Each month, Pope Francis prays for a specific intention and asks us to join him.
Pope Francis’ Prayer Intention for March 2017:
Support for Persecuted Christians
That persecuted Christians may be supported by the prayers and material help of the whole Church.
There are many ways to pray for this intention, including throwing up a few Hail Marys or Our Fathers “for persecuted Christians” or for “Pope Francis’ intentions,” the latter of which is handy when you can’t remember this month’s intention. You can pray with Pope Francis however you like, but we put a few ideas together to help get you started:
- Prayer for Persecuted Christians from the Knights of Columbus
- Prayer for Persecuted Christians from Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)
- Novena to Our Lady, Help of Christians
- Way of the Cross for Persecuted Christians
- Lectio Divina (external links)
- Psalm 23
- The Suppression of Judaism and the Martyrdom of Eleazar | 2 Maccabees 6
- Martyrdom of Seven Brothers | 2 Maccabees 7
- The Stoning of St. Stephen | Acts 7
- Verses 1-53 contain Stephen’s speech to the Council
- Verses 54-60 recount his martyrdom
- Conversion of Paul | Acts 9:1-31
Praying is the best and most effective way to bring about supernatural change in the world. If you’d like to get your hands dirty with other actions in addition to prayer, here are some things you might like to try:
- Fast for persecuted Christians
- Consider the Baoutha, a 3-day fast* resembling that of Ninevah, practiced by Chaldean Catholics and Orthodox Christians. *no eating before noon, no meat anytime
- Host a viewing of the documentary Under Caeser’s Sword, using their discussion guide to facilitate a discussion on the persecution of Christians.
- Donate to charities that help persecuted Christians.
- USCCB’s International Religious Freedom Page – Chock full of documents, letters, news, and speeches on the topic.
- Under Caeser’s Sword:
Prayer for Persecuted Christians
O God of all the nations,
the One God who is and was and always
will be, in your providence you willed that
your Church be united to the suffering of
Look with mercy on your servants who are
persecuted for their faith in you. Grant them
perseverance and courage to be worthy
imitators of Christ. Bring your wisdom upon
leaders of nations to work for peace among
May your Spirit open conversion for those
who contradict your will, that we may live
in harmony. Give us the grace to be united
in truth and freedom, and to always seek
your will in our lives.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us.
Prayer for Persecuted Christians
Father in Heaven,
you make your sun shine
on good and bad alike.
Your Son Jesus Christ died for us all
and in his glorious Resurrection
He still retains the five wounds of his Passion.
With his divine power, he now sustains
all those who suffer persecution and martyrdom
for the sake of their fidelity
to the faith of the Church.
Merciful and mighty Father,
do not allow Cain to return again to murder
helpless Abel, innocent Abel.
May persecuted Christians around the world
remain, like Mary, their Mother,
together at the foot of the cross
of Christ the Martyr.
Comfort those menaced by violence
and those oppressed by uncertainty.
May your Holy Spirit of love
make fruitful the witness and the blood
of those who die forgiving.
Novena to Our Lady, Help of Christians
This novena from ACN appeals to Our Lady, Help of Christians for those persecuted for the faith in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria.
Here’s what to do each day of the novena:
- Start with the Sign of the Cross
- Pray the Opening Prayer
- Pray the day’s Petition
- Closing Prayers:
- Hail Mary
- Mary, Help of Christians: Pray for Us
- Glory Be
Dear Mother, we come to you on this day imploring your powerful intercession, asking you to pray for genuine and lasting peace to fall upon all nations throughout the Middle East; and especially at this time the great nations of Iraq and Syria which are beset by such violence and turmoil.
First Day’s Petition
O Holy Mary, powerful help of Christians, we turn to you with faith. In your mercy hear the prayers of all of those who so desperately implore your help. Pray that they may hold steadfast to their faith and trust in our loving, merciful Father, even in the present times of great trial and distress.
Second Day’s Petition
O Holy Mary, Mother of goodness and mercy, with your visible aid you have so often delivered Christians from the attacks of their enemies. Defend the souls of those who are so violently persecuted today, from the assaults of the devil; may love and forgiveness triumph always in their hearts and minds.
Third Day’s Petition
O Holy Mary, most powerful Queen, you alone triumphed over the many false teachings which sought to tear away many of your children from the bosom of the Church. Help those who are today so tested in their faith, to hold firmly to the truths of the Gospel, and to not give in to false teachings or the temptations of anything contrary to the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. May the light of truth of the Gospel shine forth to bring lasting peace to the Middle East.
Fourth Day’s Petition
O Holy Mary, Our sweetest Mother, Queen of Martyrs, infuse in the hearts of all the faithful, especially those in Iraq and Syria, the strength to persevere in faith, hope and love. Overcoming all hatred, persecution and opposition, may they live their faith and show themselves on every occasion, a devout child of yours. May the light of their faith illuminate the darkness in the hearts of their enemies.
Fifth Day’s Petition
O Holy Mary, at this time of turmoil in the world, we ask you to protect the whole Church and especially the Holy Father, Pope Francis. Pour out your blessings and protection upon all Bishops, Priests and Religious of Iraq, Syria and the rest of the Middle East; such that they may bring peace to this region. Defend them from the attacks of their enemies, deliver them from all evil, such that they may keep a safe watch over their flocks, and continue to provide for those who have been entrusted to their care.
Sixth Day’s Petition
O Holy Mary, Queen of the Apostles, we beg of you especially to extend your loving patronage to all missionaries; especially those risking their lives and safety in the nations of Iraq and Syria. We ask you to pray for their protection at all times, such that they are able to bring all people of the earth to the true faith of Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord and Saviour.
Seventh Day’s Petition
O Holy Mary, gracious and merciful Mother, by your efficacious intercession, you have saved Christians from deadly attacks of both body and soul. We implore you to continue to watch over your faithful children, especially those undergoing great trials; that they may persevere in faith, strengthen and encourage their loved ones, and call sinners to repentance. May the truth and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ triumph here on earth, especially in those nations and amongst those people who are at present far from the love of your Son and the salvation of his Church.
Eighth Day’s Petition
O Holy Mary, Pillar of the Church and Help of Christians, we ask you to intercede especially for those children and young people caught up in the violence currently afflicting Iraq and Syria, and for those who have had to flee to neighboring countries in search of safety. We ask you to pray for the protection of their hearts and minds and for the healing of all harm that has already afflicted them. Above all, may they retain hearts of flesh and not hearts of stone, and may their faith remain childlike; trusting always in the unfailing love our Lord Jesus Christ who is with us always.
Ninth Day’s Petition
O Holy Mary, in every age you have been the steadfast help of Christians. Please pray for a lasting peace to fall upon the entire Middle East. Assist all of those who call upon you, with your invincible aid in life, and especially at the hour of their death, so that after having loved and praised you here on earth, they may deserve to come and sing your mercies forever in Heaven.
Way of the Cross for Persecuted Christians
ACN has produced a companion for the Way of the Cross (AKA The Stations of the Cross) that pairs stories of and prayers for persecuted Christians with each station. Available as a PDF on their website.
2017 Intentions | Apostleship of Prayer
Baoutha | The Chaldean News
Assyrian Culture, Som Baoutha; Nineveh Feast | Wikipedia
Prayer for Persecuted Christians | Knights of Columbus
Prayer for Persecuted Christians | Aid to the Church in Need
ACN’s Novena to Our Lady, Help of Christians | Aid to the Church in Need
Way of the Cross | Aid to the Church in Need
International Religious Freedom | USCCB
Psalm 23 | Bible Gateway
2 Maccabees 6 | Bible Gateway
2 Maccabees 7 |n Bible Gateway
Acts 7 | Bible Gateway
Acts 9:1-31 | Bible Gateway