Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Holy Father's Intentions for the Month of March 2012


General: That the whole world may recognize the contribution of women to the development of society.
Although we differ from one another, men and women are equal in dignity before God. Sadly, throughout history this truth has not been recognized. Many societies have denied the truth that men and women are both created in the image and likeness of God. The lie that women are inferior to men has led to discrimination and even, in some cases, abuse. Throughout history in many places throughout the world, women have often been treated as possessions or objects.

Discrimination against women continues today. Women justly seek equal rights. Sometimes, however, in their struggle for these rights, women are tempted to become like men. The new lie is this: unless women do everything men do—and in the same way as men do—they are not equal to men. That notion denies the unique and complementary contribution women make to the human race. It denies what Blessed John Paul II called "the feminine genius."

A 2004 Vatican Letter on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World spoke of this "feminine genius" in terms of women's "capacity for the other." That capacity manifests itself in the way women mature "quickly" with "a sense of the seriousness of life and of its responsibilities," and an understanding of "the value of every human life."

Of course both men and women need those values, but women lead the way. The letter goes on to say, "women should have access to positions of responsibility which allow them to inspire the policies of nations and to promote innovative solutions to economic and social problems."

Pray that the world may better recognize women's unique and essential contribution to the development of a just society.

Reflection:
What uniquely feminine characteristics contribute to making a better world?

Reading:
Genesis 1:27-31 Male and female God created them.

Links
Pope Benedict XVI's Message to the March 2009 Conference on the theme "Life, Family, and Development: The Role of Women in the Promotion of Human Rights"
Pope Benedict XVI's Address to the February 2008 Conference on the theme "Woman and Man, the 'Humanum' in its Entirety"
2004 Letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith "On the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World"

Missionary: That the Holy Spirit may grant perseverance to those who suffer discrimination, persecution, or death for the name of Christ, particularly in Asia. (See also apostleshipofprayer)
In last year’s message for the annual World Day of Peace, Pope Benedict pointed out that "Christians are the religious group which suffers most from persecution."

Every year the U.S. State Department examines the world with regard to the human right to religious freedom. In 2010, 8 of 198 nations were designated as "Countries of Particular Concern." Six of those are in Asia, including Burma, China, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Uzbekistan.

Fr. Gabriel Sindhunata, S.J., the Apostleship of Prayer Director for Indonesia, reports that between 2004-10, 2,442 churches in his country were destroyed or shut down. He attributed the persecution to the "radicalism and fundamentalism of other religions."

Countries often see Christian evangelization as a threat to their traditional religions, and many who bring Christ to them are persecuted. As we prepare through our Lenten prayer and fasting for the celebration of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus, let us keep these suffering members of the Body of Christ in our hearts.

Pope Benedict has asked us to pray that the Holy Spirit may grant that those who suffer persecution may have the strength to persevere in the faith. The Holy Spirit has always given to Christians the courage to witness to their faith despite persecution.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of those who suffer persecution. May they know your love and the love of their brothers and sisters who are praying for them.

Reflection:
How is it true, as a Church Father wrote, that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the faith"?

Reading:
Revelation 2:10-11 Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Links
Pope Benedict XVI's 2011 Message for the World Day of Peace: "Religious Freedom, the Path to Peace"
Aid to the Church in Need
The Voice of the Martyrs
U.S. State Department's 2010 Report on International Religious Freedom
Asia Newsfrom the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Mission

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