In his prayer video for the month of July, Pope Francis has asked Christians to join him in praying for those who have strayed from the faith, providing hope to them through the witness of our joy and actions.
“Let us never forget that our joy is Jesus Christ – his faithful and inexhaustible love,” the Pope says at the opening of the video, depicting a man in dark-colored clothing sitting on steps outside of a Church.
“When a Christian becomes sad, it means that he has distanced himself from Jesus,” he says, stressing that “we must not leave him alone!”
Rather, “we should offer him Christian hope – with our words, yes, but more with our testimony, with our freedom, with our joy,” Francis says, as a second man, dressed in white, then walks out of the church and sits next to the man on the steps.
The video then shows several images of happy people, including a group smiling while receiving catechesis, youth dancing during World Youth Day and hands praying the rosary.
At the close of the video, the Pope makes his appeal, saying “let us pray that our brothers and sisters who have strayed from the faith, through our prayer and witness to the Gospel, may rediscover the beauty of the Christian life.”
While Pope Francis is known for reaching out to those of other faiths, his intention this month hits closer to home, focusing on the need to pray not only for Christian unity, but for those who struggle with the faith or who have perhaps left the Church for one reason or another.
His prayer videos first launched during the Jubilee of Mercy and are part of an initiative of the Jesuit-run global prayer network Apostleship of Prayer. They are filmed in collaboration with the Vatican Television Center and the Argentinian marketing association La Machi.
The Apostleship of Prayer, which produces the monthly videos on the Pope’s intentions, was founded by Jesuit seminarians in France in 1884 to encourage Christians to serve God and others through prayer, particularly for the needs of the Church.
Since the late 1800s, the organization has received a monthly, “universal” intention from the Pope. In 1929, an additional missionary intention was added by the Holy Father, aimed at the faithful in particular.
Starting in January, rather than including a missionary intention, Pope Francis has elected to have only one prepared prayer intention – the universal intention featured in the prayer video – and will add a second intention focused on an urgent or immediate need if one arises.
The prayer intentions typically highlight issues of importance not only for Pope Francis, but for the world, such as families, the environment, the poor and homeless, Christians who are persecuted and youth.
By Elise Harris