How can I pray in these difficult times? CAFOD’s Genevieve Cox has selected five ways you can pray for those affected by coronavirus as part of your daily life during Harvest.
Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start with prayer and we worry that we won’t know what to say.
I find comfort in how Saint Therese of Lisieux described prayer:
“For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”
First and foremost, scripture tells us that it is the heart that prays. In a moment of quiet, we can hold people affected by coronavirus in our hearts, raising them to God who is full of mercy and compassion.
Here are five simple ways you can include praying for those affected by coronavirus in your daily life.
1. Pray with CAFOD at a Mass streamed live for Harvest
The Mass is the most powerful prayer of the Church. This is because the Mass makes present Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. This is his ultimate prayer for us, by which his death brought forth forgiveness, healing and peace.
At an online Mass, we can unite our prayers with Christ’s on the cross and receive his love in spiritual communion. Please also remember your sisters and brothers overseas who are facing coronavirus. We are one global family and, at Mass, we are one body in Christ, sharing each other’s hopes and fears at this time of coronavirus.
2. Pray with the scriptures
How can we hear God speak? When the readings are read at Church, the priest says, “The Word of the Lord” and we say, “Thanks be the God”. The Bible is God’s word! St Augustine said, “The Holy Scriptures are our letters from home.”
If we want to hear what God has to say to us, we could try reading a passage from the Gospel every day. Which lines stand out to you? What could God be saying to you through that passage?
As we read of Jesus healing the sick, feeding the hungry and listen to his parables on the kingdom of God, we can reflect that we need his presence in our world today.
3. Start a novena
This is a simple and powerful way to commit to prayer. You can pray our Family Fast Day prayer or choose one of these prayers in a time of coronavirus and pray it for 9 days. Share the prayer with your family and friends so they can join your novena.
You might find it helpful to choose a set time each day when you will say the prayer, perhaps before bed or when you put the kettle on in the morning. Keep praying and don’t give up!
4. Pray your way
Prayer is a conversation with God, and we will all have ways that we are most comfortable praying.
Perhaps you like to talk to God while on a walk or in the peace of the garden. If you like to pray the rosary, could you offer a decade for those affected by coronavirus? If you like to pray the angelus, could you remember CAFOD’s local experts?
Your prayers and support are needed more than ever as we work to limit the impact of coronavirus in refugee camps and in vulnerable communities around the world.
5. Pray with the saints
Sunday 11 October is the day that our parishes pray for and offer generous support for CAFOD’s work responding to coronavirus. Happily, 11 October is also the feast day of Saint Pope John XXIII, whose life and preaching has much to teach us.
Born into a humble farming family, Saint Pope John XXIII, or ‘Good Pope John’ as he became known, had a life-long commitment to living simply and for the poor. Best known for convening the Second Vatican Council, he set the tone of the council, calling the Church to “use the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity.”
Saint Pope John XXIII’s life is marked by acts of charity and peacebuilding. He helped save the lives of many Jews fleeing the Holocaust, played a key role in the Cuban missile crisis, and sought to build warm relationships with other Christian denominations.
In one Christmas message, he said he would like to “to linger at the tables of the poor, in workshops, in places of study and of science, close to the beds of the sick and the elderly, in all places where [people] pray and suffer, work for their needs and for others.”
Saints such as Saint Pope John XXIII remind us that prayer transforms our lives, that holiness is possible, and that we can be disciples in the modern world.