Catholics in England and Wales are being invited to pause for a moment of prayer every first Friday of the month as an act of faith and public witness.
The invitation has been made by Rt Rev Kieran Conry, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton and Chair of the Bishops’ Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis. Speaking ahead of Home Mission Sunday, which falls on 16 September 2012, he said: "On Home Mission Sunday we reflect on our role in the mission of the Church. A simple way that we can contribute to this and grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ, is to pray publicly during the day.
"I would like to invite every Catholic, especially during the Year of Faith, to pause for a moment of prayer of praise and thanksgiving at 3pm if possible, or perhaps when you break for lunch, on the first Friday of every month. Whatever you are doing, as your responsibilities allow, stop, perhaps close your eyes, bow your head and prayerfully and silently meditate on the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross out of love for you and everyone. You might even want to set your mobile phone to ring at 2.55pm to remind you to pause for prayer."
Bishop Conry added: "You may choose to make up a prayer of your own just thanking the Lord 'heart speaking to heart' as was Blessed Cardinal Newman’s motto. Or you might want to say a favourite short prayer such as 'We adore you O Christ, and we praise you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.' The exact words
used are not so important as just pausing to be with Jesus in that moment. In this way you’re not only deepening your relationship with him, but quietly and confidently witnessing to your faith to those around you."
The practice of pausing for prayer at 3pm on Fridays has been a longstanding Catholic tradition because this is the time when Jesus died on the cross. Additional prayer has been observed specifically on the first Friday of every month since the 17th Century when Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and spoke to her of His Sacred Heart.
The Bishop’s invitation to observe first Friday prayer coincides with preparations for the celebration of Home Mission Sunday on 16 September which is themed ‘Confident in Faith’. Every parish in England and Wales has been sent resources, with additional items available from: www.catholicnews.org.uk/home-mission-sunday-2012
It also comes shortly before the start of the Year of Faith which Pope Benedict XVI begins on 11 October 2012.