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September 9 was important for two related reasons. First, the Church celebrated the memorial of Saint Peter Claver, a Spanish priest devoted to serving African slaves in the New World. And this year, it was designated by the U.S. bishops as a day of prayer to end race-related division and violence. A July 21 press release announced the day of prayer: "[I]n light of recent incidents of violence and racial tension in communities across the United States, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has invited all dioceses across the country to unite in a Day of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities." Even if you're hearing of this a little late, please join in prayerful solidarity with all who prayed for peace that day.
Also in light of current national events, all Catholics are invited to participate in another bishop-led prayer effort: a simple nine-week novena for the local and national elections in November.
Many who have already heeded the bishops' Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty are familiar with fasting and praying every Friday to build a culture of life, love, and peace. From September 16 through November 11, the weekly intentions will focus on interceding for the many needs surrounding the political process. The bishops are asking Catholics to pray one Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for each week's special intention, as well as for our current and future civic leaders.
At times, we may be tempted to think prayer doesn't really matter. But as the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, "prayer is a vital necessity"—most especially for the sake of our own relationship with God, but also for and with each other (2744, original emphasis).
This novena is an ideal way for Catholics to unite in prayer for our
nation, that we may all serve the common good. Pope Francis reminded us to pray
for our leaders:
Let us pray for leaders, that they govern us well. That they bring our homeland, our nations, our world, forward, to achieve peace and the common good. This word of God helps us to better participate in the common life of a people: those who govern, with the service of humility and love, and the governed, with participation, and especially prayer (Pope Francis' morning meditation, September 16, 2013).
To answer our shepherds' invitation to be part of this national prayer effort, sign up for email or text reminders at www.usccb.org/pray, or follow us on our People of Life Facebook page. The intentions and their shareable images are available at www.goo.gl/76hMKA. Oremus! Let us pray!
Caitlin Thomas is a staff assistant for the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For more on the bishops' pro-life work, see www.usccb.org/prolife. To join the bishops' election season novena, visit www.usccb.org/pray.
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