...By Jack Sylva for TDPel Media.
Pope Francis urged Catholics to pray for the unhindered sharing of the Gospel in China during his general audience on May 24.
He specifically mentioned the Church’s observance of the World Day of Prayer for China, which coincides with the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, honored in the Shrine of Our Lady of Sheshan in Shanghai.
Expressing solidarity with Chinese Catholics, the pope emphasized his desire to share in their joys and hopes.
He also extended his thoughts to those experiencing suffering, including pastors and faithful believers, and encouraged them to find solace and encouragement within the communion and solidarity of the Universal Church.
Pope Francis concluded his address by inviting everyone to pray that the good news of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection may be proclaimed in its entirety, beauty, and freedom, and bear fruit for the benefit of the Catholic Church and Chinese society as a whole.
The World Day of Prayer for the Church in China was established by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007.
It takes place on May 24, the feast day of Our Lady, Help of Christians, who is revered as the patroness of China.
In conjunction with the World Day of Prayer for China, Pope Benedict XVI shared the following prayer for Catholics to recite:
Most Holy Virgin, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother, venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title “Help of Christians,” the entire Church in China turns to you with devout affection.
Today, we implore your protection.
Look upon the People of God and, with a mother’s care, guide them on the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.
By obediently uttering “yes” in the house of Nazareth, you allowed the eternal Son of God to take flesh in your virginal womb and initiate the work of our redemption in history.
You willingly and generously collaborated in this work, allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you stood by your Son’s side as He died for our sake.
From that moment on, you became, in a new way, the Mother of all who receive your Son Jesus in faith and choose to follow His footsteps, taking up His Cross.
Mother of hope, on Holy Saturday’s darkened path, you journeyed with unwavering trust toward the dawn of Easter.
Grant that your children may always discern, even in the darkest moments, the signs of God’s loving presence.
Our Lady of Sheshan, strengthen all those in China who, amid their daily trials, persist in faith, hope, and love.
May they never hesitate to proclaim Jesus to the world and the world to Jesus.
In the statue overlooking the Shrine, you raise your Son on high, offering Him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.
Assist Catholics in being credible witnesses to this love, steadfastly clinging to the rock of Peter, on which the Church is built.
Mother of China and all of Asia, pray for us now and forever. Amen!
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