Prayers for the Week
Feast of the Baptism of our Lord
We reflect today on Jesus being baptised by John in the river Jordan, remembering God’s word: “This is my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” Matthew 3:17.
Anthony of Egypt, Abbot (251 – 356)
Patron of Butchers, Skin Diseases
Anthony sold his inheritance and gave it all to the poor. He gave the Church and the world the witness of a life in solitude, personal self-sacrifice, and prayer. At the same time many people were drawn to him for spiritual healing and guidance. Anthony established a monastery and fearlessly exposed himself to danger while he helped those in prison during the Roman persecution.
Dear Jesus, there is terrible poverty in the world. Yet you created a world rich enough to feed everyone. May I always be generous of heart and feed those who are hungry. May I always be willing to share what I have to help others live.
Sebastian, Martyr (257-286)
Patron of Athletes, Soldiers
Sebastian was a Roman martyr. Legend says that Sebastian entered the Roman army only because in that position he could assist the martyrs without arousing suspicion. He was found out and delivered to archers to be shot to death. Sebastian recovered but refused to flee. He later confronted the emperor, denouncing him for his cruelty to Christians. This time the sentence of death was carried out. Sebastian was beaten to death with clubs.
Dear God, what great perseverance Sebastian had. My prayer today is that when times are tough and nothing seems to be going my way, I will never give up. Help me to endure the difficult times and stand up for what I believe to be right.
Agnes, Virgin and Martyr (d. 304)
Patron of Girls, Children of Mary
Agnes was martyred at the age of thirteen in the third century. A man wanted to marry her, but she would not. He reported her as a Christian. She was arrested and forced to go to a house of prostitution. When that failed, Agnes was then executed in Rome. Before her death she forgave the man who betrayed her. The daughter of Constantine built a basilica in her name.
Dear God, give us the kindness to forgive others who wrong us. May we try to act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with you always.
Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor (1567-1622)
Patron of Journalists, Editors, Writers, the Deaf
Francis studied to be a lawyer, but instead decided to become a priest. He set out to convert Calvinists by preaching and writing and distributing pamphlets explaining the true Catholic doctrine. As bishop, he continued to preach, hear confession and catechise children. His struggle to control his anger and be gentle was a great asset in winning souls. He wrote popular books, articles, and pamphlets and because of this he has been named patron of the Catholic press.
Dear God, it is gentleness that will have a great effect on stress. Teach me to be gentle. I pray for gentleness in my words and in my actions. I pray that my gentleness will bring comfort and healing to others.
Feast of the Conversion of Paul, the Apostle
For years he arrested, persecuted, imprisoned, and executed Christians. Knocked off his horse by a blinding light, Paul faced Jesus and was converted. From this point on Paul dedicated his life to Christ and established churches throughout the known world. Paul’s message is that you are saved entirely by God, not by anything you can do.
Dear Jesus, you come to all of us in different ways. You offer us like Paul an opportunity to convert. I pray that my heart is always open to you and each experience with you is a conversion, making me a better person.
Titus, Bishop (d. approx. 94)
Titus is seen as a peacemaker, administrator, and a great friend and disciple of St Paul. We discover from Paul’s letters what a source of strength he was for Paul. He helped Paul through difficult times and showed a unique ability to smooth out challenging situations.
Dear Lord, we see a lot of violence and war in the world we live in. We pray to be peacemakers, to bring people together in a spirit of tolerance and understanding. We pray for a world of harmony and unity.
Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor (1225-1274)
Patron of Catholic Schools, Students, Colleges, Philosophers and Theologians
Thomas Aquinas is one of the greatest teachers of the medieval Catholic Church, and his writings are among the Church’s treasures. The unity, harmony and continuity of faith and reason, of revealed and natural human knowledge, pervades his writings. The Summa Theological, his last and unfortunately, incomplete work, deals with the whole of Catholic theology.
O God of knowledge, Thomas Aquinas was born with a brilliant mind. He uses his gift to create a better world through his writings. I pray that I will use my intelligence to write and speak in a way that gives people hope and builds up your kingdom on earth.
John Bosco, Priest (1815-1888)
Patron of Editors and Young People
Educator John Bosco advocated frequent celebration of the sacrament of penance and the Eucharist. He combined catechetical training and fatherly guidance, seeking to unite spiritual life with one’s work, study, and play. After serving as a chaplain in a hospice for working girls. John opened the Oratory of St Francis de Sales, for boys. He taught them various trades, including the publication of religious and catechetical pamphlets. He founded the Salesians, whose efforts concentrated on education and missionary work. Later he began a group of Salesian Sisters to assist girls.
Lord you call me to serve. Keep my ears and heart open to your calling. You may be inviting me to be a priest, or sister or brother, married or single. I am open to your call, Lord, and desire to serve you.
Feast of the Presentation of our Lord
This feast celebrates the coming of the Lord into his temple. He is met by representatives of the old covenant, Simeon and Anna.
Lord of ages, "my eyes has seen your salvation which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:30 – 32)
Blaise, Bishop and Martyr (d. 316)
Blaise was a good bishop, working hard to encourage the physical and spiritual needs of the people. However, because persecution of Christians still raged in Armenia. Blaise was forced to flee to the back country. He lived there as a hermit in solitude and prayer. One day hunters found him and hauled him off to prison where a mother came with her young son who had a fish bone lodged in his throat. At Blaise’s command the child was able to cough up the bone. The legend continues that the governor tried to persuade Blaise to sacrifice to pagan idols. Finally he was beheaded.
On this feast day we have the opportunity to have our throats blessed in church.
Dear Jesus, I pray that my life and the lives of my family and friends will be blessed with good health, peace and love. When confronted with illness or obstacles may we accept and overcome them through your comfort and love.
Agatha, Virgin and Martyr (d 251 )
Patron of Sicily, Nurses, Foundry Workers, Miners, Jewellers
Legend has it that Agatha was arrested as a Christian, tortured and sent to a house of prostitution to be mistreated. She was preserved from being violated and was later put to death. The year after her death the stilling of an eruption of Mount Etna was attributed to her intercession. As a result, people apparently continued to ask her prayers for protection against fire.
Loving Lord, protect me and my family from evil and all those elements that bring destruction. Keep us safe in your loving arms.
Paul Miki, Priest and Martyr (1564 -1597)
Paul was a Jesuit and native of Japan. He was martyred along with many others in Japan. He was martyred because he taught the doctrine of Christ. He preached to people that they should not hesitate to ask Jesus to help them to be happy. He forgave those who persecuted and killed him.
Dear God, many will challenge us for being who we are and having the beliefs we have. May we stand strong in our faith and connections holding fast to what we believe to be true and right.
Jerome Emiliani, Religious (1486– 1537)
Patron of Orphans, Abandoned children
While spending time in prison, Jerome learned to pray. When he escaped, he returned to Venice and began to study for the priesthood. Plague and famine swept northern Italy. Jerome distributed all his property and possessions to the needy, particularly to abandoned children. He founded three orphanages, a shelter for penitent prostitutes and a hospital. He later founded a congregation dedicated to the care and of orphans and the education of youth.
Dear Lord, I pray every day that my spirit and my soul will be nourished. I pray that I will always be meditative and reflective, with an open heart and clear mind.
Scholastica, Virgin, Religious (480 -542?)
Patron of Children with Convulsions
Scholastica and her twin brother St Benedict both established religious communities close to each other. She was born of wealthy parents but gave up her wealth to live as a poor contemplative. Scholastica and her brother kept in close contact throughout the year. They were a great spiritual support for each other.
Loving Lord, may my love and union with my siblings always be strong, so I can be for them a constant support and a source of love and inspiration.
World Day of Prayer for the Sick
Jesus wanted the people to know that God wants our total good as human beings. Jesus forgave people their sins and ministered to the sick. The Church has designated today as World Day of Prayer for the Sick. We pray for healing. It is also a day to recognise the selfless work of doctors, nurses, and other health – care specialists who dedicate their lives to healing others.
Dear Lord you healed the blind, the lame, the crippled, people afflicted with different kinds of pain and illness. We pray to you for healing of our physical afflictions. Help us to bring comfort, support and love to all those who are ill.
Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor (1007—1072)
Damian lived a life of prayer and fasting. He eventually left teaching and gave himself to prayer with the Benedictines. He prayed often, studied the Bible, and slept rarely. As abbot he found five other hermitages. He often served as a peacemaker between arguing factions in the Church or government. He was eventually made Cardinal Bishop of Ostia and wrote many letters, sermons and biographies.
Lord of all, you call us to be a brother or sister to all people. You give us a moral obligation to love all of your children. We pray for the courage to bring about justice and peace.
Feast of the Chair of Peter
The feast commemorates Christ choosing Peter to take his place as the servant authority of the whole Church. Peter is the spokesperson for the twelve about their experience of the Holy Spirit; to defend the Church’s mission before the civil authorities; and for the community in the problem of Ananias and Sappahira. Peter is the first to preach the good news to the Gentiles. The healing power of Jesus in him is well attested in many miracles. On Vatican Hill, in Rome during the reign of Nero, Peter died as a martyr, probably in the company of many Christians.
Dear God, we pray for the healing powers, that is words and actions that bring healing to others, to their physical, mental, and spiritual afflictions.
Casimir (1458- 1483)
Patron of Poland, Lithuania, Russia
Born of kings, and in line to be a king, Casimir was blessed with many virtues, including knowledge. Even as a teenager he was known for his goodness, and lived a disciplined life, sleeping on the ground, spending a great part of the night in prayer, and dedicating himself to lifelong celibacy. At one time he was sent by his father to lead an army into war but he refused. He returned home and made the decision never to involve himself in war.
Dear God, it is difficult to live a life of self control. I know that this is what you call me to, and this discipline will bring many rewards. However, I sometimes give in to temptation. When I fail, I pray for a reconciled and renewed relationship with you.
Perpetua and Felicity, martyrs (d. 203)
Perpetua was a young, beautiful, well-educated mother and chronicler of the persecution of Christians by the emperor Septimius Severus. Felicity was a courageous slave in the prison and pregnant. Despite threats of persecution and death they both refused to renounce the Christian faith. They were sent to the public games in the amphitheatre where they were set upon by bears, then beheaded. In her diary, Perpetua describes her period as a time of horror. However when they allowed her infant son to stay with her, her prison became a palace to her.
Dear Lord, there are times when I feel like everything is going wrong and there is nobody who believes in me or supports me. I know you are always with me and my friendship with you comforts me. Thank you for your unconditional love and constant presence.
John of God, religious (1495-1550)
Patron of hospitals, the sick, nurses, booksellers, those with heart ailments.
John led a wild life until he was forty. His acts of penance were as passionate as his previous life had been. Then he was visited by Blessed John of Avila who advised him to be more actively involved in tending to the needs of others rather than in enduring personal hardships. John gained peace of heart and began his work with the poor. He established a house for the sick and the poor and continued a deep interior prayer life reflected in his spirit of humility. Twenty years after his death his followers formed the Brothers Hospitallers.
Loving Lord, I will do acts of charity and goodness to reconcile my relationship with you and those who I have offended. I will sacrifice my own selfish desires to show you how much I desire to live in union with you.
Frances of Rome, wife mother, and religious (1384-1440)
Patron of widows, motorists
A devoted and loving wife, Frances longed for a life of prayer and service, so she organised a group of women to minster the needs of Rome’s poor. With the birth of her children she turned her attention to the needs of her own household. When the great plague struck Italy, Frances used all her money and sold all her possessions to buy whatever the sick might need. She was then given permission to found a society of women who offered themselves to God through service to the poor. She joined the community after her husband died.
Dear God, you call some of us to be leaders. If I am chosen to be a leader may I lead with wisdom and prudence.
Patrick, bishop (389- approx 461)
Patron of Ireland, Nigeria
At the age of sixteen Patrick and a large number of his father’s slaves and vassals were captured by Irish raiders and sold as slaves in Ireland. For six years he worked as a shepherd, suffering from hunger and cold, until he escaped. His captivity had meant spiritual conversion and after years of study he was made bishop. He felt the call to work in Ireland, and returned there and converted many to Catholicism. He ordained a large number of priests, divided the country into dioceses, held church councils, founded several monasteries, and continually urged his people to greater holiness in Christ. He was a man of action, with a rock-like belief in his vocation.
Lord of the missions, you call us to be a servant to all your people. As St. Patrick brought you to the Irish, may we embrace our suffering, enduring it as you endured the cross. May our suffering forge greatness within and bring us the treasures of the heart.
Cyril of Jerusalem, bishop and doctor (approx. 315 – 386)
Ordained a priest and given the task of catechising those prepared for baptism, Cyril was later accused of insubordination and of selling Church property to relieve the poor. After being vindicated, he returned to find Jerusalem torn with heresy, schism, and strife, and racked with crime. He went to the (second ecumenical) Council of Constantinople, where the amended form of the Nicene Creed was promulgated. As a result of his work there, the bishops of the Council praised him as a champion of orthodoxy against the Arians who were denying the divinity of Jesus.
Dear God, there are times when people tell false stories and lies about me or other people. Help me to stand up for the truth. I know you are with me, and I pray that all I do is true to you.
Joseph, husband of Mary (first century)
Patron of the Church, fathers, carpenters, artisans, manual workers, the poor, religious travellers
The Bible pays Joseph the highest compliment, saying Joseph was a “just man”. By this the Bible means that he was completely open to all that God wanted. He became holy by surrendering totally to God. The just man was simply, joyfully, wholeheartedly obedient to God- in marrying Mary, in naming Jesus, in shepherding the precious pair to Egypt, in bringing them to Nazareth, in the undetermined number of years he lived and worked with faith and courage.
Jesus give me the strength, courage, and wisdom to be a just person like St Joseph. May my actions, words, career and all my life choices express justice towards others and bring about justice in my community.
Turibius of Mongrovejo, bishop (1538-1606)
Patron of Latin American bishops
Turibus was ordained priest and bishop and sent to Peru where he found colonisation at its worst. The Spanish conquerors including some of the clergy, were guilty of every sort of abuse against the native population. Turibus visited everywhere, studying the language and staying two or three days in each place with neither bed nor food, facing wild animals, disease, and hunger. Many of his people were very poor, yet sensitive, so he helped them secretly, while speaking out against abuses and building hospitals.
Dear Jesus, you call us to be a people of charity, giving to the poor quietly without boasting of our charitable acts. Help me be a person who acts quietly and humbly, serving others because of my love for you.