By Maria Covarrubias
In last month’s article I wrote about prayer as the most effective tool we have to encounter with God. I also referenced that in Sacred Scriptures we find prayers formulated by tradition from the first Christian communities. These include prayers of praise and blessing, petition, intercession, thanksgiving and praise.
In this article, I am going to write about the Prayer of Intercession. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that when one’s heart and mind is raised to God on behalf of another it is an intercessory prayer (CCC 2634-2636). Intercessory prayer is rooted in life-giving love and generosity. We care and want the best for others. “The intercession of Christians recognizes no boundaries: for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, for persecutors, for the salvation of those who reject the Gospel” (CCC 2636). Clearly the person who intercedes and acts as an intercessor has a very active role. This is a person who is willing to put the needs and concerns of another person or group first.
There are many stories of intercession in the Bible. In the Old Testament we read about Abraham’s intercession on behalf of the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18-19). In this remarkable story we see a God who is waiting and ready to forgive and respond. God is listening…
In the New Testament, the four Gospels narrate in different ways and circumstances that Jesus was constantly interceding in prayer for those who asked for his help, including those who needed healing. Jesus often prayed alone for others. In Luke 6:12, the evangelist writes, “In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God.”
After the first Christian century, stories of intercessory prayer could be found everywhere among the followers of Jesus. Today, we continue to use the intercessory prayer to bring to God the needs of others. One of the most popular intercessory prayers is the Rosary. Praying through the Rosary helps us meditate in the life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, the greatest life-giving story. Pope Paul VI made this statement: the Rosary is the compendium of the entire Gospel. St. John Paul II proposed that a new set of mysteries be added to the Rosary’s Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries. The pope said that the five Mysteries of Light or Luminous Mysteries filled the Rosary’s Gospel gap. Each scriptural passage and reflection gives witness to the power of prayer to transform, renew, strengthen and direct those who pray it faithfully and reflective. In this month of October when we honor Our Lady of the Rosary (October 7th) let’s make an intentional effort to pray this intercessory prayer with our family.
How do I teach my children to learn this intercessory prayer? Or how do I learn to love it? First, you need to ask the Holy Spirit the gift of love for this prayer. Then, learn about it and practice reciting it with faith and love; talk to your children about the Rosary sharing with them your own experience with it. Give each child a rosary to hold while you explain the parts and prayers. Have an altar in your home where the family can gather around it to pray the Rosary. If you have young children, you may want to pray a mystery per day; possibly reading from the Bible something about the mystery. For older children you can encourage them to lead the Rosary or to pray a decade of the Rosary. Be creative and remember that “the family that prays together remains together.”
Maria Covarrubias is the Director of the Office of Catechetical Ministry for the Diocese.