Prayers for the Week
Gregory the Great, pope and doctor (540? -604)
Patron of teachers, scholars, music, singers
Son of a wealthy Roman senator, St Gregory was made prefect or governor of Rome in his early thirties. After five years he resigned and founded six Benedictine monasteries. At age fifty he was made Pope. He made peace with the invading Lombards, cared for the poor and victims of the plagues and famine and made many reforms through his writings.
Dear God, give each of us the courage and strength we need to be true witnesses to our faith. Like Gregory the Great, help us understand the changes we can make through our courageous acts. May we always have the faith to be true witnesses to Jesus. Amen.
Birth of Mary, Mother of Jesus (first century)
Today we celebrate the birth of Mary. This feast originated in the Eastern Church. No one is certain where Mary was born. Some traditions say Nazareth and others Jerusalem. This feast celebrates Mary’s personal sanctity and vocation as Mother of Jesus.
Dear God, the birth of the Virgin Mary’s Son, Jesus, gave each of us the promise of salvation. Help us live the faith that Mary taught in accepting your will. May we have the strength to face all that discipleship requires and rejoice in the promise of salvation offered to each of us in and through Jesus’s birth and life. Amen.
Peter Claver, priest (1581 -1654)
Patron of missionary work among African slaves
This young Jesuit priest left Spain, his homeland, in 1610 to minister to the slaves in South America. Although condemned by the Church the slave trade continued. Peter Claver served the people both on and off the ship, bringing them medicine, food, bread water, salt brandy and lemons. He gave basic instruction of the faith and assured his brothers and sisters of their human dignity.
Dear Jesus, we know that like St Peter, we are called upon to exercise courage. When we are challenged to stand up for what is right, help us accept this challenge. May our actions defend the rights of others?. We know that we can find the courage to do this by developing a strong faith life. May you and your teachings always be at the centre of all that we do and are. Amen.
John Chrysostom. Bishop and doctor (349 -407)
Patron of preachers, public speakers
Bishop of Constantinople John suffered stomach ailments from his desert days as a monk. He returned to Antioch as a prophet and powerful speaker, speaking out against greed, injustice and lack of concern for the poor. His sermons were so powerful that he comforted the disturbed and disturbed the comfortable.
God of holiness, we know that none of us is without fault. We each have our limitations and weaknesses, as well as gifts and strong points. Help us know our strengths and use them to serve you as St John Chrysostom did. In doing your will may we be peacemakers who touch the lives of many. Amen.
Feast of the Triumph of the Cross
God of life, may we never be discouraged by the crosses that we face in our daily lives. Help us pick up our crosses as you did and walk confidently in faith and in love. May our struggles lead us to a deeper appreciation of life and help us be more understanding of the struggles of our friends. May we learn from the difficulties that we face and use this learning for the benefit of others. Amen
Our Lady of Sorrows
This feast day was formerly known as the Seven Sorrows of Mary. The seven sorrows are: Simon’s prophecy at the presentation of Jesus in the temple, the flight into Egypt, the disappearance of the boy Jesus, the road to Calvary, the crucifixion, the removal from the cross, and the entombment of Jesus.
Dear God, often in life we face situations of sorrow and sadness; situations that seem impossible to live with. Bless each of us with the strength to deal with all that life brings, as Mary did. Help each of us to see your love in every circumstance and the promise of salvation offered to each of us. We will never fully understand the reason for our suffering and turmoil. However, may we learn to cope with it, accept it and carry on in faith. Amen.
Cyprian, bishop and martyr (d. 258)
Patron of North Africa
Cyprian was the son of pagan parents and became Christian at the age of twenty – five. He was a highly educated person who became known as an orator. He was also known for his generosity in distributing his goods to the poor. Later Cyprian was chosen as Bishop of Carthage. During a plague there, he urged Christians to help everyone, including their enemies and persecutors. He was exiled by the emperor and then recalled for trial. He refused to leave the city insisting that his people should have the witness of his martyrdom. Cyprian was a mixture of kindness and courage, vigour and steadiness.
Dear God, let us share the gifts that you gave to St Cyprian: kindness, courage vigour and steadiness. May our faith give us the confidence to use the gifts we have been blessed with. May we remain open to the Spirit in every action we take. Amen.
Robert Bellarmine, bishop and doctor (1542 – 1621)
Patron of catechists, catechumens
Robert was short in stature but a giant in academics. People would come from all over to hear him speak. While he occupied apartments in the Vatican, he limited his household expenses to what was barely essential, eating only the food available to the poor. For Pope Clement VIII he prepared two catechisms which had great influence in the Church.
Jesus, Lord and teacher, may we imitate the dedication to learning that St Robert had. May we possess the fortitude to know when we should challenge contemporary values and to assert the values that you lived and spoke. May our faith give us the confidence to speak out when our voice needs be heard. We ask this through Jesus our Lord and Saviour. Amen.
Matthew, apostle and evangelist (first century)
Patron of bankers, accountants
Matthew was a Jew who worked for the Romans collecting taxes from his fellow Jews. Many tax collectors would keep much of the money they collected for themselves. Their fellow Jews regarded them as traitors. It was shocking to them when Jesus called Matthew to be one of his apostles. Matthew immediately left his job when Jesus called him.
God of forgiveness help each of us recognise the times in our life when we have made mistakes. Give us the humility to see the error of our ways and the faith to turn our lives around. We know and trust in the forgiveness that you offer. May this forgiveness be a source of strength that encourages us to follow the path that we have chosen. Amen.
Jean de Brebeuf (1593 -1649)
Patron of Canada
Today is the feast of St. Jean de Brebeuf and seven other martyrs of North America. They responded to a call to be missionaries to the Native Americans with great faith and courage. We pray today asking these martyrs to continue to pray for us. May we possess similar faith and courage.
Dear God, we are presented with many challenges in our lives. It is often difficult to know which direction to take, which challenges to accept and which to let go of. May we listen to the voice of the Spirit so we can be more confident in our decisions. May we not let fear cause us to turn away from these challenges. By accepting some of life’s most difficult obstacles we receive some of its greatest rewards. Amen.
Vincent de Paul, priest (1580 – 1660)
Patron of works of charity, hospitals, prisoners
Vincent established homes of charity for the spiritual and physical relief of the poor and sick of each parish. He also founded homes for abandoned babies, several hospitals, collected relief funds for the victims of war and ransomed over 1200 galley slaves from North Africa. He also conducted retreats for clergy at a time when there was great laxity. He was a pioneer in clerical training and instrumental in establishing seminaries.
Dear God, help us all to be compassionate people. When we look and see the needs that exist all around us, let us not be overwhelmed. Instead let us respond to that need by contributing in any way we can. May we have the strength and self-confidence to stand up for the oppressed and isolated, the teased and the bullied, and bring them happiness and pride. May we rise to the challenges that surround us just as St Vincent de Paul did. Then we will be filled with his joy and love. Amen.
Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, archangels
Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are three of the archangels who stand before God. The word angel means messenger and archangel means a messenger sent by God on an assignment of great importance. The three angels mentioned in the Bible are Michael, captain of the heavenly host, Gabriel, who announced to Mary that she would be the Mother of God, and Raphael who guided Tobiah.
Dear God, may your angels be at our side to guide us as we make decisions throughout this day. Help us follow the direction they give us. May we feel the presence of your angels and may this offer us comfort and support as we carry out your work here on earth. Amen.
Jerome, priest and doctor (345-420)
Patron of Scripture scholars, librarians, students
Jerome was known for his fiery spirit and bad temper, but his love for God and Jesus Christ was intense. He was a scripture scholar, a master of many languages, translating the Old Testament from Hebrew and the New Testament from Greek. This translation of the Bible into Latin, the language of that day, was done by hand and took him over thirty years. He also wrote commentaries, which are a great source of inspiration today.
Dear God, we thank you for the many talents you have blessed us with. May we share the zeal of St Jerome for your gospel, so that others may come to know about Jesus and about his love. God give us the strength to keep doing the work of your saints and the perseverance to make your work our priority. Amen.