Church Pastors. That the Church’s pastors may be ever more docile to the action of the Holy Spirit as they teach and serve the people of God.
This month Pope Benedict XVI asks us to pray for pastors — bishops, priests, and deacons — that they may allow themselves to be directed by the Holy Spirit as they teach and serve.
A pastor of the Church is a shepherd whose job is to protect and feed the flock, and even, like the Good Shepherd, lay down his life for the sheep. To serve others as Christ did requires that pastors yield themselves to the leadings of the Holy Spirit. For it is only by the Holy Spirit that a person can understand the truth of the gospel, much less teach and serve in accordance with it.
It is easy for men, even good men, to lean upon their own understanding, to set their own course of action, and to say and do things that are not in line with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is powerful, but it does not overwhelm one’s free will. A person who seeks to be guided by the Holy Spirit must be docile or willing to be led by the Holy Spirit.
Pope Benedict urges pastors to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in prayer. “A fundamental priority of priestly life,” said the Holy Father last summer, “is to be with the Lord and thus to have time for prayer.” A priest who “lives with the Lord” will be “available to men and women — the suffering, the dying, the sick, children….”
The Holy Spirit wants to transform all pastors into the image of Christ, to give them gifts of ministry and develop godly virtues in them. The Holy Spirit wants to enlighten, strengthen, and guide all pastors into fruitful service that truly glorifies God.
Let us entrust all our pastors to the Holy Spirit. Let’s pray that all will earnestly seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in everything they do. Let’s pray that they will make themselves both available and obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
How might you become more docile to the Holy Spirit?
Romans 15:14-16: I myself am convinced about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to admonish one another. But I have written to you rather boldly in some respects to remind you, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in performing the priestly service of the gospel of God, so the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Peace in Africa. Guided by the Second Special Assembly of the African Synod of Bishops, may the local Church find effective ways to promote reconciliation, justice, and peace.
The Church in Africa is growing at a faster rate than anywhere else in the world, well exceeding the growth of Africa’s general population. From 2000 to 2006, 28.3 million people were added to the number of African Catholics, a 21 percent increase, while vocations to the priesthood increased 23 percent.
Fifteen years ago African bishops convened in Rome to develop a concerted approach to the continent’s challenges. Since that first African Synod of Bishops in 1994, Africa has seen a smooth passage from apartheid to democracy in South Africa and significant steps toward democratization in several countries with the opposition party winning elections in Senegal, Ghana, Malawi, and Zambia. Refugees find the Church one of the few institutions that care for them and serve their needs for safe haven, health care, and legal assistance.
Although the second African Synod is as yet unscheduled, its preparation document laments that violence, war, and genocide continue in Somalia, Darfur, the Ivory Coast, and the Congo, nations assembled of multiple ethnic peoples by European colonial masters. At the same time, poverty, disease, and especially HIV/AIDS continue to ravage large numbers of African men, women, and children.
This month Pope Benedict asks us to pray for the Church in Africa, that ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ may advance reconciliation, justice, and peace at the local level. Writing last year to an assembly of the Catholic Biblical Society in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, the Pope said that “the community of believers can be the leaven of reconciliation, but only if she remains docile to the Spirit and bears witness to the gospel, only if she carries the cross like Jesus and with Jesus.”
Docile to the Spirit — that phrase was also used in this month’s general intention. By repeating it, the Pope emphasizes our absolute dependence on the Spirit of Christ in our every effort to live and spread the gospel.
How is the Holy Spirit moving you to reconcile with those who hate you or have hurt you?
Ephesians 2:14-16: For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh…that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it.
Prayer of the Month
Holy Mary, Mother of God, Protectress of Africa, show us Jesus, Son of God and your Son. Guide our path of conversion, so that Jesus will let his glory shine in and on us in all the places of our personal, family, and social life.
Mother, filled with Mercy and Justice, through your docility to the Spirit of Consolation, obtain the grace for us to be the witnesses of the Risen Lord that we may become the salt of the earth and light of the world.
Mother of Perpetual Help, to your maternal intercession we entrust the preparation and fruits of the Second Synod for Africa. Queen of Peace, Our Lady of Africa, pray for us!
—from Prayer for the Preparation of the 2nd African Synod