While giving a retreat to some Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma Michigan, I've been privileged to share in their prayer life. While these Sisters are very active around the world, prayer is certainly a big part of their lives. It's clear that prayer has a very apostolic dimension for them. For example, every day the Sisters make a Holy Hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament. They begin by naming many intentions and people for whom they are offering their Holy Hour. I was happily surprised to hear, at the top of the list, the Holy Father's two monthly prayer intentions which we in the Apostleship of Prayer publicize. That the Holy Hour has a strong apostolic dimension can be clearly seen in the prayer which the Sisters recite as they begin:
O Jesus, Son of God, You Who are to bestow Your blessing upon us assembled here, we humbly beg You that it may impart to each and all of us the graces we need. Let Your blessing extend to places far and wide. Let it be felt by the afflicted who cannot come here to receive it personally. Let the weak and the tempted feel its power wherever they may be. Let poor sinners come under its influence prompting them to turn to You. Let it reach the missionaries who work for Your people, whose God You are.
Lord, we humbly beg Your blessing for us here and for all those dear to us, and may it effect that secret purpose for which, O Lord, You always generously impart it. Amen.
The Sisters also pray Acts of Faith, Hope, and Charity every time they gather for prayer. Here are these very simple and beautiful prayers:
My God, I believe in Thee and all Thy Church doth teach, because Thou hast said it and Thy Word is true.
My God, I hope in Thee, for grace and for glory, because of Thy promises, Thy mercy and Thy power.
My God, because Thou art so good, I love Thee with all my heart, and for Thy sake, I love my neighbor as myself.
After Mass the Sisters pray the Prayer to St. Michael, the Suscipe of Venerable Catherine McAuley, a prayer for her beatification, and the following prayer which Blessed John Paul II wrote as an Act of Consecration of the Modern World to our Lady of Fatima.
Prayer for Peace to Mary, the Light of Hope
Immaculate Heart of Mary, help us to conquer the menace of evil, which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today, and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down our modern world and seem to block the paths towards the future!
From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against the life of man from its very beginning, deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us.
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us.
From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us.
Accept, O Mother of Christ, this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings, laden with the sufferings of whole societies. Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit to conquer all sin: individual sin and the "sin of the world," sin in all its manifestations. Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the redemption, the power of merciful Love. May it put a stop to evil. May it transform consciences. May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope. Amen.
As I get ready to return home to Milwaukee, I'm consoled by the thought that the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma are offering these prayers every day.