By Caitlin Thomas
September 9, 2016
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
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
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
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:
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!
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.