The moment I read the resources for the preparation of World Day of Prayer 2019, what immediately struck me was their suitability for vocational discernment, subject of the “Final Document of the Synod of Bishops on Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment” (2018).
These global resources have potential to touch the heart of the vocation of the international Company of the Daughters of Charity: “Given to God, in community, for the service of the poor.” The motto for the World Day of Prayer is “Informed Prayer and Intentional Action which is music to the ears of a Daughter of Charity! The aim of this annual day is to bring Christians of many traditions together to observe a common day of prayer. Its tradition gives the occasion credibility.
Collaboration is at the heart of the World Day of Prayer. A different participating country writes the service annually. This year, the Roma women from Slovenia, a Central European country, tell their life stories. The Word of God is central to the prayer service. The 2019 theme, “Come–Everything is Ready!” is taken from the parable of the Great Feast (Luke 14:16-24). The daily Gospel inspires and enlivens the personal and collective mission of the Daughters of Charity. This theme, invitational in tone, is key to God’s call. God calls and the faith response is trust.
Rezka Arnus, an artist, painted an image of the theme in which Slovenia, its people, and its culture are represented. All are welcome to come to the space at the table where everything is ready. The parable prompts us continually to “open our hearts and our homes to offer a place to those who are not yet at the table.” Questions such as “Who is not at your table yet?” “Who is not at your World Day of Prayer service…yet?” challenge us to do more than what St. Vincent and St. Louise ask of us. Our challenge is to widen the pegs of our tent.
The Inter-Assembles Document (2015-2021), written for the Daughters of Charity around the world, invites us to “…dare generously: to open up our local communities to young people in order to offer opportunities for sharing, for prayer, and concrete service of persons who are poor; to accompany them and to reflect with them on their experiences of faith and service.”
These resources can enhance the work of vocational discernment, including the call to holiness of which Pope Francis writes. The music chosen echoes the themes of hospitality and inclusiveness.
Faith formation is significant with a children’s service included. Prior to reading the parable of the Great Banquet, the children chat about celebrations. They can also make their own speech bubble “excuse” cards.
Daughters of Charity recall Our Lady’s mission to St. Catherine Laboure about youth and faith formation in the New Association of the Children of Mary, popularly known as The Vincentian Marian Youth. Families hold a prominent place in the World Day of Prayer. Chapter three of the Synod Document refers to “the family and intergenerational relations.” Though Pope Francis claims that “perfect families do not exist,” he recognised that “families are the glue of society.” The “domestic church” invites families to grow in God’s love.
On March 1, we look forward to celebrating the World Day of Prayer in Ireland.
Written by Sister Anne Neylon, D.C. (Dublin, Ireland).