Front Row With Francis: Prayer and the Synod

Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the GospelOn Wednesday, March 25, in the Church the Annunciation, Pope Francis celebrated the Incarnation as Archangel Gabriel visited the humble Maiden of Nazareth and  announced she would conceive and give birth to the Son of God. The pope incorporated this feast day into his Wednesday address as he continued his course of catechesis on the family because, with Joseph, Jesus was born into an actual human family. This Wednesday focused on an actual pause for prayer.

During the Annunciation and Incarnation, we see the Divine at work in an ordinary home. According to Pope Francis, the “condescension of God,” means the Almighty reveals Himself to us and humbly takes on our flesh in the modest home of Mary. Similarly, man has permission to allow God to come into his ordinary life with blessings, illuminating his mundane daily ritual with love, the light of the truth, faith, beauty and hope.

The second aspect of March 25, Solemnity of the Annunciation, is the Day for Life. Twenty years ago, Saint John Paul II signed the Encyclical Evangelium vitae. To recall this anniversary, many followers of the Pro-Life Movement were in the crowd on Wednesday.

In Evangelium vitae, the family occupies a central place, in as much as it is the womb of human life…. the human couple is blessed by God from the beginning to form a community of love and of life, to which is entrusted the mission of procreation. Celebrating the Sacrament of Marriage, Christian spouses render themselves available to honor this blessing, with Christ’s grace, for their whole life. On her part, the Church commits herself solemnly to take care of the family that is born, as gift of God for its life itself, in good and bad times: the bond between the Church and the family is sacred and inviolable. The Church, as Mother, never abandons the family, even when it is humiliated, wounded and mortified in so many ways. Not even when it falls into sin, or distances itself from the Church; she will always do everything to try to take care of it and heal it, to invite it to conversion and to reconcile it with the Lord.

In order to fulfill this mission, the Church must pray– “a prayer full of love for the family and for life, a prayer that is able to rejoice with those who rejoice and suffer with those who suffer”. Only prayer will sustain and animate the Church with God’s grace. Only with prayer will the Church remain committed, grow more united and stand “in the testimony of the truth of the love of God and of his mercy for the families of the world, none excluded, be it inside o outside the sheepfold”.

Francis admonishes the entire Church needs to pray, from  the “Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, priests, men and women religious, lay faithful.” Pope Francis has often suggested specific prayers, calling us to pray for the Holy Spirit to fill the Church, together as a family, for those in prison, for his own ministry and to pray the Rosary.

Quoting scripture, the pope stresses our prayer should “not be lacking.” This means we should constantly be praying as St. Paul says “without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17.) The phrase Pope Francis uses is to commend a prayer with “holy insistence.” Then as an example, to start us praying for the Synod on the Family, Pope Francis leads the Wednesday crowd in a prayer, a prayer he hopes everyone will continue in their own homes.

 I know that this morning you were given a little prayer card and that you have it in your hands. I invite you to keep it and to carry it with you, so that in the coming months you can recite it often, with holy insistence, as Jesus has asked us. Now we recite it together:

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
In you we contemplate
The splendor of true love,
We turn to you with confidence.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
Make our families, also,
Places of communion and cenacles of prayer,
Authentic schools of the Gospel,
And little domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth
May our families never more experience
Violence, isolation, and division:
May anyone who was wounded or scandalized
Rapidly experience consolation and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
May the upcoming Synod of Bishops
Re-awaken in all an awareness
Of the sacred character and inviolability of the family,
Its beauty in the project of God.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
Hear and answer our prayer. Amen.

Melanie Jean Juneau is a petite wife, writer and mother of nine children who blogs at Joy of nine9. When the words "The Joy of Mothering on a Hobby Farm" popped into her head as a subtitle for her short stories, it was like an epiphany for her because those few words verbalized her experience living with little people.The very existence of a joyful mother of nine children seems to confound people. Her writing is humorous and heart warming; thoughtful and thought provoking with a strong current of spirituality running through it. Part of her call and her witness is to write the truth about children, family, marriage and the sacredness of life, especially a life lived in God.