On Thursday, the feast of Corpus Christi, Pope Francis led an hour of prayer before the Eucharist at St. Peter's in Rome.
The pope invited dioceses and parishes around the world to join him in this prayer. In my parish we offered an hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament from 7:00-8:00 p.m.
About 50 people gathered for this on Sunday night here at Holy Family. After a brief introduction and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and between extended periods of silent prayer, we listened to three readings from scripture ( 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; I Corinthians 5:6-8; andRevelation 5:11-24), interspersed with three songs (Psalm 23; Where Charity and Love Prevail; and Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence). After a brief homily and a beautiful flute piece (Meditation from Thaisby Massenet) we ended with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
This hour of prayer was actually about an hour and ten minutes long and this because the presider (yours truly) let the periods of silence run a little longer than he had planned. And yet the feedback I've received has pointed to the silent prayer times as one of the greatest features of the evening. There's a grace in praying in silence in the company of others that brings its own blessing.
Pope Francis invited us to pray for two particular intentions in this shared hour of prayer and I'm sure he would appreciate our keeping these in prayer long after the Corpus Christi event has passed us by:
1) “For the Church spread throughout the world and united today in the adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist as a sign of unity. May the Lord make her ever more obedient to hearing his Word in order to stand before the world ‘ever more beautiful, without stain or blemish, but holy and blameless.’ That through her faithful announcement, the Word that saves may still resonate as the bearer of mercy and may increase love to give full meaning to pain and suffering, giving back joy and serenity.”
2) “For those around the world who still suffer slavery and who are victims of war, human trafficking, drug running, and slave labor. For the children and women who are suffering from every type of violence. May their silent scream for help be heard by a vigilant Church so that, gazing upon the crucified Christ, she may not forget the many brothers and sisters who are left at the mercy of violence. Also, for all those who find themselves in economically precarious situations, above all for the unemployed, the elderly, migrants, the homeless, prisoners, and those who experience marginalization. That the Church’s prayer and its active nearness give them comfort and assistance in hope and strength and courage in defending human dignity.”
Much to ponder, much to consider, much to pray for..