The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, or the Apostolate of Prayer, looks at the challenges facing humanity and assists the mission of the Church.
The network prays and works to meet the challenges of the world identified by the Pope in his monthly intentions, while walking a spiritual path known as the “Way of the Heart.”
To mark its 175th anniversary, the Pope presided over an event in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall on Friday, thanking all those present for their commitment to prayer.
He also heard testimonies from a number of people from around the world who are working in prayer ministry.
Prayer transforms lives
One of those was Bettina Raed a wife and mother from Mendoza in Argentina.
She is the Director of the Worldwide Prayer Network for Argentina and Uruguay.
Speaking about the “Way of the Heart” initiative, Bettina told Pope Francis that it was a “true school of the Heart that helps us to put our own heart in harmony with that of Jesus.”
She also spoke about how, in Argentina and Uruguay, the project is strongly promoted and supported in communities, in colleges, and in parishes with an emphasis placed on digital platforms.
Recalling Bettina’s words, the Pope commented that it was good, “on this day of the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to remember the foundation of our mission”, as she did.
“It is a mission of compassion for the world”, he said, “a prayerful itinerary that transforms people's lives”.
Prayer on digital platforms
Jesuit Father Matthew Hsu, is the director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network in Taiwan. He told the Pope that he was happy to be at this event and talk about the success of the Click to Pray app and website in Chinese, in Taiwan. He described that through this app, people open their hearts to God and dedicate their lives to Jesus Christ.
To pray on the Internet, he remarked, makes people feel “they are no longer alone on the road to faith.”
For young people in particular, he said, this support system and their own faith helps them “to live the values of the Gospel and to be witnesses in the world of God's love and compassion.”
After hearing Fr Matthew’s testimony, the Pope said, prayer “always arouses feelings of brotherhood, breaks down barriers, crosses borders, creates invisible but real and effective bridges, opens horizons of hope.”
Being brotherly, Pope Francis, pointed out during his remarks, means speaking well of the other. Gossiping and speaking badly of another, he said, did not come from Jesus and was a bad thing.
Another testimony came from Sister Selam from Ethiopia who works with young people in the Eucharistic Youth Movement.
Reflecting on her testimony, Pope Francis stressed the importance of helping “new generations to grow in friendship with Jesus through the intimate encounter with Him in prayer, in listening to His Word, and approaching the Eucharist as a gift of love to one's neighbour.”
In off the cuff remarks, the Pope underlined how important it was to teach children to pray. “It pains me”, he said, “when I see children who don’t even know how to make the Sign of the Cross”. “Teach them because they go directly to the heart of Jesus.”
The Pontiff also noted that while using digital technology to proclaim God's mercy and goodness was necessary, he urged people to pay attention, especially with regard to the Internet. “We must avoid becoming hostages of a net that takes us in, instead of "fishing for fish", that is, attracting souls to bring to the Lord.”
Before a moment of silent prayer, and remembering the prayer intentions for the month of July, the Pope expressed his thanks for the “precious activity” of the Worldwide Prayer Network.
He concluded by saying, “You help people to have a spiritual gaze, a gaze of faith, on the reality that surrounds them, to recognize what God Himself works in them; it is a gaze of hope.”