I'm still in Des Moines giving a parish mission and today I had a chance to meet with Bishop Richard Pates who is very supportive of the Apostleship. Before he left St. Paul, MN where he was an auxiliary bishop, he gave me some advice about asking bishops to name diocesan directors for the Apostleship. From the hierarchy to the youngest members of the Church, we are working to introduce the simple and profound Eucharistic spirituality of the Apostleship of Prayer to people.
Before having lunch with Bishop Pates I met with grade school students at Christ the King Parish. I was here last year and intoduced them to the meaning of the imagery of Sacred Heart paintings and statues. This year I went around and talked about praying for the Holy Father's monthly intentions.
I begin my brief presentation by asking the children if they ever pray for others. Then I ask who they pray for. Usually they say they pray for a relative who is sick or a friend or their parents or a grandparent who died recently. In some cases students will say they pray for our troops serving overseas. Then I ask if they ever pray for their pastor, in this case Msgr. Frank Bognanno. The children usually look at me with blank faces; this is not an intention that's part of their daily prayers. Then I ask who the local bishop is and the Pope and I point out that every time we go to Mass we pray for these two people. And then I ask the children the following question: "If Pope Benedict asked you to pray for something, would you?" Usually there's a pretty immediate response with nods. At this point in my presentations I tell the class that every month the Holy Father asks us to pray for two very specific intentions of his.
Christ the King School in Des Moines has the Internet connected to a projector and so I was then able to go to the Apostleship of Prayer web site and show the students how they can find out about the Holy Father's monthly intentions. With the older students I go to the regular monthly reflection and with the younger ones I go to the Children's Reflection. After going through the two intentions I show them that we also have a calendar with a daily, two minute YouTube video on it, and I watch a sample with them.
Recently a Religious Sister in the Philippines wrote us to tell us how much she appreciates these brief videos and how she uses them in her classes.
After a time for questions I go on to the next class. It all takes 10 to 15 minutes and I'm hoping the seeds that are planted will sprout into new generations of "prayer warriors" for the Pope.