[Editor's Note: 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.]
Common Good. That all citizens may participate actively in working to achieve and maintain the common good.
In this era of special interest politicking, the Church reaffirms our duty to seek the common good — not just our own good. Pope Benedict XVI asks us to pray that all citizens — not just all Christians — work for the common good.
What does the Pope mean by "common good"? The common good, says the Catechism, is a "sum of social conditions" that allow individuals and groups to attain personal fulfillment. The common good requires respect for the person, social development, and peace (1906-1909). Whenever we have a chance to advance any of those, we should do so.
If a person or a group suffers degradation, deprivation of essentials, or violence in any form, we must do what we can to restore that person or group to dignity, an acceptable standard of life, and peace. In other words, we are to do good in the world as Jesus did. More than an institution, the Church is Christ's presence in the world.
By saying that "all citizens" should seek the common good, the Pope assumes a universal morality. Whatever religion or circumstances, people everywhere share a basic understanding of what's right. Conscience tells all of us that it's wrong, for example, to kill, enslave, or use others. The Pope is asking us to pray that all may be called back to following their consciences.
Besides praying, we can also act to promote the common good. That's why we have a duty to vote — and when we do, we are to vote our consciences, not our preferences. When we pray and when we act, we remember that the common good is "founded on truth, built up in justice, animated by love" (1912).
Pray that all may be motivated to seek the common good. The whole world is at stake.
Besides voting your conscience, is there anything else you can do to promote the common good?
1 Peter 2:15-17 — "For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor."
Help for Missionaries. That all Christians, aware of their missionary duty, may actively help those engaged in the evangelization of peoples.
After Jesus died and rose from the dead, His disciples realized why He had come. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, they understood that it was all about the love of God. As St. John wrote, "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him (I John 4:9). This was the Good News He had commanded them to proclaim to the ends of the earth.
In his message for the 80th World Mission Sunday, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI stated that love, and love alone, is the "soul" of evangelization. "Unless the mission is oriented by charity, that is, unless it springs from a profound act of divine love, it risks being reduced to mere philanthropic and social activity."
Similarly, Pope John Paul II wrote in the Encyclical Redemptoris Missio that we come from the God of Love, we are saved from sin and death by the God of Love, and we are sent into the world to represent the God of Love. Apart from that great Love, therefore, we Christians have nothing to say or to do (n. 60).
"This I command you," Jesus said, "to love one another" (John 15:17).
The Holy Spirit is still guiding the Church. Love calls many to missions at home and throughout the world. We pray that love will call many more. Whatever our own call, we pray that God's love will inspire all of us to obey, to serve, to work, to speak, to go, and to give generously. We pray that the Good News will go forth always and everywhere in love.
Love is a high standard by which to measure our motives. How does love motivate what you do every day?
Acts 13:47: "For the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.'"
Daily Offering Prayer
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.
Prayer of the Month
O St. Therese, Patroness of Missions, take under your care the generous souls who declare by their words and actions the redemption accomplished for all by the Lord Jesus Christ. Let them be filled with the Spirit of God; let their hearts burn with the love of Jesus Christ and of their neighbor.
Missionaries freely forsake their families and native land. Help them bring many into God's family in heaven. With great courage they face sacrifice, painful toil, dangers, and even death itself. Let them lead many into the peace and love of God.
St. Therese, now that you are in heaven and seeing Jesus face to face, please intercede for them. With your help may they bring many souls to Jesus. Amen.
(Adapted from The Raccolta)