Friday, March 5, 2010

Women's World Day of Prayer - First Friday - Anniversary of Georges Vanier's Death

2010 World Day of Prayer's Themes: Friday, March 5, 2010 - The women of Cameroon invite us to come with them to the Land Of Promise, Land Of Glory; to come together with confidence: Let Everything That Has Breath, Praise God.

The World Day of Prayer is observed annually on the first Friday in March. It is an invitation for Christians to pause and pray together ecumenically. This day of prayer is sponsored by the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada and its national counterparts around the world. In Canada, Catholics are members of the national council of the WICC as well as many local councils across the country.

A report from Wikipedia: The Women's World Day of Prayer started in the USA in 1884. When Mary Ellen James called for a day of prayer in 1887, she was not planning a great worldwide movement, destined to become the largest ecumenical movement in the world organised and led by women. She was simply reacting, as a Christian, to the society in which she lived.

The wife of a Presbyterian minister in New York and the mother of seven children, Mary Ellen was aware of the problems faced by many women around her, particularly new immigrants to America - the awful slums with their poverty, unemployment, poor housing, lack of health or educational facilities. Something had to be done.

Two years later, two Baptists called together a Day of Prayer for the World Mission. The Day of Prayer initiated by these two women expanded to neighboring countries, then on to Europe and other continents. Since 1927 the day is known as Women’s World Day of Prayer.

Aims: Through the World Day of Prayer, women are encouraged to become aware of the other countries and cultures and no longer live in isolation. They are also encouraged take up the burdens of other people, to sympathize with the problems of other countries and cultures and pray with and for them. They are further encouraged to become aware of their talents and use them in the service of society. The World Day of Prayer aims to demonstrate that prayer and action are inseparable and that both have immeasurable influence in the world.

Program: Every year, worship service focuses on a different country and a specific theme. World Day of Prayer National/Regional Committees of that country prepare the order of worship on these themes to be used on the next World Day of Prayer.

On the first Friday of March, then, in services all over the world that country becomes the focus of prayer and understanding. Through preparation and participation in the worship service, women worldwide learn how their sisters of other countries, languages and cultures understand the biblical passages in their context. They learn of the concerns and needs of those women and to empathize and feel in solidarity with them.

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Lenten Prayer over the People

Grant to your people, Lord, we pray, health of mind and body, that by constancy in good deeds they may always merit the defense of your protection. Through Christ our Lord.

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The purpose of the Apostleship of Prayer, which fosters devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus particulary through the Morning Offering and the First Friday, is described in the following terms:

Since 1844 our mission has been to help Christians live out their desire to serve God with their whole lives and their whole selves. God asks us all to pray for ourselves and for others.

To make ourselves a living sacrifice and to pray without ceasing for all the needs of the Church and for the whole world.

Since the nineteenth century popes have asked the Apostleship of Prayer to pray for specific intentions. We receive two prayer intentions each month from the Holy Father, pledging ourselves to pray for them every day.

In 2006, the board of the Apostleship of Prayer approved this directive statement:

The mission of the Apostleship of Prayer is to encourage Christians to make a daily offering of themselves to the Lord for the coming of God's Kingdom and for the Holy Father's monthly intentions.

This habit of prayer encourages a Eucharistic spirituality of solidarity with the Body of Christ and loving service to others. Nourishing this spiritual program is the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

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Georges-Phileas Vanier (Governor General of Canada: September 15, 1959-March 5, 1967)

One of the notable events in Canada's 1967 Centennial Year was the death on this day of the Queen's representative. Georges and Madame Pauline Vanier were a distinguished couple who stretched our understanding of the bilingual, bicultural aspect of Canada by their kind manner.

From the Wikipedia treatment of GPV:

Upon taking up residence at Rideau Hall, Vanier asked that a bilingual sign be placed at the main gates to the royal and viceroyal residence, and that a chapel for offering Mass be constructed somewhere on the property, two requests that reflected two dominant forces in Vanier's life: religion and unity.

When he was in residence, Vanier would pray twice daily in the chapel that was eventually fit into the palace's second floor, and, at a time when the Canadian federation was under threat from separatist factions in Quebec, Vanier delivered numerous speeches, in both French and English, and infused with words praising the co-habitation of Anglophone and Francophone Canadians; in one of the last orations he gave, he said:

"The road of unity is the road of love: love of one's country and faith in its future will give new direction and purpose to our lives, lift us above our domestic quarrels, and unite us in dedication to the common good... I pray God that we may all go forward hand in hand. We can't run the risk of this great country falling into pieces."


  1. Does anyone know the status of Vanier's canonization cause? I recall a postulator was apppointed some time ago.

  2. The WICC collects large amounts of money from the "world day of prayer", most of which is used in salaries for their administration staff (information obtained from Revenue Canada). The WICC is a member of the World Council of Churches, a somewhat radical group not sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church. The WICC sponsers various groups and meetings which advocate homosexual agendas and promote the rights of women to be priests in the Catholic church. The agenda of the WICC world day of prayer last year specifically named certain Canadian mining companies which they accuse of exploitation and environmental degredation in a third world country. Roman Catholic participation in the WICC is comprised of one representative from the Legion of Mary who is not aware of the organizations affiliations and activities. A representative from the CCCB who was contacted by me, knew nothing about the WICC. I would suggest that in the future, the activities of the WICC should be examined before they are allowed to use our churches to promote their cause and to raise money.

  3. As the Spiritual Director for the Legion of Mary Ontario Senatus, I must correct a statement that John Grant made in his comment on the WICC above. The Legion of Mary has absolutely no affiliation with the WICC. No Legion of Mary member or associate is authorized to represent the Legion of Mary at the WICC.