ROME – In his prayer video for March, Pope Francis asked for prayers that Christians be better educated to discern between the voices of the “culture of death” and the voice of God, calling them to carry out his mission in the world.
“Every Christian ought to grow in the ability to ‘read within’ his or her life, and to understand where and to what he or she is being called by the Lord, in order to carry on his mission,” the pope said in the video.
The pontiff’s prayer intention for March 2018 is “Formation in Spiritual Discernment,” which he said is to recognize, “from among all the voices we hear, which is the Lord’s voice.”
“The times in which we live demand that we develop a profound capacity of discernment,” he noted, explaining that the Lord’s voice both guides us to life and keeps us from falling into the “culture of death.”
The prayer intention video was released March 2, and shows a woman walking in a park with a map. Looking confused, she stops to ask people to show her the right way, but each one points her in a different direction.
Holding a small cross, she sits down on a bench and begins to pray. At the end of the video, the woman looks up from praying with a smile on her face and walks off confidently in the right direction.
“Let us pray together that the Church may appreciate the urgency of formation in spiritual discernment, both on the personal and communitarian levels,” the pope said.
The prayer intention for March corresponds with the theme of the October Synod of Bishops, which will focus on youth, faith, and vocational discernment. To prepare, the bishops will hold a pre-synod meeting, including around 300 youth, March 19-24.
An initiative of the Jesuit-run global prayer network Apostleship of Prayer, the pope’s prayer videos are filmed in collaboration with the Vatican Television Center and mark the first time the pope’s monthly prayer intentions have been featured on video.
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.
However, as of last year, rather than including a missionary intention, Francis opted to have only one prepared prayer intention – the universal intention featured in the prayer video – and will add a second intention for an urgent or immediate need should one arise.