The Year of Prayer

In January, Pope Francis officially opened the Year of Prayer, calling the faithful to be dedicated in a particular way to prayer. Pope Francis explained, “This is not a Year marked with particular initiatives; rather, it’s a privileged time in which to rediscover the value of prayer, the need for daily prayer in the Christian life; a time to discover how to pray, and above all how to educate the people of today in prayer, in this age of digital culture, so that prayer can be effective and fruitful. We cannot deny the fact that our time manifests a profound need for spirituality.”

If you are unsure how to approach prayer, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part Four, is all about Christian Prayer. It is an easy read with many insights on the practice of prayer, not just in theory but how to integrate it into your daily life. It also includes an in-depth look at the Our Father, the very prayer Jesus teaches when the Apostles ask Him how they are to pray. Here is a brief explanation of the five expressions (or forms) of prayer outlined in the Catechism (CCC 2623-2649)

  • Blessing & Adoration  — “The prayer of blessing is man’s response to God’s gifts: because God blesses, the human heart can in return bless the One who is the source of every blessing.” Prayers of adoration, like those seen in the Scriptures with the visit of the Shepherds and Wisemen to the infant Jesus, teach us to worship. Worship, especially time spent before the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration, is a fitting response to believing in Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
  • Petition  — “When we share in God’s saving love, we understand that every need can become the object of petition. Christ, who assumed all things in order to redeem all things, is glorified by what we ask the Father in his name.”  The main movement of this petition is growing closer to God; it includes seeking His forgiveness and knowing everything comes from His loving hands.
  • Intercession  — “Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men, especially sinners.” Here is where a person, more than any other prayer, puts aside their desires and places their trust in the goodness of the Lord. Bring all your concerns and hopes for your family, friends, and our world to Him, always remembering to pray for His will to be done as it is always perfect and for our greatest good.
  • Thanksgiving — “The letters of St. Paul often begin and end with thanksgiving, and the Lord Jesus is always present in it: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”; “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” Our first response to God should always be one of gratitude. The Church’s highest form of prayer is the celebration of the Eucharist — whose very name means Thanksgiving.
  • Praise — “Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for his own sake and gives him glory, quite beyond what he does, but simply because HE IS.” Unsure how to praise God in prayer? King David did so in song through the writing of the Psalms; read (or sing) these to become more familiar with this type of prayer.

The most important aspect of prayer to remember is there is no wrong way to pray. As a parent delights in every small act of love from their child, so does our Heavenly Father delight every time His children reach out to Him through prayer.

Honoring Catholic Charities Volunteers

Last Friday, our Catholic Charities here in the Diocese hosted a luncheon to recognize and thank the many volunteers who assist in its varied programs. In preparing for the luncheon, leaders at Catholic Charities did some tallying and came up with some impressive numbers: over the past year, 267 persons volunteered in some capacity for Catholic Charities, serving 9,633 hours and reaching 51,131 persons! Catholic Charities calculated that the dollar value for this faithful work of volunteers would amount to $377,518. Wow. You can easily get a sense of the critical role volunteers play in our Catholic Charities outreach in places like food pantries and shelters, as well as in ministries like bereavement support, mental health ministry, and more.

While I couldn’t attend the luncheon because of other commitments, I recorded a video message for the volunteers that was shown during the program. I could not let this opportunity pass without expressing my gratitude for their generous sharing of their time, gifts, and talents.

I referenced in my video a recent article I read in America magazine entitled, “Where have the volunteers gone,” focusing on a general decline in volunteers across the board. It was discouraging to read. What I hear from those who volunteer is the sense of joy and fulfillment it brings. I bet our Catholic Charities volunteers would attest to this. It seems once you get involved in volunteering or charitable work, your life is never the same. You realize you are touching the lives of others and making a true difference. This enriches not only the lives of those helped but also the lives of the volunteers as well. Our parishes, schools, Catholic Charities, and other ministries are blessed by the generosity of many volunteers, and both they and the Diocese are better for it.

Walk for Life

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Catholic Appeal

Today begins the 83rd Annual Catholic Appeal, with this year’s theme, “Renew the Face of the Earth.” Our theme reminds us that our acts of charity and love renew those around us. With each outstretched helping hand, we create a small ripple effect of care. This kindness spreads and allows us to play a part in renewing the face of the entire earth — starting here in our Diocese of Fall River. I dedicated last week’s blog to sharing my thoughts on the Appeal; I invite you to read those here

As we celebrate our 120th anniversary as a diocese, I can think of no better way to mark this historic milestone than by joining together in support of the Catholic Appeal. Should your circumstances allow, please consider making a contribution of any size to help us carry out our mission. When what we believe in our hearts extends to what we do in our everyday lives, we can — and will — make a positive impact on the lives of those in need throughout our diocese.

May the Good Lord send out His Spirit to renew our families, our parishes, and our Diocese.

Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha

Reverendísimo Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., D.D.
Reverendísimo Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., D.D.
The Bishop of Fall River