Year of Prayer: Pope Francis to set up 'School of Prayer'

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

On Sunday, Pope Francis inaugurated a Year of Prayer ahead of the 2025 Jubilee, calling on the faithful “to pray more fervently to prepare ourselves to live properly this grace-filled event and to experience the power of hope in God.”

The Year of Prayer, the Holy Father explained, is dedicated “to rediscovering the great value and absolute need for prayer, prayer in personal life, in the life of the Church, prayer in the world.”

The Holy See Press Office presented the Year of Prayer on Tuesday at a press conference held by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, Pro-Prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelisation, and Monsignor Graham Bell, Undersecretary of the Dicastery, whose Section is in charge of coordinating the Year of Prayer.

Availability to Episcopal Conferences, Diocesan Jubilee representatives

The Dicastery for Evangelization will release materials to help the faithful celebrate the Year, and underscored its availability to Bishops’ Conferences and Diocesan Jubilee representatives to provide further clarifications.

Archbishop Fisichella presented the Dicastery’s readiness to support this Year of Prayer, saying the work to prepare for Holy Year 2025 continues.

With the Holy Year approaching, pilgrims can learn more about the upcoming Jubilee Year at the Jubilee website www.iubilaeum2025.va, and through the App, said the Archbishop.

Rediscovering our need for daily prayer

The Year of Prayer, Archbishop Fisichella noted, “is not a Year marked with particular initiatives; rather, it is a privileged time in which to rediscover the value of prayer and the need for daily prayer in our Christian life.”

“It’s a privileged time in which to rediscover the value of prayer and the need for daily prayer in our Christian life.”

The Year, he said, is “a time to discover how to pray and, above all, how to educate the people of today in prayer, in this age of digital culture, so that prayer can be effective and fruitful.”

“We cannot deny,” said the Archbishop, “the fact that our time manifests a profound need for spirituality.”

“From those who quickly make the Sign of the Cross to those who participate in the daily Eucharist, there is such a vast range of ways of praying that no one can fully describe them all; they can range from quick to distracted prayer to contemplative prayer to prayer filled with tears of pain,” he said.

Prayer cannot be captured in a pre-established pattern, Archbishop Fisichella recognized, “because it is a manifestation of the believer’s personal relationship with God Himself within that intimate and exclusive relationship that distinguishes our faith.”

Prayer that nourishes our faith

The Year of Prayer, he said, “fits into this context as a way of fostering our relationship with the Lord, offering moments of genuine spiritual rest. It is like an oasis sheltered from daily stress where prayer becomes nourishment for the Christian life of faith, hope, and charity.”

For this reason, the Dicastery for Evangelisation has prepared a series of materials and prayer aids for the coming months that can constitute a “symphony” of prayer forms that the Christian community and individual believers can use.

As Pope Francis writes in the introduction to the first volume of the “Notes on Prayer” series: “Prayer is the breath of faith; it is its most proper expression. Like a cry that issues from the heart of those who believe and entrust themselves to God.”

“It will not be a year which hinders initiatives of the local Churches,” the Archbishop highlighted. “Rather, it should be seen as a period in which every planned initiative is supported effectively, precisely because it has prayer as its foundation.”

“Therefore, we should not expect a series of specific events,” he clarified, “but rather ideas and suggestions, so that the prayer of the Church can once again reinvigorate and leave its mark on the life of every baptized person.”

Ways to accompany meditation

Archbishop Fisichella went on to suggest two ways to accompany our meditation and reading in order to better understand the value of prayer.

He held up the example of the 38 catechetical talks that Pope Francis gave from 6 May 2020 to 16 June 2021, which consider the various forms of prayer, saying they can be re-read, as they contain many useful suggestions. Second, he said his Dicastery is preparing a series of volumes entitled “Notes on Prayer”.

Series of eight volumes

Monsignor Graham Bell went on to further describe the Dicastery’s current projects to prepare for and support this Year of Prayer.

“The Vatican Publishing House (LEV), is publishing, starting today,” he announced, “a series of small texts that delve into the various dimensions of the Christian act of praying,” signed by authors of international renown, edited by the Dicastery for Evangelization – Section for Fundamental Questions regarding Evangelization in the World.

This series, consisting of eight volumes, he noted, is made available to the various Bishops’ Conferences to offer a useful aid to help the faithful enter further into the intelligence of prayer.

The first book, explained Msgr. Bell, is Praying Today. A Challenge to Be Overcome (LEV, pp. 110, euro 8.50), with a preface by Pope Francis, is authored by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, one of the best-known authors of spirituality, who previously served as Vicar General of Vatican City and Archpriest of St. Peter’s.

The text, available in bookstores starting January 23, he explained, offers reminders of the need for prayer and teachings for having “a different gaze and a different heart” by highlighting figures who have testified to the fruitfulness of prayer, such as St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Francis of Assisi, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

‘With God, everything is possible’

In the preface, Msgr. Bell noted, Pope Francis recalls that “prayer is the breath of faith; it is its most proper expression. Like a silent cry that comes forth from the heart of those who believe and entrust themselves to God.”

Cardinal Comastri, Monsignor Bell acknowledged, says that “only prayer gives space to God in our lives and in the history of the world: and with God everything is possible.”

Seven more volumes will be published in the near future, including: Gianfranco Ravasi, Praying with the Psalms (February 2024); Juan López Vergara, The Prayer of Jesus (February 2024); Paul Murray, OP, Praying with Saints and Sinners (March 2024); Antonio Pitta, Parables on Prayer (March 2024); Carthusian Monks, The Church in Prayer (March 2024); Catherine Aubin, The Prayer of Mary and the Saints (April 2024); Ugo Vanni, The Prayer Jesus Taught Us: The ‘Our Father’ (April 2024).

Pope Francis and the ‘School of Prayer’

Together with these resources, the Dicastery for Evangelisation will prepare pastoral aids that present anew the various expressions of prayer in the community, in the family, for priests, cloistered nuns, sanctuaries, and young people.

Archbishop Fisichella said these are “not new prayers, but help us live with greater awareness of the need for daily prayer.”

The Pope himself, during this year, they announced, will set up a “School of Prayer.”

“This School,” Archbishop Fisichella explained, “will be a series of moments of encounter with specific groups of people to pray together and better understand the various forms of prayer: from thanksgiving to intercession; from contemplative prayer to the prayer of consolation; from adoration to supplication.”

The Vatican officials concluded by recalling Pope Francis’ words: “I am certain that bishops, priests, deacons, and catechists will find in this year appropriate ways to place prayer at the heart of the proclamation of hope that the 2025 Jubilee will make resound in this troubled time.”