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Pope Francis Missionary Intention for November

"That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors." Let us pray.

The word seminary comes from the Latin word seminarium which means a seed plot, where seeds sprout. In order for that to happen, the seeds need a good environment and a gardener to tend them.

The seeds of a vocation to the priesthood and religious life also need tending. They require a good environment in which to grow and gardeners who will protect and nurture them there.

Speaking to the bishops of Burundi last May, Pope Francis said that seminarians and religious "must have as formators mentors who are true examples of joy and religious understanding, who stay close to them, who share their lives, who are truly listening to them in order to understand them properly for the sake of guiding them better."

Ultimately the Holy Spirit is the Divine Gardener. The Spirit works through people experienced in the ways of God, discerning and wise, worthy examples for young vocations to emulate.

We all have a part to play in this because, as Pope Francis wrote in his 2014 Message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations: "A vocation flows from the heart of God and blossoms in the good soil of faithful people, in the experience of fraternal love."

Luke 8: 4-8 Some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold.

Pope Francis General Intention for November

"That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others." Let us pray.

Loneliness is part of the human condition. Even if we are surrounded by loving family and friends, loneliness creeps into our lives. Even with communication technologies designed to keep us connected to one another we can feel isolated. Virtual connections are not real human connections.

The fact is we are ultimately lonely for God. As St. Augustine famously put it: "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you." Each of us has a God-shaped hole in our hearts.

We feel alone sometimes, but we are never alone. God drew close to humanity in Jesus, who shared our joys and sufferings and even our loneliness. How did Jesus feel when his closest disciples abandoned him? He even felt at times that God had forsaken him.

On the cross he even prayed the terrifying words of Psalm 22: "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" But the Father had never abandoned the Son. He turned Jesus' loneliness into triumph-not just for Jesus, but for us.

Pope Francis said: "How many difficulties are present in the life of every individual; yet as great as these may seem, God never allows us to be overwhelmed by them. I would like to say forcefully: Always know in your heart that God is by your side; he never abandons you! Let us never lose hope! Let us never allow it to die in our hearts!"

In our prayer this month we reach out to all those who are lonely-the widowed, misunderstood, rejected, and isolated. As we pray, we allow the Holy Spirit to show us ways that we can be God's presence in their lives.

John 14: 15-21: "I will not leave you orphans."

Prayer Intention of the Institute for November

"That the Saints may support us in our missionary service and obtain for all deceased missionaries the fullness of joy in the presence of the Father." Lord hear us.

Migrants in the Mediterranean

A record number of people have drowned while crossing the Mediterranean to land in Europe this year, as continued turmoil in the Middle East and east Africa drives thousands to Europe's shores. In the first nine months of 2014, over 2,500 people died - a new record, according to Amnesty International. The majority of them had travelled from Eritrea, Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia - crossing by boat from Libya to Italy and Malta. (Telegraph, Sept. 30th.). European aid groups have warned of an imminent surge in migrant deaths in the Mediterranean as Italy prepares to phase out its year-long "Mare Nostrum" search and rescue operation and replace it with a more limited mission headed by a European agency. Mare Nostrum - Latin for "our sea" - was launched last October in response to two catastrophic boat incidents that killed over 360 people, mostly Eritreans. It has since saved the lives of tens of thousands of desperate migrants seeking to cross into Europe from North Africa and the Middle East. The operation is largely credited with saving some 400 lives a day, but at a high cost: roughly 114 million euros ($142 million) per year.

Prayer of the Month

How long, O Lord? Will you utterly forget me? How long will you hide your face from me? How long shall I harbour sorrow in my soul, grief in my heart day after day? Look, answer me, O Lord, my God! Let my heart rejoice in your salvation; let me sing of the Lord, "He has been good to me." (Psalm 13)

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