The catechism of the Catholic Church” teaches us that intercessory prayer follows the example of Jesus
who is always interceding for us before Our Heavenly Father. The goal of prayer is not meant to change God’s will, but to change our hearts. God is love and His plans are perfectly made with love. As we grow closer to God and experience that He is trustworthy, we begin to desire what God wants for us and seek to respond to His invitations to serve Him. St. Teresa of Calcutta understood this well and is remembered for saying, “I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us, and we change things.” There are many needs and realities that need intercession in our world. Jesus taught us, “Again, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father” (Mt. 18:19).
Pope Francis, as head of the Catholic Church and our spiritual father, is aware of our pastoral needs and spiritual well-being. Each year he issues a list of monthly intentions for all of us to unite with him in intercessory prayer. These intentions are focused primarily on the sufferings and challenges of people and groups throughout the world. This list is issued through the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, an organization that promotes regular prayer and promotes the Pope’s intentions. In addition, Pope Francis may issue a secondary missionary intention based on unexpected events and natural disasters which is then communicated by the Worldwide Prayer Network.
Let us unite as the People of God and pray with our holy father for the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Here is a list of Pope Francis’s intentions for 2023 as found on popesprayerusa.net:
January: For educators
We pray that educators may be credible witnesses, teaching fraternity rather than
competition and helping the youngest and most vulnerable above all.
February: For parishes
We pray that parishes, placing communion at the center, may increasingly become communities of faith, fraternity and welcome towards those most in need.
March: For victims of abuse
We pray for those who have suffered harm from members of the Church; may they find within the Church herself a concrete response to their pain and suffering.
April: For a culture of peace and non-violence
We pray for the spread of peace and non-violence, by decreasing the use of weapons by States and citizens.
May: For church movements and groups
We pray that Church movements and groups may rediscover their mission of evangelization each day, placing their own charisms at the service of needs in the world.
June: For the abolition of torture
We pray that the international community may commit in a concrete way to ensuring the abolition of torture and guarantee support to victims and their families.
July: For a Eucharistic life
We pray that Catholics may place the celebration of the Eucharist at the heart of their lives, transforming human relationships in a very deep way and opening to the encounter with God and all their brothers and sisters.
August: For World Youth Day
We pray the World Youth Day in Lisbon will help young people to live and witness the Gospel in their own lives.
September: For people living on the margins
We pray for those persons living on the margins of society, in inhumane life conditions; may they not be overlooked by institutions and never considered of lesser importance.
October: For the Synod
We pray for the Church, that she may adopt listening and dialogue as a lifestyle at every level and allow herself to be guided by the Holy Spirit towards the peripheries of the world.
November: For the Pope
We pray for the Holy Father; as he fulfills his mission, may he continue to accompany the flock entrusted to him, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
December: For persons with disabilities
We pray that people living with disabilities may be at the center of attention in society, and that institutions may offer inclusive programs which value their active participation.
Joan Patten is a consecrated member of the Secular Institute of the Apostolic Oblates. She is currently the Delegate for Consecrated Life and the local director of the Pro Sanctity Spirituality Center in Fullerton, CA. Pro Sanctity is an international Catholic lay movement founded by Servant of God, Guglielmo Giaquinta in 1947. The mission of Pro Sanctity is to promote the universal call to holiness and brotherhood. Find out more at caprosanctity.org