Monday, February 11, 2013

Let prayer be your life...

With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer. Pope Benedict XVI, February 11, 2013, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Dear children! Today also I want to call you all to prayer. Let prayer be your life. Dear children, dedicate your time only to Jesus and he will give you everything that you are seeking... part Medjugorje message, September 25, 1987

• The web portal of Radio Vatican reported on July 21, 2007, that Pope Benedict XVI, while on retreat in Lorenzago di Cadore, spent one hour in prayer in front of an image of Our Lady of Medjugorje.

Radio Vatican said that it was a very poignant moment.

“The Pope went to the small chapel in the forest and prayed in front of the image of Our Lady of Medjugorje. An interesting story is connected with this image: it was brought in the 80’s and was stolen. After some time it was eventually returned and placed back in the small chapel. The Pope prayed the Rosary and spent about one hour there,” said the Radio Vatican journalist.

Lightning strikes Vatican on day Pope announces resignation

photo by Allesandro Di Meo

• It is reported that Pope Benedict XVI made a decision to step down after completing his intensive apostolic journey to Mexico and Cuba in March 2012. In his resignation statement today the Holy Father confirmed that his strength had deteriorated in past months and he will now devote his time and serve the Church through a life dedicated to prayer.

We shall probably never know the full extent of Benedict XVI’s interest in Medjugorje and the messages given by Our Lady. He has never denied the strong rumour that he made two visits to the village when he was head of the Congregation of the Doctrine for Faith. And we should not forget that it was Benedict who instigated the current international commission studying the Medjugorje phenomenon. Neither was he adverse to praying in front of an image depicting Our Lady of Medjugorje. He was reported to have done so in 2007.

But did Benedict pay any attention to Our Lady’s messages to the world each month as his predecessor John Paul II had done?

How long Benedict had been engaged in examining his conscience before God, as he puts it, on the matter of renouncing his ministry, only he and the Lord know, but on July 25, 2011, when Pope Benedict was resting on vacation at Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence, Our Lady gave this message to the world via the Medjugorje seer, Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti:

Dear children! May this time be for you a time of prayer and silence. Rest your body and spirit, may they be in God’s love. Permit me, little children, to lead you, open your hearts to the Holy Spirit so that all the good that is in you may blossom and bear fruit one hundred fold. Begin and end the day with prayer with the heart. Thank you for having responded to my call.

If Benedict was beginning to feel his increasing age around this time then this message may have registered strongly. Our Lady’s call to prayer is not new. It is the foundation for peace, a peace the world cannot give.

Two months before the Pope set off on his visit to Mexico and Cuba, Our Lady’s messages once again began to focus on and emphasise the need for prayer...

January 25... “Open yourselves to prayer until it becomes a joy for you... Through prayer the Most High will give you an abundance of grace and you will become my extended hands in this restless world which longs for peace.”
February 25... “At this time in a special way, I call you to pray with the heart.”
March 25... “May prayer become a need for you to grow more in holiness every day.”
April 25... “Today I am calling you to prayer...”
May 25... “God desires to give you joy and peace through prayer but you, little children, are still far away, attached to the earth and earthly things.”
June 25... “If you pray, little children, you are with me and you are seeking the will of my Son and are living it. Be open and live prayer and, at every moment, may it be for you the savour and joy of your soul.”
September 25... “Open your heart and pray with gratitude for all the good that you have.”
October 25... “Renew fasting and prayer because satan is cunning and attracts many hearts to sin and perdition.”
November 25...  “In this time of grace I call all of you to renew prayer.
January 25, 2013... “Also today, I call you to prayer. May your prayer be as strong as a living stone.”

The Holy Father’s decision to dedicate the rest of his life to prayer and serve the Church in this way can only be an absolute joy for our Lady’s heart. And when we are reminded again later this month of her words, “Thank you for responding to my call” we shall be certain that the Holy Father will be among those she is speaking of, and especially for giving such a wonderful witness in his resignation statement to his future commitment to prayer.

Benedict VXI is giving up much, the first Pope to resign from his position in 600 years. But yet his self-sacrificing for the good of the Church and his renewed and public declaration to a life of prayer is a wonderful example of leadership and service in itself.

Fulfilling the Gospel...

• I wonder what went through Benedict’s mind last Friday when he read the gospel for the day and came to the words: Jesus took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd...