One monthly minute of a powerful, moving prayer request

By Dave Jolivet
Anchor Editor
davejolivet@anchornews.org

FALL RIVER, Mass. — They last slightly more than one minute, but in those roughly 80 seconds, our Holy Father is a modern-day Jesus, reaching out to all God’s children in every nation, with a special request to pray with him for a world in dire need of assistance from its inhabitants.

Each month, the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (apmej.org) releases a video of the pope invoking the prayers of all people for a specific need. The English subtitles accompany the pope’s dialogue, along with soothing background music, and an often powerful and moving video related to that month’s topic.

The monthly prayer video started in January, and that video and all subsequent months are available for all to see, hear, and act upon.

The videos are available at several websites, but perhaps the easiest to navigate is www.thepopevideo.org.

The existence of the Holy Father’s powerful monthly messages was brought to The Anchor’s attention by Father Freddie Babiczuk, pastor of St. John of God Parish in Somerset.

“I just discovered it in July,” he told The Anchor. “I have placed it on the parish website so that parishioners can see the video, and incorporate the monthly prayer intention of the pope into their own prayer life. 

“I would hope to eventually incorporate it into the Faith Formation program so that the students can make the pope’s intention for all of humanity part of their prayer as well.”

The short, meaningful videos would indeed provide a wonderful topic of discussion for Faith Formation gatherings of all ages. Its one-minute format has no problem keeping the attention of the viewer, and provides discussion topics that could last hours.

The topics all touch upon problems and struggles people across the world encounter on a daily basis. Each of the monthly videos are not time-sensitive, so none of them have lost its meaning or importance of the need for world-wide prayer.

The inaugural video appeared in January with the topic of, “Interreligious dialogue.”

A verbal replay of the January video provides a prime example of the simplicity of the delivery, yet power of the message. 

The sequence opens with Pope Francis gently introducing his request. “Most of the planet’s inhabitants declare themselves believers,” he said. “This should lead to dialogue among religions. We should not stop praying for it and collaborating with those who think differently.”

The video introduces four individuals; a Tibetan priest, a rabbi, a Catholic priest, and an Islamic leader. “I have confidence in Buddha,” said the first, followed by, “I believe in God,” “I believe in Jesus Christ,” and “I believe in God, Allah.”

Pope Francis continues, “Many think differently, feel differently, seeking God or meeting God in different ways. In this crowd, in this range of religions, there is only one certainty we have for all: We are all children of God.”

Each of the four individuals say, “I believe in love.”

“I hope you will spread my prayer request this month: That sincere dialogue among men and women of different faiths may produce the fruits of peace and justice,” the pope said. “I have confidence in your prayers.”

The pope has completed nine such videos, with the following prayer requests: February — Care for Creation; March — For Children and Families in Difficulty; April — Small Farmers; May — Respect for Women; June — Solidarity in Cities; July — Indigenous Peoples; August — Sports, a Culture of Encounter; and September — For a More Human Society.

In each of the videos, Pope Francis uses his signature style of plain and simple dialogue, delivered as one might think Christ spoke to those “who had ears,” or as a loving grandfather or uncle. His words alone gently drive home the message, but the accompanying videos often enhance the prayer request with moving and powerful scenes.

Along with a monthly prayer theme, Pope Francis is utilizing modern technology to provide faithful with a daily prayer as well through the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network.

At clicktopray.org, visitors can press the “Click to Pray,” button at the bottom of the screen to navigate them to daily prayers from the pope for morning, afternoon and evening.

Each day of the year the user is gifted with three short, thought-provoking prayers. And, like the monthly videos, each daily prayer for 2016 is archived and can be found by scrolling through the daily prayers.

On its website, the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network states its mission, explaining it “responds to the challenges of humanity and advances the mission of the Church as expressed in the pope’s monthly prayer intentions, as well as your own prayer intentions.”

Pope Francis has continued the tradition of his two predecessors, St. Pope John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, by utilizing modern technology, and reaching out to people where they can be found. And Pope Francis has undoubtedly taken this to new levels through blogs, Tweets, Facebook pages, audio and video messaging.

In Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep, the shepherd doesn’t simply sit about and wait for the sheep to return, he goes out and seeks it. The Holy Father is doing the same thing, looking for lost sheep where they can be found — with a simple, gentle, yet powerful methodology.




© 2017 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing  †  Fall River, Massachusetts