Spring semester: 'School of Prayer' now in session for Holy Year finals

Resources are becoming available for Catholics wanting to prepare for the Holy Year 2025, especially those eager to brush up their prayer lives. On May 9, the feast of the Ascension of the Lord, Pope Francis will officially proclaim the Jubilee of 2025 with the public reading and delivery of the "Bull of Indiction" in St. Peter's Basilica.

Spring semester: 'School of Prayer' now in session for Holy Year finals

Pope Francis holds his rosary as he prays for peace in St. Peter's Basilica with members of the assembly of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican Oct. 27, 2023. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Every important journey should be preceded by adequate preparation, and the run-up to the Holy Year 2025 is no exception.

Pope Francis asked Catholics to get ready for the jubilee journey with a Year of Prayer and now, a few months after the year was officially announced, a kind of prayer prep-school is in session.

Every jubilee asks pilgrims to come to Rome ready, not just with lodging and logistics, but, most of all, with the right spiritual disposition, which is a heart ready to welcome the gifts of grace and forgiveness the jubilee offers.

"I ask you to intensify your prayer to prepare us to live well this event of grace and to experience the strength of God's hope," the pope said when he formally announced the Year of Prayer at his Jan. 21 Angelus. The year is "dedicated to rediscovering the great value and absolute need for prayer in personal life, in the life of the church and in the world."

"Teach Us to Pray" is a resource available online in English and other languages from the Dicastery for Evangelization's section for new evangelization, which is coordinating the Holy Year.

The 75-page booklet, it said, "is intended to be used by the faithful during this time of preparation for the opening of the Holy Door."

"Let us immerse ourselves through prayer in an ongoing dialogue with the Creator, discovering the joy of silence, the peace of abandonment and the power of intercession in the communion of saints," it said.

To help the faithful "renew the spirit of prayer in all those situations in which we are called to live in daily life," it said, there are different sections focused on different facets of life.

"Each part -- from the meaning of personal prayer to its practice in community life -- offers reflections, guidance and advice for living more fully in dialogue with the Lord present in our relationship with others and in every moment of our day," it said. There are also sections dedicated to young people, sanctuaries and spiritual retreats.

The booklet is just one of the materials the dicastery is sharing online at evangelizatio.va and on the Holy Year website, iubilaeum2025.va.

The "Notes on Prayer" series, produced by the dicastery, is on sale in Italian, but as of April 17 there was no date for when the eight booklets will be ready in English. The bishops of Spain have translated the first two volumes and made them available with many other materials at haciaeljubileo.com.

The texts carry titles such as "Praying today. A challenge," "The Parables of Prayer," "Praying with Saints and Sinners," "Mary's prayer," and "The Prayer Jesus Taught Us: The 'Our Father.'"

The plan is to make them available to the world's bishops' conferences and dioceses.

In the meantime, there is no shortage of other study material.

There are 38 talks dedicated to prayer Pope Francis gave during his Wednesday general audiences between May 2020 and June 2021. While they are not organized in a cohesive format, readers can scroll through the Vatican's archive at vatican.va to find them in nine languages.

The dicastery is also sharing links to resources and initiatives organized by others and open to everyone.

For example, the Canadian bishops' conference is offering a series of eight free-access webinars on prayer in English and French.

Titled, "A Great Symphony of Prayer," the webinars run in April and October to "delve deeper into the themes highlighted in the 'Notes on Prayer' series," it said. "The meetings will be recorded and made available, with a commentary, on the website of the Canadian Episcopal Conference www.cccb.ca at the end of the series."

Pope Francis leads "school of prayer" in Rome
Pope Francis recites a special prayer of thanksgiving with about 200 children at St. John Vianney parish on the far eastern edge of Rome, where he went April 11, 2024, to inaugurate his "School of Prayer" initiative in preparation for the Holy Year 2025. He spoke to the children about prayers of thanksgiving and answered their questions. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The pope inaugurated his own "School of Prayer" in April when he met with about 200 children attending their catechism class in a Rome parish. The "school" is a series of encounters where the pope will meet with different groups of people to pray together and discuss the various forms of prayer such as thanksgiving, intercession, contemplative prayer, consolation, adoration and supplication.

The pope's lesson with the children preparing for their first Communion was on the theme of prayers of thanksgiving. He said, "It is important to say thank you for everything."

Even when there are difficulties and conflicts in the world, Pope Francis told them there is always something to thank God for, encouraging them to think before they go to sleep, "'What can I thank the Lord for?' And give thanks."

He gave them a special prayer of thanks composed for the occasion; the prayer thanked God for the gift of life, the gift of parents, the gift of creation, the gift of Jesus, who is "our brother and savior, friend of the small and the poor" and the gift of his love.

As usual, the pope hopes his initiatives inspire others.

In the preface to the first book in the "Notes on Prayer" series, the pope wrote, "I am certain that bishops, priests, deacons and catechists will find in this year appropriate ways to place prayer at the heart of the proclamation of hope that the 2025 Jubilee will make resound in this troubled time."

Prayer is not a "magic wand," the pope has said, but it is through prayer that "a new incarnation of the Word takes place."

"We are the 'tabernacles' where the words of God seek to be welcomed and preserved, so that they may visit the world," he said Jan. 27, 2021, during an audience talk on prayer.

"The Word inspires good intentions and sustains action; it gives us strength and serenity, and even when it challenges us, it gives us peace," he said.



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