It is our happy privilege and duty to pray for the Church. About prayer in general, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said: “Dear brothers and sisters, prayer is not an accessory or ‘optional,’ but a question of life or death. In fact, only those who pray—in other words, who entrust themselves to God with filial love—can enter eternal life, which is God himself…. Let us ask Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word and teacher of the spiritual life, to teach us to pray as her Son did so that our life may be transformed by the light of his presence.”
Here we want to talk about praying for the pope (also called the Holy Father), so let’s first look at some of what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about the pope:
“To proclaim the faith and to plant his reign, Christ sends his apostles and their successors. He gives them a share in his own mission. From him they receive the power to act in his person.
“The Lord made St. Peter the visible foundation of his Church. He entrusted the keys of the Church to him. The bishop of the Church of Rome, successor to St. Peter, is ‘head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the universal Church on earth’ (CIC, can. 331)” (paragraphs 935 and 936).
Some might question why we call the pope the “Holy Father.” Catholic Answers tackles this question:
“Only God is holy by his very essence; however, by a person, place, or thing’s association with God, it too can be called holy. To be called holy is to express the idea of consecration, that someone or something belongs to God. That is why the Bible can call many persons, places, and things holy.
“In Genesis 28:16, the place God appears is ‘holy.’ In Exodus 19:6, God tells the Israelites through Moses, ‘and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ God’s dwelling place in the Tabernacle is ‘holy’ (Ex. 28:43), as is the city of Jerusalem (Is. 48:2). Even a goat, the victim of sacrifice to God, is called ‘holy’ in Leviticus 10:17.
“After Christ’s death and resurrection, the Christians called themselves and each other ‘holy ones’ or ‘saints,’ called by God to be his (Rom. 1:7). In 1 Peter 1:16 we read, ‘It is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”’
“Since we are his holy people, and his people are the Church, it is fitting that the head of his holy people be called Holy Father—not because of his own merit, but because Christ died for him and for the Church that he leads on earth.”
We ask the Holy Spirit to guide our current pope, Pope Francis, as he leads the Catholic Church in this tumultuous 21st century! The pope has an incredibly heavy responsibility on his shoulders as he leads the Church, founded by our Lord Jesus Christ. We can help him shoulder this responsibility by praying for him.
Prayer for the Pope
V. Let us pray for our Holy Father Francis.
R. The Lord preserve him and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.
Lord Jesus, shelter our Holy Father the Pope under the protection of Your Sacred Heart. Be his light, his strength and his consolation.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.