My Top Ten Prayers for the Year of Faith
We all have both goals and worries, and while our anxiety is certainly worthless, our prayers are not. In most cases, our perspectives are dominated by what is closest to ourselves. Our own health and financial well-being, for example, generally take precedence over that of our friends. Family concerns come before fears for the larger community in which we live. The success of our own work has a higher priority than broader professional and economic issues.
Of course there can be no merit in venting personal or familial concerns here. So, at a more public level, the following are the top ten prayers I’d like to see answered affirmatively (God willing) during the Year of Faith which stretches from October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013:
10. The last two popes have been brilliant teachers, John Paul II a philosopher and Benedict XVI a theologian. Pope Benedict is now 85 years old. Should God call him to his reward during this Year of Faith, may he be succeeded by a young and vigorous pope who is a born administrator with a very clear sense of direction.
9. The Society of St. Pius X has now been separated from Rome for nearly half a century, and now has a rare opportunity to be fully incorporated back into the Church by accepting the Magisterium and without denying the many abuses that have plagued modern Catholic life. May the Society accept the Pope’s overtures to restore full communion in this Year of Faith.
8. In terms of those who are commonly referred to as “ecclesiastical persons”, the chief scandals of Modernism and secularism—and so the chief centers of resistance to the authentic renewal called for by the Second Vatican Council—are found within specific groups of wayward religious, some male and even more female. I pray that in the absence of conversion, this scandal may be reduced through the suppression of one or more failed religious communities in the coming year, which would be a bracing tonic for all the others.
7. The Year of Faith would be a wonderful time to seek the establishment in American politics of a party, viable over time, which emphasizes the culture of life, fiscal responsibility, the importance of intermediate institutions, and authentic solidarity—demonstrating how communities can work together to solve problems without encouraging that debilitating habit of dependence on government which perpetuates failure and mortgages votes.
6. At least in America, the pro-life movement is generally strategically inept. For example, this year we are locked in our usual binary failure: If Obama wins the election, it is a victory for the culture of death and things will get immediately worse. But if Romney wins the election, this will be decisive proof that the Republican Party does not need a significant commitment to the culture of life to win, and things will still continue to get worse in the long run. I pray that pro-lifers will be willing to take a step back during the Year of Faith, even if it means sacrificing some short-term potential gains, to see if they can find a strategy which will actually lead to substantial change. And I pray that, in God’s Providence, such a strategy really is possible.
5. Western culture is generally locked within a self-referential confusion between desires and rights, as if the two are the same thing. This is based on the combination of extreme individualism with the idea that people have a “right” to pursue their own happiness, along with a general distrust of claims concerning objective moral reality. I pray that during the Year of Faith there will also be a resurgence of recognition of the natural law, so that people can see the need to examine rationally their inclinations and behaviors in light of it.
4. Among the laity, one of the greatest scandals impeding authentic Catholic renewal is “Catholic” politicians who advocate changes to the public order which violate the Church’s moral teaching (derived from both Revelation and the natural law). The Year of Faith provides a marvelous opportunity for bishops to present such politicians with a clear choice between this world and the next, and to excommunicate them if they persist in public scandal. May it be so in the coming year.
3. Among priests, grave scandal—by which I mean leading others into sin—is caused by those who preach or teach contrary to the Magisterium in matters of faith and morals. It is extraordinarily important that Church renewal among the clergy go deeper than merely abolishing natural abuses (such as sex abuse). The rights of the faithful to authentic Catholic worship and teaching must be upheld. During the Year of Faith, may discipline and even removal from office be swift for priests who deny these rights.
2. Thorough renewal and deep spiritual growth require the consonance of body and soul. Fasting and abstinence, community celebration of holy days, appropriate dress, and participation in corporal and spiritual works of mercy ought to be Catholic hallmarks. The bishops of England and Wales have taken a small step in this direction by restoring Friday abstinence. I pray that during the Year of Faith episcopal conferences will establish more visible signs of the practice of the Catholic faith.
1. At the top of my public prayer list goes the reform of Catholic higher education. Throughout the West, the failure of Catholic education in the 20th century led to the rise of Modernism. The intellectual formation of multiple generations of bishops, priests, sisters and deacons rendered them incapable of resisting secularization because their perceptions of theology and human culture had already been severely distorted by higher study. There were also many lay people formed in such colleges and universities, including countless catechists and teachers. (The Jesuits have played an immensely sad role here; see prayer 8.) May God help us in the authentic renewal of Catholic higher education, which is perhaps the greatest specific Catholic challenge of our time.
All this is certainly enough to get on with! In addition, I pray with all my heart that CatholicCulture.org may play its own role in the ongoing Catholic renewal for many years to come—which of course implies effectiveness and, therefore, widespread support. This I unreservedly leave in God’s hands.
I’d also love to hear the prayers that our readers would like to see added to the list. In the meantime, let me close with the words of St. John in the second reading for today’s Mass for the Feast of All Saints, words which are extraordinarily applicable to the problems of the present age:
Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure. (1 Jn 3:1-3)
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Posted by: brenda22890 -
Nov. 09, 2016 2:51 PM ET USA
"Only Christ saves". I have been excoriated and accused of thinking myself "lofty" in more than one comments section for saying the same. That aside, now that Donald Trump is our President Elect, I am at least holding out hope for Supreme Court appointments less horrible than they might have been. I have a young adult son, and remain deeply concerned for the "culture" he will undoubtedly have to grapple with.
Posted by: spledant7672 -
Nov. 08, 2016 10:28 PM ET USA
Wow. Wow. Wow. Best thing I've read on this, period. Thank you.
Posted by: pja -
Nov. 08, 2016 10:22 PM ET USA
Thank you for injecting some needed perspective into this season of madness and reminding your readers of what really counts.
Posted by: jplaunder1846 -
Nov. 08, 2016 7:43 PM ET USA
I believe you are spot on with your analysis. As a non-US person the spectacle of the US Presidential election has been debilitating. Mind you the state of politics in the West generally is demoralizing to say the least. My judgement is that we are heading for a massive crisis. The period immediately following WW2 was mostly a sober moral period for the reason mankind had just been through a great cataclysm -- then in the 60s we recommenced the decline
Posted by: wsw33410 -
Nov. 02, 2012 9:09 PM ET USA
I would add as #1 prayer the reform of CATHOLIC EDUCATION at a primary level. At the Napa Institute's 2nd Annual Conference: "Catholics in the Next America" Frank Hanna gave an inspiring and convincing talk on “Catholic Education in the Next America: Where Do We Go From Here?" It should be a number 1 priority of every bishop and every diocese before any other program is funded. He proposed that CCD does not serve the purpose – but there is a great need of education for all, especially the adults. He sees an opportunity for “Sacramental Education” for adults / parents. His all thesis were well spelled out – is there a willingness of the bishops?
Posted by: koinonia -
Nov. 02, 2012 6:49 PM ET USA
Nice, but one might take issue with #1. Our Lord did not introduce the most erudite or intellectual individual to his followers; rather, he introduced a child and advised them that unless we "become like little children you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." The priority is souls, and the restoration of order is dependent upon the creed and a fundamentally sound foundation. #2 and #3 are hands-down the greatest priorities. Reform of Catholic higher education will follow. No worries.
Posted by: brenda22890 -
Nov. 02, 2012 12:28 PM ET USA