On Tuesday 27 November, Bishop Declan launched the Year of Prayer at Clifton Cathedral. In a celebration of evening prayer he presented to each parish, community and school in the diocese the resources for the Year of Prayer starting this Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent.
In his message, Bishop Declan said that although we focus our attention upon prayer, mission is not finished, but we continue to reflect upon mission with a spirit of prayer. He continued to say that prayer is a conversation with God and is a conversation with others. It is not a one-way conversation but that the conversation we have in prayer is one both of speaking but above all of listening.
His full address can be viewed below.
The Year of Prayer is the second of the bishop’s threefold vision of Mission, Prayer and Communion. These will follow the cycle of the Church’s year and begin with the season of Advent.
Year of Mission Advent 2017 – Advent 2018
Year of Prayer Advent 2018 – Advent 2019
Year of Communion Advent 2019 – Advent 2020
Each has its own document with resources and reflections in order to spur us on to more active engagement in the work of Christ. The aim of these three years is to give us the tools we need in order to be able to take a firm grip on the future that the Lord calls us to. The symbol of the anchor, which recurs through-out the document, reminds us that the anchor which holds us fast is the knowledge of God’s love for us.
The Year of Prayer 2018-2019
The Year of Prayer, which we now begin, is not intended to turn us away from mission but to deepen our understanding that it is prayer which gives life and strength to our mission, it is prayer which is the source of our mission.
In the year of mission we were reminded that the source of mission is a renewed personal encounter with Christ. Pope Francis wrote:
‘I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”. The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realise that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms’.
To encounter Christ is to be caught up in a relationship of prayer. We don’t encounter Christ and then later pray – the encounter with Christ is prayer, it is the beginning of our relationship with Christ, which is the essence of prayer.
This booklet is not a treatise on prayer or an introduction to prayer it is rather a resource to help us to reflect on the rich patterns of prayer that already exist in our parishes and communities and a call to deepen that prayer. This resource is to help us reflect on the many ways we already encounter Christ and an invitation to the see the ways in which the Lord invites us to encounter him anew.
The Year of Prayer is intended to call us a to ‘renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ.’ Pope Benedict wrote:
‘Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.’
There are countless ways in which we can encounter Jesus Christ but in this resource we will focus on encountering Christ in personal prayer and in the Liturgy.