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Pope urges Catholics to join Orthodox Church in World Day of Prayer

Pope Francis holds a ball that was given to him upon his arrival at his weekly audience on August 26 (CNS)

The World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation should be a time for individuals to examine their lifestyles and the way they impact the environment, Pope Francis said.

At the end of his weekly general audience today, the Pope asked Catholics and “all people of goodwill” to join members of the Orthodox Church in the special day of prayer on September 1.

“We want to make our contribution to overcoming the ecological crisis that humanity is experiencing,” the Pope said, explaining why he decided the Catholic Church should mark the annual day of prayer begun by the Orthodox Church in 1989.

Around the world, the Pope said, Church groups are planning prayer and reflection initiatives in order to make the day of prayer a key moment for “assuming coherent lifestyles” that have less negative impact on nature.

Francis said he will join bishops, priests, religious and lay people from 5pm in St Peter’s Basilica for a special Liturgy of the Word on September 1.

During the general audience, the Pope also praised parents who juggle busy work and family schedules.

“I don’t know how they do it, but they do,” he said. “There are mums and dads who could win the Nobel Prize for this!”

Focusing his audience talk on the family and prayer, Pope Francis said he knows modern life can be frenetic and that family schedules are “complicated and packed.”

The most frequent complaint of any Christian, he said, is that he or she does not have enough time to pray.

“The regret is sincere,” the Pope said, “because the human heart seeks prayer, even if one is not aware of it.”

The way to begin, he said, is to recognise how much God loves you and to love him in return.

Francis added: “A heart filled with affection for God can turn even a thought without words into a prayer. It is good to believe in God with all your heart and it’s good to hope that he will help you when you are in difficulty or to feel obliged to thank him.

“That’s all good. But do we love the Lord? Does thinking about God move us, fill us with awe and make us more tender?”

Bowing one’s head or “blowing a kiss” when one passes a church, a crucifix or an image of Mary are small signs of that love, they are prayers, he said.