By Fr. Christopher Foeckler, MJ • St. Josaphat Formation Center, Phoenix, AZ

Being invited to speak to a large and active prayer group at our local parish, I was praying about what to tell them, since there is a lot that can be said about prayer. St. Paul’s exhortation to St. Timothy called my attention for a particular reason. He says in his letter, “First of all, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered for everyone, especially for kings and all in authority, that we may be able to lead quiet and tranquil lives in perfect piety and dignity. Prayer of this kind is pleasing to God our Savior, who wills all to be saved and to come to the truth.” 

“For everyone”! It is so easy in our personal prayers or in a particular group to focus exclusively on our individual needs, or those of the immediate group, without going beyond the borders of our little conclave. The rubrics of the Mass call for us to be mindful of the needs of the Universal Church in the Prayer of the Faithful, while not forgetting, of course, the needs of the local Church. 

St. Ambrose comments on this, saying, “You are told to pray especially for the people, that is, for the whole body, for all its members, the family of your Mother the Church; the badge of membership in this body is love for each other. If you pray only for yourself, you pray for yourself alone. If each one prays for himself he receives less from God’s goodness than the one who prays on behalf of others. But as it is, because each prays for all, all are in fact praying for each one.” He concludes saying, “If you pray for all, all will pray for you, for you are included in all. In this way the intercession of the whole people is gained for each individual.”

The world, our country, and the Church, need a lot of prayer at this time – so “that we may be able to lead quiet and tranquil lives in perfect piety and dignity”. During this month of November, it is all the more important to recall this important principle of prayer for the souls in Purgatory! It is easy to pray for the souls of our dearly beloved, and (if they are still there) they are very grateful and pray in turn for us, but how important to pray for the ones we don’t know who are there – in a word for ALL the souls in Purgatory as the Church herself prays on “All Souls’ Day.” Eternal rest grant unto them all, O Lord!

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