[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.]
Those suffering inner turmoil. That those who are suffering inner difficulties and trials may find in Christ the light and support that leads to authentic happiness.
Mental illness now afflicts one fifth of humanity. Mental illness has grown into a health care emergency, Pope Benedict XVI explains, because of war, oppression, poverty, and whatever robs us of our dignity.
In his message for the 14th World Day of the Sick in 2006, the Holy Father also spoke of mental illness in developed countries. He blamed the loss of moral values, the unraveling of families, spreading loneliness, and neglect of the suffering as causes contributing to mental illness in the U.S. and other wealthy nations.
Then, turning his thoughts to suffering people, the Pope said: "I would now like to address you, dear brothers and sisters, tried by illness, to invite you to offer your condition of suffering, together with Christ, to the Father, certain that every trial accepted with resignation is meritorious and draws divine goodness upon the whole of humanity." We Apostles of Prayer take great encouragement from the Holy Father's affirmation of our simple, profound way of praying.
So we offer ourselves — with all our "prayers, works, joys, and sufferings," in the words of our traditional Morning Offering. Praying in union with Christ and in solidarity with all the Apostles of Prayer worldwide, we are confident that God will hear us and console those who are suffering from any kind of mental illness.
We ask God to restore the mentally ill to sound mind and good health. We ask Him too to free people from the things in our world that contribute to mental illness.
Mental illness in its many forms touches all of us. Can you see some small way you can comfort or befriend one who suffers mental illness? Is there a way you can reduce the circumstances that contribute to mental illness?
Mark 5:1-20 — "As [the people] approached Jesus, they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion, sitting there clothed and in his right mind."
Church in China. That the Church in China may grow in unity and in visible communion with the Pope.
We don't tend to think of China as a Christian country, but recent estimates put Chinese Catholics at 13 million. Because of state persecution, the Catholic Church in China is split, about 5 million belonging to the Patriotic Association and 8 million belonging to the "Underground Church." The latter, larger flock, seeks to remain in unity with Rome.
Things are changing fast in China as it opens up to the world. But the "Underground Church" is still suffering persecution. The faithful are regularly subjected to harassment and arrest; bishops are imprisoned.
Shortly after his election, Pope Benedict expressed hope that Chinese Catholics could be reunited. In March 2006 he made Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kuin a cardinal. Zen, Bishop of China's largest diocese, Hong Kong, has spoken out many times for religious freedom throughout China.
Presently almost all Catholics in China are considered in communion with the Holy Father. It seems a short step to bring both Churches into unity under Rome. Pope Benedict is eager to work with the Chinese government to overcome the "misunderstandings of the past."
Meanwhile the number of Catholics in China continues to grow rapidly. What could be the impact of Chinese Catholics on the world in this century and beyond? A Catholic Church in China unified under the Holy See opens up staggering possibilities.
We join together with all Apostles of Prayer and the Holy Father in praying earnestly for the reunion of the Catholic Church in China.
Jesus said that a divided house cannot stand. To be one, all the far-flung Churches must find unity in their allegiance to the Holy See. What does it mean to you to be in unity with the Pope?
John 17:11 — "And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are."
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
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.