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“May it be an intense year of prayer in which hearts are opened to receive the outpouring of God’s grace.” This is how Pope Francis described this Year of Prayer in preparation for the Jubilee 2025, in a letter on February 11, 2022. The Jubilee organizers recalled the Pontiff’s words at a press conference at the Vatican on January 23, 2024, as they presented the tools they are preparing for Churches, dioceses, and faithful around the world to live out this spiritual year in the most fruitful manner possible.
The Year of Prayer is “a privileged time in which to rediscover the value of prayer, the need for daily prayer in the Christian life,” said Archbishop Rino Fisichella, Pro-prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization that is organizing the event. “It is like an oasis sheltered from daily stress where prayer becomes nourishment for the Christian life of faith, hope and charity.”
Pope Francis officially launched the Year of Prayer during the Sunday Angelus on January 21, 2024, but he had already mentioned it on various occasions. To prepare for the Jubilee 2025, Archbishop Fisichella explained that it is important for local communities to develop and engage in prayer initiatives, especially in today’s world, and introduced what the organizers are proposing.
“The louder the cry of technology that seems to correspond to all our desires, the deeper we discern the search for a true spirituality that brings each person back to encounter themselves in the truth of their existence and therefore in a coherent relationship with God,” he explained.
This year is “a time to discover how to pray, and above all how to educate the people of today in prayer, in this age of digital culture.”
The Pope’s School of Prayer and several books
One new initiative that the archbishop mentioned will be a “School of Prayer” set up by the Pope himself. Although he could not reveal details about when or how this initiative will develop, Archbishop Fisichella explained it will be similar to the “Fridays of Mercy” that took place during the 2016 Jubilee of Mercy.
As part of that initiative, Pope Francis visited, often by surprise, places across the diocese of Rome.
“This will be a series of moments of encounter with specific groups of people to pray together and better understand the various forms of prayer: from thanksgiving to intercession; from contemplative prayer to the prayer of consolation; from adoration to supplication,” Archbishop Fisichella said.
Another project the Jubilee organizers are focusing on to encourage the Year of Prayer is the publishing of eight volumes in a series called “Notes on Prayer.”
The first, “Praying Today: A Challenge to Be Overcome,” written by Italian Cardinal Angelo Comastri with a preface by Pope Francis, was released on January 23.
The other volumes to be published shorty will be: “Praying with the Psalms” by Gianfranco Ravasi, (February 2024); “The Prayer of Jesus” by Juan López Vergara (February 2024); “Praying with Saints and Sinners” by Paul Murray, OP (March 2024); “Parables on Prayer” by Antonio Pitta (March 2024); “The Church in Prayer” by Carthusian Monks (March 2024); “The Prayer of Mary and the Saints” by Catherine Aubin (April 2024); and “The Prayer Jesus Taught Us: The ‘Our Father’” by Ugo Vanni (April 2024).
Encouraging the Churches to act locally
In his 2022 letter Pope Francis had called for 2024 to be a “a great ‘symphony’ of prayer.” In response, the Jubilee organizers have also prepared pastoral pamphlets that will be sent to dioceses across the world with indications and suggestions on ways to pray, which can also be amended for the local audience.
These will include types of prayers for different liturgical seasons or locations, such as sanctuaries, or categories of people, such as young people or families. Archbishop Fisichella emphasized that the Jubilee organizers do not want to propose “particular initiatives,” but rather “tiptoe into the local Church by offering tools and encouraging an intense prayer life.”
For the Jubilee 2025 to be “an event that spiritually enriches the life of the Church and of the entire people of God, becoming a concrete sign of hope, it has to be prepared for and lived in individual communities,” he explained.
Their proposals are “so that the prayer of the Church can once again reinvigorate and leave its mark on the life of every baptized person.”
Lastly, the Jubilee organizers will gather together Pope Francis’ 38 catechesis on prayer that he did during the general audiences from May 6, 2020, to June 16, 2021.
32 million pilgrims expected
During the press conference Archbishop Fisichella also detailed some numbers concerning the practical aspects of the Jubilee 2025 preparation. He said that the organizers have estimated that around 32 million pilgrims will come to Rome for the event and the Holy See has 723 people working at various levels to make it happen.
He said that so far they have had more than 200 meetings and inspections, as the city of Rome has taken on various projects to accommodate this event, including updating roads around the Vatican. He also added they have 208 contact persons across Italian dioceses and 90 for episcopal conferences around the world. Archbishop Fisichella also reminded that Pope Francis’ papal bull officially proclaiming the Jubilee will be released on May 9.
Aleteia is offering a Prayer each week as one tool to help us prepare. Find them here.