Today, October 27, Catholics and Christians around the world are observing a World Day of Prayer initiated by Pope Francis for the intention of a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Holy Land, as well as to the many wars continuing throughout the world. The Pope called the faithful to participate in the day by fasting, performing acts of penance, and praying in unity as followers of Christ.
Aleteia previously reported on various initiatives organized by dioceses, archdioceses, and parishes from around the world, but today we’ll discuss some practical tips on how to participate in the World Day of Prayer.
Pray with Pope Francis
Pope Francis himself will be presiding over a Holy Hour from St. Peter’s Square at 6:00 p.m. Rome time (12:00 p.m EST), a service which will be live streamed from the Shalom World YouTube Channel and other outlets. The video below will carry the live stream when it begins and will remain up so the faithful may watch as they are able.
Pray the Holy Rosary
The Holy Rosary is a timeless Catholic prayer that is a profound experience of Christian meditation. While it can take about half an hour to pray the Rosary in its entirety, it can also be broken up by decade, to be prayed throughout the day when time allows. This is an excellent way to observe the World Day of Prayer while going about your day at work, taking a few minutes to pray the dozen prayers of one Rosary decade during a short break.
Those who are unfamiliar with the Rosary, or who could just use a refresher, would benefit from Philip Kosloski’s in-depth guide to praying the Rosary. He provides each of the prayers in order, and even explains the Joyful, Sorrowful, Luminous, and Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, which provide rotating meditations throughout the week. As the World Day of Prayer takes place on a Friday, Kosloski recommends meditating on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary.
The Pope has directed us to pray for peace in the ongoing conflicts around the world, and there are few places as peaceful as being before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Adoration is a deeply personal method of prayer that provides the faithful an opportunity for a face-to-face conversation with Jesus, who is truly present in the Eucharist.
For those who are less familiar with adoration, the vast silence of a church at prayer can be a little intimidating, with little direction on how to fill up the time. Thankfully, Tom Hoopes has a fantastic guide to participating in a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament, with minute-by-minute directions to get the most out of your prayer time.
One of the three directions from Pope Francis is for the faithful to fast in observance of the World Day of Prayer. This is not the same as the Lenten fasts, which have us eschew meat on Fridays, but a full day of fasting. We can use the same criteria as Good Friday if we want: This means meals should be limited to one large meal and two small meals, which together should not amount to more than the large meal.
Fasting is a sacrifice and an act of penance. The hunger we feel during a fast is meant to remind us of the purpose of fasting and keep our minds prayerful throughout the day. It should be noted that fasting is a private endeavor and should not be flaunted, as Jesus directed in Matthew 6:18:
“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to others to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”
For those who have the time, there is the novena, an ancient devotion that traditionally would see the faithful pray for 9 days. The shorter 9-hour novena would be perfect for a World Day of Prayer, however, and these could be considered as excellent additions to the Holy Rosary.
Those who are unsure where to start with a novena should look no further than Aleteia. Phil Kosloski recommends the 9-hour novena to the Infant Jesus of Prague, which is often said for an urgent need. Kathleen Hattrup offers a 9-hour novena which has guided a group of friends through prayer for years.
Another prayer to consider is a phenomenal Litany of the Holy Names of Jesus, written by Elizabeth Scalia, a prayer that implores the intercession of Christ, calling him by no less than 95 titles of the Son of God.