ROME — In the prayer video for May, Pope Francis challenged the Catholic community to pray that the continent’s Christians will witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace.
Beyond the natural beauty of Africa, the pope said, “we see its joie de vivre, and above all, we see grounds for hope in Africa’s rich intellect, cultural, and religious heritage.”
The May 4 video began with footage expanding over the beautiful landscapes of Africa, and changes to quick scenes of diverse individuals reflected in mirrors – like a doctor with a San Damiano Crucifix hanging beside her, a shop owner reflected among the goods in his shop, and a woman in traditional African attire smiling among vegetables in the market place.
However, as the music became more heartfelt, the pope admitted, “we cannot fail to see fratricidal wars decimating peoples and destroying these natural and cultural resources,” and the mirror splinters as two men used coarse tools to break apart bricks.
Pope Francis then asked for prayers to assist the Christian communities’ witness to Christ, and promote peace among the countries struck by bloodshed and famine.
“Let us join with our brothers and sisters of this great continent, and pray together that Christians in Africa, in imitation of the merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace,” said Pope Francis, appearing near the end of the video.
Then the video pans to a pair of hands reaching to pick up a piece of broken mirror, fractured in the previous scene, and a man lifts it up to reflect the smile of a woman facing him.
The Apostleship of Prayer, which produces the monthly videos on the pope’s intentions, was founded by Jesuit seminarians in France in 1844 to encourage Christians to serve God and others through prayer, particularly for the needs of the Church.
Since the late 1800s, the Jesuit-run global prayer network 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 pope’s prayer videos are filmed in collaboration with the Vatican Television Center. Watch it here: