What Is 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.

(St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Manuscrits autobiographiques, C 25r.)

The Pope Video February 2019

A plea for prayer from CAFOD

Due to the desperate situation in Yemen, the international development faith agencies CAFOD, Christian Aid, Tearfund, World Vision and Islamic Relief are inviting supporters to pray for Yemen.

As you may have seen in the news, the human suffering in Yemen is one of the gravest humanitarian crises in the world today. After nearly four years of war, more than 14 million people are facing starvation and 85,000 children may have already died from extreme hunger since 2015.

There is some hope in Yemen, with a ceasefire brokered last month, promising to restore the Hodeida port and allow food and medicine into Yemen. CAFOD has worked through partners in Yemen since 2016, and while we welcomed the UK government’s announcement last week that it will uplift funding to the UN Peace process in Yemen by £2.5 million, we know that the situation is so desperate that more needs to be done.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for the people suffering in Yemen.

A prayer for Yemen

Giver of Life,
Who hears the cries from Yemen;
of mothers choosing between medicine or food,
of parents grieving children lost to starvation,
of those who have given up everything in hunger.
Hear our cries for hope, for change, for peace
In your mercy,
Break political deadlocks,
Soften hardened hearts,
Change closed minds,
Open unhearing ears.
Let people come before power
Let life be holy again
Let your justice and peace
Shape the nation of Yemen
And the lives of all people


Prayers for February

A Prayer for Life
O God, our Creator, all life is in your hands from conception until death.
Help us to cherish our children and to reverence the awesome privilege of our share in creation.
May all people live and die in dignity and love. Bless all those who defend the rights of the unborn, the handicapped and the aged.
Enlighten and be merciful toward those who fail to love, and give them peace. Let freedom be tempered by responsibility, integrity and morality.

A Prayer for Priests
Lord Jesus, You have chosen Your priests from among us and sent them out to proclaim Your word and to act in Your name.
For so great a gift to Your Church, we give You praise and thanksgiving.
We ask You to fill them with the fire of Your love, that their ministry may reveal Your presence in the Church.
Since they are earthen vessels, we pray that Your power shine out through their weakness.
In their afflictions let them never be crushed; in their doubts never despair; in temptation never be destroyed; in persecution never abandoned.
Inspire them through prayer to live each day the mystery of Your dying and rising.
In time of weakness send them Your Spirit, and help them to praise Your heavenly Father and pray for poor sinners.
By the same Holy Spirit, put Your word on their lips and Your love in their hearts, to bring good news to the poor and healing to the broken hearted.
And may the gift of Mary, Your mother, to the disciple whom You loved, be Your gift to every priest.
Grant that she who formed You in her human image, may form them in Your divine image, by the power of Your Spirit, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
O Mary conceived without sin pray for use who have recourse to you.
O Mary conceived without sin pray for use who have recourse to you.
O Mary conceived without sin pray for use who have recourse to you.

A Prayer to Jesus
O my Divine Saviour, transform me into yourself. May my hands be the hands of Jesus.
May my tongue be the tongue of Jesus, Grant that every faculty of my body may serve only to glorify you.
Above all, transform my soul and all its powers, so that my memory, my will and my affections may be the memory, the will and the affections of Jesus.
I pray you to destroy in me all that is not you. Grant that I may live but in you and for you, and that I may truly say with St. Paul: "I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20)

A Prayer for Vocations
O God, Our Father, You have called us in Baptism, to follow Your Son through lives of living service to You and to one another.
Grant us Your assistance as we seek to live out our vocation in life.
We pray especially for those who have answered Your call as priests, brothers, sisters, and deacons.
Keep them faithful in following Your Son, and dedicated in serving You, in their brothers and sisters.
Grant that many more men and women will be open to the challenge of dedicating their lives in the ministry of building Your Kingdom.
Jesus, High priest and Redeemer, we ask You to call men and women to Your service as priests and religious.
May they be inspired by the lives of dedicated priests, brothers and sisters.
Holy Spirit, give to parents the grace of generosity and trust toward You and their Child, so that their sons and daughters may be helped to choose their vocation in life with wisdom and freedom.
Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

The Memorare
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.
To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions,
but in thy mercy hear and answer me.


The monthly Intention, that Pope Francis shares with us all through his personal Prayer Network, reflects the challenges that face humanity and the mission of the Church.

The Holy Father asks, this month, that we pray, with him, “that all may welcome the victims of human trafficking, of enforced prostitution and of violence”.

Our prayer, especially our daily Morning Offering, places us on a pathway, with Jesus, that mobilises us and increases our apostolic readiness according to our individual circumstances.

The Morning Offering, that has been at the heart of this ministry since its very beginning, has been described as “a great way to start our day before we get too busy, too distracted — to offer every waking moment to the Lord,” in the words of Fr.William Blazek SJ, the regional head of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network-Apostleship of Prayer for Canada and the USA.

We can, by praying in this way, make ourselves more available for this essential part of the church’s mission, which is to humanise the world; or, in other words, to resist dehumanisation.

The Latin American theologian Jon Sobrino has written that a core message of Christianity is that “it is possible to be human” – ours is a deeply humanist faith!

All of us (and the Church is all of us) need to recognise dehumanisation, when persons, individuals who are in reality just like us are robbed of their humanity.

Another way of putting this is to use the language of respect for life – all human life. People trafficking is a horrid contemporary example of this disregard for human life, as are enforced prostitution and violence. Enforced prostitution is often a result of human trafficking and is commonly the reason for it; it is imposed by violence, usually against people least able to defend themselves.

The Pope describes trafficking as “an open wound on the body of contemporary society”.

Here in Europe, at least, sadly it is easy to point to so many examples of exploitation and dehumanisation. Our attentiveness and concern for refugees can wane as news-fatigue takes over.

But except for recent instances of certain politicians cynically and opportunistically using the arrivals of some refugees on our southern shores, we fail to realise how much human distress there still is.

Unborn life in the womb is not respected; indeed, there are dehumanising forces in our society actively seeking to extend both abortion and so-called euthanasia.

In many ways, society grows more unequal and the poor blamed for the sickness in society.

But the Intention proposed to us this month has a particular emphasis. It takes for granted that we understand that human trafficking, enforced prostitution and violence are wrong and that we know why these are wrong. That’s assumed, in people of good will.

The Pope is praying “that all may welcome the victims” of these wrongs. So he is not just asking us to deplore these evils nor is he even encouraging us to campaign against these abuses.

We can do that, we already know how to and many good people do so, with great conviction, even passion. This gets even more personal. The challenge is to welcome these brothers and sisters. And if we do so we will have to set aside prejudices, both in ourselves and in our communities and societies, not least the xenophobic and downright racist response we often hear.

We need to be ready to risk confrontation with those who spread hatred and lies and we should refuse to look the other way when desperate refugees risk dangerous journeys to reach our shores and safety.

When a refugee is called a migrant, we should be ready to enquire if such language is intended to suggest that they are suspect, or even criminals; nobody has any warrant for saying that without good evidence.

If we hear judgemental language used about victims of human trafficking or of violence, or even feel tempted to use it ourselves, we should stand ready to oppose it.

Then, we will have begun to welcome these, our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Can we welcome people who do not look like us and who see the world differently from us?

The biblical injunction to “welcome the stranger” runs deep in the veins of our tradition; we shouldn’t forget it or let selfishness block it.

1: learn about the work and mission of the Santa Marta group, an alliance of international police chiefs and bishops from around the world working together with civil society to eradicate human trafficking and modern slavery. Pope Francis and our own Cardinal Nichols are closely involved in this work.
2: Listen for examples of prejudiced language being used of victims of human trafficking, enforced prostitution and violence, who come to our communities or our countries looking for help. Reflect on how to ask people who use such language to think again.
3: In your parish, chaplaincy or other community, propose that the Pope’s Intention be prayed together, at liturgies or other gatherings and look together for opportunities to show that Christian welcome that the Pope asks us to offer.

Prayer is God’s gift to us and, as St Paul noted, it’s God’s Holy Spirit who prays within us, if we’re open to that gift.

Prayer changes us and, in that process of inner change, we become more ready to act; prayer mobilises us.

Most of us, a lot of the time, make the understandable mistake of thinking that we say prayers to change a situation or to change a person. We pray to be changed and then to work for change, for the sake of the Gospel and of humanity.

A suggested Morning Offering prayer, to begin each day:
“Heavenly Father, I begin this day aware of your loving presence.
Guide me along the right path today, always finding ways to cooperate in your mission of love and compassion in the concrete choices I make.
I offer you my thoughts, prayers and all my works for the Pope’s intention this month. Our Father …”


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Prayer for Peace (from the Catholic Church in England and Wales)

At this time of heightened international tension, we ask our priests and people to pray daily for peace in the world and for a greater collaboration between all nations. We recommend that, in the coming months, the following Prayer be used at Mass:
Let us pray, through the intercession of Mary Queen of Peace, for peace on earth and an end to violence and terrorism in our world, for a new spirit of trust and collaboration between nations, for the gift of wisdom for our politicians and leaders, and especially for the resolution of long-standing conflicts in Syria, Gaza and Ukraine, and in other countries around the world.

Prayers for upcoming events