Perhaps many of you are familiar with The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, better known as the Apostleship of Prayer. Each month, the Holy Father asks us to include an intention in our morning offering that addresses the challenges facing humanity and assists the mission of the Church.
Pope Francis's Prayer Intention for February 2022 is "for religious sisters and consecrated women; thanking them for their mission and their courage; may they continue to find new responses to the challenges of our times."
Each religious congregation was founded for a particular ministry to serve the human community. These women formed the backbone of the Church’s mission to educate, provide health care, feed, clothe and work with the poor homeless and orphaned. In general, each founder answered God’s call to serve a particular need in the Church at their particular time in history.
As human life developed, the needs of God’s people also developed and women religious were called to serve those needs. After the Second Vatican Council each group was asked to revisit the original charism or gift to the Church as envisioned by their founder. Today they are involved as advocates for victims of human trafficking, newly arrived immigrants, protectors of the environment, defenders of religious freedom and pro-life causes and peace-makers. And all this is done for the greater glory of God and in service to the people of God in need.
Again, these religious are facing a change in history. Their numbers are smaller and the needs are as great as ever. This month we are invited to join Pope Francis and these vowed women as they search for new responses to God’s call to them. It demands a dramatic change in thinking and use of resources, engaging interested women and men who are called into this new way of serving.
Spend some time thinking about what you know about women religious in general and your particular experience with Sisters. How have they been instruments of God’s love and presence in your life? For what have you to be grateful? What do you know about the work of Sisters today? Are you involved with them in any way? Is God asking you to be involved with your gifts in service to people in need? Pray for them this month, thanking God for good they have done and ask God to continue their legacy of loving service.
And in the words of St. Angela Merici, the Foundress of the Ursuline Sisters: Act, move, believe, strive, hope, cry out to God with all your heart, for without doubt you will see marvelous things, if you direct everything to the praise and glory of God’s Majesty and the good of souls.