Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Intentions of Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, for October 2008:

General Prayer Intention:
"That the Synod of Bishops may help all those engaged in the service of the Word of God to transmit the truth of faith courageously in communion with the entire Church."
Missionary Prayer Intention:
"That, faithful to the sacrament of matrimony, every Christian family may cultivate the values of love and communion in order to be a small evangelizing community, sensitive and open to the material and spiritual needs of its brothers."


October 2008

The Apostleship of Prayer receives monthly prayer intentions from Pope Benedict XVI and urges Christians throughout the world to unite in prayer for those intentions. The reflections below seek to illuminate the Holy Father's concerns.

General Intention:

Pope Benedict XVI asks us to pray for this month's Synod of Bishops as they discuss how we can use the Bible to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. The goal is that Catholics will spend time reading the Bible and, by doing so, grow in knowledge and love of God in unity with the whole Church. Strong in the Word of God, we may become courageous witnesses to the world.

Jesus promised the Apostles that the Holy Spirit would lead the Church into all truth (John 15:26). The Church sees the Word of God and the Tradition of the Church as the two great sources of this truth, and it is the Church's ultimate responsibility to codify the truths of our faith. Otherwise the meaning found in the Bible becomes subjective, with readers or groups of readers interpreting the Word of God in any way they wish.

Most Protestant denominations were born of such independent readings of the scriptures. As a result most Protestants have no authority to establish the true meaning of the Bible, and their churches split and splintered thousands of times, each group claiming to have the true interpretation but with no authority to do so. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church has upheld one faith.

The doctrines of the Church actually illuminate scripture. Take the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Although a triune God is clearly implied by the scriptures as a whole, especially in light of the New Testament, the doctrine of the Trinity was not proclaimed by the Church until the fourth century. That proclamation was based on scripture, at least two centuries of tradition in the Church Fathers, and the need to counter the Arian heresy denying the divinity of Jesus.

Thus, safeguarded from error, we Catholics benefit a great deal from reading the scriptures, whether we do it publicly at Mass or privately. If we hear or read the Word in a prayerful manner, we receive faith, hope, and love, grow in unity with the Church, and find new courage to proclaim the Gospel.

How has the bible enriched your faith? Can you think ways to increase your time reading and praying the scriptures?

Psalm 119:97-105 - How I love your teaching, Lord! I study it all day long. Your command makes me wiser than my foes, for it is always with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, because I ponder your decrees. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.

Mission Intention

October is the month of the Rosary and the Missions. Pope Benedict asks us to pray this month that every Christian community may participate in missions through prayer, sacrifice, and concrete help. The Pope wants us to take missions seriously because he is aware of several grave threats to evangelization.

Some Christians have decided that evangelization must be modernized. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith calls it a "growing confusion" which misinterprets the "missionary command of the Lord" as a suggestion merely to present Christian ideas rather than preach repentance and Baptism into Christ. Some say that it is enough to try to help people act according to their own consciences without attempting to convert them to Christ, that it is enough to help people become more faithful to their own religions without attempting to convert them to the Catholic faith ("Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization," Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, December 2007).

But the Pope strongly contradicts these errors. In the same document cited above, we are reminded of the words of Jesus, who said, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you" (Jn 20:21). By his Church, Christ wants to be present in every time and place on earth in order to reach every person so there may be "one flock and one shepherd" (Jn 10:16). "The Apostles, therefore, prompted by the Spirit, invited all to change their lives, to be converted and to be baptized. It is the same Lord Jesus Christ who, present in his Church, goes before the work of evangelizers, accompanies it, follows it, and makes their labors bear fruit: what took place at the origins of Christian history continues throughout its entire course."

The Pope calls the Church to recommit ourselves to evangelization. How shall we proceed? Let us do what the Apostles of Prayer have always done. Like St. Therese of Lisieux, who never set foot in a mission field, we direct our prayers to God on behalf of missionaries and those they seek to reach. We sacrifice our time and our money to support them. We speak to others about the importance of evangelization. We look for concrete ways to build up a missionary culture. We deeply respect the Pope's wisdom in making these requests of us.

The Pope stresses the word "concrete" in this intention. How have you acted in concrete ways to support the missions? What might you do this month?

Luke 5:10 - Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men."

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