Catholic Apologetics #9
St. Clement Mary Hofbauer once said: “A Christian who does not pray for the pope is like a child who does not pray for his father.” Yet, in our age when the Faith is under attack, when the Pope himself seems to be propagating errors and advancing heresy, and when the Church allows the scandal of the sexual abuse of children to advance, how can we possible pray “for the intentions of the Holy Father”?
Often, you may hear people praying for the intentions of the Holy Father at the end of their Rosaries or other prayers since this is usually a requirement to gain an indulgence. For instance, praying an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for such intentions always concludes the Way of the Cross. But should we join in such prayers if the Pope’s personal, private intentions seem contrary to the Church’s intentions?
Yes. In fact, we should! By offering our prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father we are not praying for the personal intentions of Pope Francis but rather for the six objective intentions of the Holy Father as the Church Herself teaches.
What are the 6 intentions of the Pope? The 6 objective intentions of the Holy Father are as follows:
- The Exaltation of the Church
- The Propagation of the Faith
- The Extirpation of Heresy
- The Conversion of Sinners
- The Concord between Christian Princes
- The Further Welfare of the Christian People
Exaltation of the Church
It is not an exaggeration that the Church Herself is in a great tempest as She is under assault from both the liberal, modernist forces within Her as well as from the secular, atheistic external forces that beset Her from outside. With immoral and scandalous priests within and with corrupt governments and politicians assaulting Her rights, it is imperative that we pray for the exaltation of the holy Catholic Faith, without which it is not possible to be saved.
Propagation of the Faith
We have before our eyes the example of St. Francis Xavier, among others, who labored for years in great trials and sufferings to save souls and propagate the saving Faith to all peoples. St. Francis converted more people in his life than anyone since the Apostle St. Paul. He baptized over 50,000 in 10 years, converted the entire town of Goa in India, and he labored long in Japan. Where are our missionaries today? Have they vanished in large parts because we no longer pray for them?
Extirpation of Heresy
We live in dangerous times when error is advanced as progress. The average Catholic today is exposed to more heresies and errors than arguably ever before in our history. Modernism, the synthesis of all heresies, along with relativism, subjectivism, religious liberty, and false ecumenism poisons the mind of many in the Church. And this disease of heresy is so pervasive it has infected many clergy as well. What are we doing to stop it? What are we doing to help counter this heresy? Do we pray for God, through Our Lady, to crush heresy?
Conversion of Sinners
Our Blessed Mother at Fatima said that many souls go to Hell because there is no one to pray for them. What are we doing to counsel the doubtful, to correct the erring in charity, and to make satisfaction to God for the sins of others? We can make Holy Hours of Reparation, pray Rosaries of reparation, or offer up all our daily prayers and actions for this intention.
Concord between Christian Princes
Only 100 years ago the world was plunged into the “war to end all wars” as Catholic nations fought and annihilated each other. As the Faith has further been eroded within society especially in Europe, we have seen the rise of democratic, atheistic nations. God is no longer the King of all ages. Nations claim to receive their power from the governed and there is no room for God. But what would our world look like today if the kings of old – the King of France, the King of Bavaria, the King of Belgium – were to reign today as true sovereigns who advanced the rights of God and restored true charity to all? Do we pray for truly Catholic governments to return like France of old or Ecuador under Garcia Moreno?
Further Welfare of the Christian People
The Holy Father, the Servant of the Servants of God, can teach us by example how to love our neighbor and perform both the corporal as well as the spiritual works of mercy. If you have read How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization by Thomas Woods, you will recall how Dr. Woods relates the varied, countless achievements from monasticism. Among them, we have not only the preservation of literacy and the priceless books of antiquity but countless works of charity, the first wide scale use of water power, the cultivation of agriculture, the clearing of immense areas of previously uninhabitable land, the creation of complex astronomical clocks, the creation of champagne, and dozens of other significant accomplishments. We owe a deep debt to the monks for their work in building our society. The welfare of the Christian people can only be advanced when we return to God and exalt the Holy Catholic Church again. Indeed, part of this restoration must involve prayer for the growth of monastic vocations. May we one day see this happy day return when monasteries and convents blanket our lands and these holy souls pray to God day and night for their fellow Christians.
Alas, if we have fallen from the habit of praying for the intentions of the Holy Father out of despair or sadness for what has been occurring in our Church, let us renew our rigor to say our prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father. As we do so, we should keep these six intentions at the forefront of our minds.
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