Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day of Prayer for the Church in China

Today, May 24 is the Feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians. Under this title, the most Blessed Virgin is venerated at the shrine of Sheshan near Shanghai, China. A place of great devotion, thousands of Chinese pilgrims will make their way to this, one of the most important shrines in China dedicated to Our Lady. Because of this, Pope Benedict XVI designated May 24th as a day of prayer for the Church in China in a letter to Chinese Catholics:

"On that same day, the Catholics of the whole world – in particular those who are of Chinese origin – will demonstrate their fraternal solidarity and solicitude for you, asking the Lord of history for the gift of perseverance in witness, in the certainty that your sufferings past and present for the Holy Name of Jesus and your intrepid loyalty to his Vicar on earth will be rewarded, even if at times everything can seem a failure."
Let us join our brothers and sisters throughout the world on this day of prayer for Chinese Catholics by praying this prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan composed by Pope Benedict:

Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother,
venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title "Help of Christians",
the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection.
We come before you today to implore your protection.
Look upon the People of God and, with a mother’s care,
guide them along the paths of truth and love,
so that they may always be a leaven of harmonious coexistence
among all citizens.

When you obediently said "yes" in the house of Nazareth,
you allowed God’s eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb
and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption.
You willingly and generously cooperated in that work,
allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul,
until the supreme hour of the Cross,
when you kept watch on Calvary, standing beside your Son,
who died that we might live.

From that moment, you became, in a new way,
the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith
and choose to follow in his footsteps by taking up his Cross.
Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday
you journeyed with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter.
Grant that your children may discern at all times,
even those that are darkest,
the signs of God’s loving presence.

Our Lady of Sheshan,
sustain all those in China, who, amid their daily trials,
continue to believe, to hope, to love.
May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world,
and of the world to Jesus.
In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high,
offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.
Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love,
ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.
Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!
Our Lady of Sheshan, Help of Christians, pray for us!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Prayer Request

Please keep Senator Ted Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts in your prayers. He has just been diagnosed with brain cancer. He may have anywhere from a few months to a few years to live. He is in great need of our Mother of Perpetual Help.

I know that many Catholics have difficulty with Senator Kennedy because some of his political positions are contrary to Church teaching. Do consider that he is elected to represent a constituency. This puts him between the proverbial rock and hard place. As a politician he must accurately work for the concerns of those whom he represents. As a Catholic he must accept the teaching of the Church. In a perfect world these two facets would not be in opposition. We do not live in a perfect world. And none of us are privy to the struggles of conscience he or any politician must endure in such a situation. So I ask that you not comment on his political or moral positions. Should that happen I will close the comment boxes. This is strictly a devotional blog.

If people offer prayerful support either through the the comment box or the guest book I will transcribe them and forward them to the senator.

Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.