Earlier this week, I ran across a list of Pope Francis’ monthly prayer intentions for 2020. This is part of the Apostleship of Prayer, started in 1844 by a group of Jesuit seminarians. They were eager to start their missionary work in India and the Americas, but were stuck in their academic formation. A wise spiritual director reminded them that the salvation of souls is fundamentally a supernatural goal, and could therefore most effectively be achieved through supernatural means. The grace of prayer is where this starts. And so they started the Apostleship of Prayer as a way of empowering all Catholics, no matter where they were or what they were doing, to be a part of the missionary work of the Church.
This group grew and spread rapidly, and in the 1880’s, Pope Leo XIII saw the power in this simple approach to missionary work by the whole church. He called on the members to take on specific monthly intentions, given by the Pope, as part of their daily prayer. The Apostleship of Prayer quickly earned the nickname, “the Pope’s own prayer group.” In 2000, there were over 40 million members. In 2018, the name officially changed to ‘The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network’.
You and I do not have to be an official member to join them in praying for the Pope’s intentions. As the pope is meant to be a visible sign of our unity as a Church, to pray with him is a powerful way to live out being members of the one Body of Christ.
Personally, I’ve found the intentions to be helpful reminders of different things and people to pray for. Often in my intercessory prayer, I’m only thinking of things immediately around and before me. The Pope’s petitions draw us to re-member our brothers and sisters in Christ in different parts of the world.
I’m including the list of the Holy Father’s Monthly prayer intentions below. I suggest clipping this article or printing it out and taping it to your fridge or bathroom mirror as a helpful reminder to join with the Pope and the whole Church in prayer.
It also gives an idea for how we can pray as the domestic church. Perhaps gather as a couple or a family, and together come up with monthly prayer petitions for the whole year. Then at a meal together, or prayers in the morning / evening, make sure to include both the Pope’s intention and the family intention for the month.
JANUARY – Promotion of World Peace
We pray that Christians, followers of other religions, and all people of goodwill may promote peace and justice in the world.
FEBRUARY – Listen to the Migrants’ Cries
We pray that the cries of our migrant brothers and sisters, victims of criminal trafficking, may be heard and consid-ered.
MARCH – Catholics in China
We pray that the Church in China may persevere in its faithfulness to the Gospel and grow in unity.
APRIL – Freedom from Addiction
We pray that those suffering from addiction may be helped and accompanied.
MAY – For Deacons
We pray that deacons, faithful in their service to the Word and the poor, may be an invigorating symbol for the entire Church.
JUNE – The Way of the Heart
We pray that all those who suffer may find their way in life, allowing themselves to be touched by the Heart of Jesus.
JULY – Our Families
We pray that today’s families may be accompanied with love, respect and guidance.
AUGUST – The Maritime World
We pray for all those who work and live from the sea, among them sailors, fishermen and their families.
SEPTEMBER – Respect for the Planet’s Resources
We pray that the planet’s resources will not be plundered, but shared in a just and respectful manner.
OCTOBER – The Laity’s Mission in the Church
We pray that by the virtue of baptism, the laity, especially women, may participate more in areas of responsibility in the Church.
NOVEMBER – Artificial Intelligence
We pray that the progress of robotics and artificial intelligence may always serve humankind.
DECEMBER – For a life of prayer
We pray that our personal relationship with Jesus Christ be nourished by the Word of God and a life of prayer.