Today on the great Feast of the Annunciation, at 11am UK time, Pope Francis will pray the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples – almost certainly the first prayer many of us learned as children – and wants Christians and all people of good will to pray with him.
We pray the Lord’s Prayer – the ‘Our Father’ – for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and to offer prayerful support to the health care staff and other key workers who are tirelessly keeping the wheels rolling for so many of us in isolation.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, from his private chapel in Westminster, prays the Lord’s Prayer and offers his thoughts on the great Feast of the Annunciation – when the angel Gabriel was sent from God to the Virgin Mary, at Nazareth, to tell her that she will bring forth a son and call Him Jesus.
Today is the great Feast of the Annunciation – the moment when the Angel Gabriel came to Mary and presented to her the Word of God, which she accepted with an open heart and to which she gave her flesh in the incarnation.
Today, then, is the day of the first joys of Mary. And we turn to her not only as our Mother of Sorrows, but also as our mother of joys.
Now, today, Pope Francis has asked Christians right around the world to pray with him at midday in Rome, which is eleven o’clock here, to pray the Our Father with him for the health of the world for our strength against this virus and for our healing.
So please pray with me now:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Today, another prayer has been offered to us as well from the bishops of the continent of Europe – a continent in which this virus is biting so deeply now.
So let me read for you this prayer – a prayer for our protection and indeed for our help:
God, Our Father,
Creator of the world, almighty and merciful.
Out of love for us, you sent your son into the world
as the doctor of our souls and bodies.
Look upon your children,
who in this difficult time of confusion and dismay
in many regions of Europe and the world
turn to you seeking strength, salvation and relief.
Deliver us from illness and fear,
comfort our sick and their families
give wisdom to our rulers,
energy and reward to our doctors,
nurses and volunteers,
and eternal life to those who have died.
Do not abandon us in this moment of trial,
But deliver us from all evil.
We ask this of you who with the Son and the Holy Spirit,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Mary, Mother of Health and Hope,
Pray for us.