
The final document of the Extraordinary Synod said that "separation and divorce are always wounds which cause deep suffering to the married couple and to their children." They also have "serious consequences for society as a whole."
"In accordance with Christ's mercy, the Church must accompany with attention and care those of her children, who show signs of a wounded and lost love, by restoring in them hope and confidence…. Merciful love, as it attracts and unites, transforms and elevates. It is an invitation to conversion."
Pope Francis has called the Church a "field hospital." We share his concern for the wounded of our world, while at the same time we never forget the obligation to address the root causes of their brokenness. As we pray for separated spouses, we ask the Holy Spirit to help us find ways, in the words of the final document, "to accompany these people with solicitude" and "great respect."
Ephesians 5: 31-33 The two shall become one flesh. I speak in reference to Christ and the Church.
Pope Francis General Intention for February
"That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity." Let us pray.
There are millions of people in tens of thousands of prisons the world over. Each prisoner is a person made in the image and likeness of God, someone for whom Jesus suffered and died. They all need our prayers to learn to live a life of dignity in often dehumanizing circumstances.
St. Therese of Lisieux began praying for a prisoner named Henri Pranzini when she was 13. He had murdered two women and a girl and was sentenced to death. She was afraid that he was going to die unrepentant and alienated from God. She joined various sacrifices to her prayers, skipping dessert and offering up unpleasant tasks-all for his conversion.
The day of his execution came and went, and Therese wanted to find out if he had gone to confession before he died. But her father had forbidden his children from reading the papers. Therese wrote in her autobiography: "I didn't think I was disobeying when reading the passages pertaining to Pranzini." In doing so she discovered that he had not gone to confession, but that, at the very last second, he lifted his head from the guillotine and kissed the cross that the priest was holding out to him three times. Then, Therese wrote, "his soul went to receive the merciful sentence of Him who declares that in heaven there will be more joy over one sinner who does penance than over ninety-nine just who have no need of repentance."
Therese was convinced that her prayers and sacrifices had played a role in that last-second conversion. She called Pranzini "my first child."
In a world that Pope Francis calls a "disposable culture," it's easy to forget those who are locked away from society. This month we want to remember them in a special way. We believe that our prayers can work miracles of conversion and healing.
Acts 16: 16-34 Paul and Silas sing hymns in prison while others listen.
We begin this month with the annual World Day of Peace. The theme Pope Francis has chosen for this day is "Slaves No More, But Brothers and Sisters." That theme confronts one of the root causes of war-seeing others as objects to be enslaved, bought, and sold.
So we pray that all people of good will from all the world's religious traditions may know and hold fast to the truth of the human person and work together for peace.
Prayer Intention of the Institute for February
"That, following their recent General Assembly, the Secular Institute of Comboni Missionary Women may take up with determination the priorities that emerged from it. Lord hear us."
In Malawi there are 20 prisons of one kind or another with an estimated prison population of around 13 thousand detainees. The main problem is over-crowding. "The prisons are over-crowded," says Fr. Tiziano, "and the cells are in effect big dormitories where not everyone has the good fortune of a place on the floor to sleep. Many sleep sitting on the floor with their heads on their knees, squashed one against another thus ensuring a ready breeding ground for infections such as tuberculosis". The prisons in general contain many minors even though officially there are three prisons assigned especially for young offenders - Mikuyu, Bvumbwe, and Kachere. "Speaking with the prisoners," Fr. Tiziano continues, "I am convinced that many of these boys could be returned to their homes to be looked after by their families. It seems that magistrates judge these young men much too superficially. In fact there is a significant number of cases where innocent youths have been put in prison because the police have been unable to arrest a brother or neighbour for the offence committed".
Prayer of the Month
Jesus, crucified as victim and convict, remember us who turn to you. Remember us with the healing and peace that only you can give to lives that are broken and lost. Remember us this day and everyday that we may be one with you in paradise. Amen.
--from the Dismas Ministry's Union of Prayer