Pope Francis’s prayer intention for March is dedicated “for formation in spiritual discernment”.

Pope Francis said: “Let us pray together that the Church may appreciate the urgency of formation in spiritual discernment, both on the personal and communitarian levels.

“Every Christian ought to grow in the ability to ‘read within’ his or her life, and to understand where and to what he or she is being called by the Lord, in order to carry on his mission,” the Pope said.

It has become the custom of Pope Francis to release a video message detailing his new prayer intention each month.

Celebration of Mary, Mother of Church

Pope Francis has decided that the ancient devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Mother of the Church, is now to become part of the Roman Calendar and that the feast will be celebrated annually on the day after Pentecost.

The Pope took this decision in the light of the tradition surrounding the devotion to Mary as Mother of the Church. The decree reflects the history of Marian theology in the Church’s liturgical tradition and the writings of the Church Fathers.

In 1964, Pope Paul VI had “declared the Blessed Virgin Mary as ‘Mother of the Church’”, while in the Holy Year of Reconciliation in 1975, the Church inserted into the Roman Missal a votive Mass in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.

With the present decree, Pope Francis has inserted this celebration in the universal Church’s liturgy as a memorial on a fixed date.

Prayer for Christian sites’ protection

Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby have called on the Israeli government to protect the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem. The status quo is the agreement that governs relations between Church and State.

The two archbishops have committed to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and have urged the Israeli government to address this crisis “as a matter of urgency” and immediately enter into dialogue with the local Churches to find a resolution.

The Christian leaders, Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land, and Nourhan Manougian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, had accused Israel of a “systematic campaign against the Churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land”, and  “flagrant violation” of the status quo.

(Compiled by Fr Joe Borg)