We pray for the Holy Father; as he fulfills his mission, may he continue to accompany the flock entrusted to him, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
I’m grateful that I’ve had a personal connection with our last three popes: Pope St John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis.
I was born in 1977, the year ‘JP2’ was elected as pope. When I was a teenager, I remember seeing him preaching on TV; I read his writings when I was in college. I saw him and prayed with him in Paris in 1997 when he presided at World Youth Day. He sang with young people from around the world, while speaking with them in a dozen languages!
When I was in theology studies preparing for priesthood, Benedict XVI was pope. In my classes, I studied his writings on the Eucharist and the life of Jesus. I recognized the depth of his intellect and his deep love for Christ and the Church. I saw him in 2011, shortly after my ordination. It was at World Youth Day in Spain. I prayed with him at Mass– this time I was a fellow priest.
Now, as national director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, I’m honored to serve Pope Francis. I am a Jesuit and so is he– our first Jesuit pope! My heart is stirred by his passion and love for the ‘least’ among us.
Francis uses the simple phrase, “for others,” a total of 14 times in his encyclical, Fratelli Tutti. It is a rallying cry; Jesus is here ‘for’ us, and we must likewise live ‘for others.’ He writes, “Our love for others, for who they are, moves us to seek the best for their lives.” Later, he continues, “education and upbringing, concern for others, a well-integrated view of life and spiritual growth: all these are essential” [94, 167].
“Men for others” is the motto of many all-boys Jesuit high schools; I attended one and taught at two others. When he uses the simple phrase, “for others,” he reminds of my call as a Jesuit and as a follower of Jesus.
The pope is the chief shepherd of the Church on earth, walking in the shoes of St Peter. He is a living symbol of the unity of our global Church. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI relied on our prayers. This month, let’s pray for Pope Francis and with him. !Viva El Papa! ‘[long live the pope!]
Fr. Joseph Laramie, SJ
Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (United States)