Friday, 20 April 2012

Let us pray and pray and pray

Sometimes it seems that we are facing insurmountable obstacles in our quest to proclaim the Gospel of Life.  Sometimes the task seems futile; we will never change anyone's mind, the tide of public opinion is too strongly turned against us.  Sometimes we are alarmed by the hostility of the opposition.  Worst of all, sometimes the division in our own ranks discourages us, because it seems that even within the Church there are so many dissenting and disagreeing voices and not a little capitulation to secular, morally relativistic values.

As usual our wonderful Holy Father knows what to say and how to shine a certain beam of Truth into our situation.  We must simply pray, and trust.  Prayer was the first reaction of the early Church at the "Little Pentecost", Pope Benedict pointed out during his Wednesday catechesis this week.  When Peter and John are released from prison for preaching the Gospel they return to their brethren, who, as the Holy See Press office (reporting on the Holy Father's catechesis) tells us, "did not reflect on how to react or defend themselves, or on what measures to adopt; rather, 'in that moment of trial they all raised their voices together to God', Who replied by sending the Holy Spirit."

The Vatican Information Service continues, " 'This was the unanimous and united prayer of the whole community, which was facing persecution because of Jesus', the Pope explained. It involved the community 'because the experiences of the two Apostles did not concern only them, but the entire Church. In suffering persecution for Jesus' sake, the community not only did not give way to fear and division, but was profoundly united in prayer'.

"When believers suffer for the faith, 'unity is consolidated rather than undermined, because it is supported by unshakeable prayer. The Church must not fear the persecutions she is forced to suffer in her history, but must trust always, as Jesus did in Gethsemane, in the presence, help and strength of God, invoked in prayer'."

In prayer, we are encouraged and strengthened.  In prayer, we learn to see our trials as "part of a plan of love in which the final victory over evil, sin and death truly is that of goodness, grace, life and God".  In prayer, we are profoundly united with each other, because we begin to see with God's eyes and set aside our personal opinions, needs and prejudices.  This seeing with God's eyes means we can evaluate events correctly, because "in prayer, meditating on Sacred Scripture in the light of the mystery of Christ helps us to interpret current reality as part of the history of salvation which God enacts in the world".

It is only through prayer that we can become opened to be channels of the Holy Spirit, which is so important because only in and through His power are we enabled to "become a force for the transformation of reality, changing the hearts, minds and lives of men and bringing the radical novelty of the Gospel".

Thank you, Papa B, for reminding us that in any circumstance, our very first reaction must be to fall to our knees and pray.  We entrust all pro-life causes, the unity and integrity of the Church, the world and all its souls, here and now and always to God and to the intercession of Our Lady.

Particular causes you might like to raise in prayer right now:

The two Glasgow midwives who were told that they had no conscientious right to object to supervising abortions have appealed against the court's decision.  SPUC are underwriting their legal costs.  Read more here.

Doctors who refuse to prescribe contraception to unmarried women or provide sex-change operations may risk being struck off the medical register.

Kerbside vigils against abortion are being held across the country on 28 April under the auspices of SPUC.

And, of course and always, let's pray for vocations to the priesthood, particularly on Vocations Sunday (29 April).  May God send us many courageous men to lead the way in proclaiming the Gospel of Life!

Father of all,
in the name of Jesus Christ
who came not to be served but to serve,
grant us the grace of many new vocations to the priesthood in our diocese.
Give us men after your own heart who,
following the example of the Good Shepherd,
are willing to joyfully lay down their lives
in your service and for your glory.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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