Each month, Pope Francis has a specific prayer request that he asks the faithful to spend extra time praying for during that month. The intentions are based on ‘challenges facing humanity’, and are often quite timely with current events and problems going on in the world.
“The intention in January is that religious minorities be the focus of our prayer. That Christians and other religious minorities in Asian countries may be able to practice their faith in full freedom,” says Fr. William Blazek, National Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. This prayer intention comes just weeks after the Holy Father concluded his apostolic visit to the Asian nations of Myanmar and Bangladesh.
“Religious freedom is an issue across the globe at different levels, and the Holy Father has singled out a huge continent, of course: Asia,” says Fr. Blazek. “So a huge number of cultures, a huge number of countries, but each with unique challenges, perhaps, for religious minorities. And we pray with our Christian brothers and sisters that they can practice their faiths.”
The witness of the persecuted Church is inspiring. “It’s so humbling to meet people who are practicing their faith under difficult or even dangerous circumstances and making real sacrifices. I think sometimes, here at home in the United States or other western countries, we can just take this for granted. Our religious liberty at least in principle is respected, if at times we feel it’s being infringed in certain particular respects.”
O God of all the nations, the One God who is and was and always will be, in your providence you willed that your Church be united to the suffering of your Son. Look with mercy on your servants who are persecuted for their faith in you. Grant them perseverance and courage to be worthy imitators of Christ. Bring your wisdom upon leaders of nations to work for peace among all peoples. May your Spirit open conversion for those who contradict your will, that we may live in harmony. Give us the grace to be united in truth and freedom, and to always seek your will in our lives. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us.
Prayer composed by Archbishop William E. Lori, Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus