Enter “The Way of the Heart”. It is the formation program of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network—The Apostleship of Prayer. It is a program which draws our heart to be nearer to the Heart of Jesus, to align our hearts with His heart’s sentiments, desires and yearnings. It invites us to unite ourselves to the mission which Jesus received from the Father. Being friends of Jesus, deeply united to Him, perceiving His joys and sufferings for the world, the program leads us to commit ourselves with Him to take up the challenges that confront humanity and the mission of the Church. Every month the Pope articulates these challenges through his intentions, and his intentions help us to understand the mission of Christ in our day. The “Way of the Heart” helps us, then, to recognize the challenges of the world with the eyes of Jesus, to mobilize us each month, docile to the Holy Spirit, for prayer and service. It is thus that the program transforms us daily and deeper into praying-apostles and disciple-missionaries, for a mission of compassion for the world.
1. In the beginning there was Love
“I have loved you with everlasting love…” (Jeremiah 31:3) The first and most enduring word in our life of faith is the Father’s everlasting love. This is what he is continuously saying to us and what we fathom in all he does for us each day: I love you. It is his essence, “God is love” (1 John 4:8); he cannot not love us. LOVE is the way in which the Lord looks at us always, regardless of the course our life has taken–even if we have strayed away from him because of our sin. His love is unconditional and notwithstanding. It is the principle and the foundation of our spiritual way. Our life starts by his love, is sustained by it, and one day will be received by that love. To acknowledge his love gives us the chance to love him in return.
2. The human heart, restless and needy
“God, you are my God, I pine for you; my heart thirsts for you, as a land parched, dreary and waterless.” (Psalm 63:1) We yearn for happiness and seek it in a multitude of ways. God gave us the capacity to love and to live generously. But many times we feel poor and lost, burdened with frustrations and deep desires, unable to solve our personal crisis and find inner peace. A pathway of faith, prayer and life for seekers, for those in spiritual need and for all who desire to receive Jesus Christ in their hearts is proposed here. It is the way of the humble, where our weakness of heart will not be a hindrance, but rather, our greatest asset, for the encounter with a God who leans toward the poor.
3. In a broken world
My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. (Jeremiah 2:13) We contemplate in admiration the beauty of our world and the great deeds accomplished by the human mind throughout history. But the world we share is wounded by painful contradictions that cause death and suffering. Life and love are often suffocated by violence and selfishness. The weak and vulnerable are crushed by the boots of the powerful. Natural resources are depleted. There is too much sadness and loneliness. However, in the cry for peace and justice, we hear the Father’s voice calling us to return to him. We have walked away from the paths of the Lord and from his project for humanity.
4. The Father sends his Son to save
“See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? ” (Isaiah 43:19) The Father has not forsaken us in this broken world. He has spoken of his love many times and in various ways through the prophets, and now, in these final times he has spoken to us by his Son made man, Jesus, the Christ (cf. Hebrews 1:1). In Him, the Father has joined our history to his own history in order to restore creation and heal our wounded humanity. In Him, who gave his life for us and whom the Father rose from the dead, he has forgiven our sins. In Him, God’s passionate love comes forth, determined to save us. With Him we learn to recognize the Spirit of God working in this world, bringing forth something new, even in the midst of suffering and difficulties.
5. He calls us his friends
“I have called you by your name, you are mine. Do not be afraid… since I regard you as precious, since you are honored and I love you.” (Isaiah 43: 1 and 4) Jesus Christ calls us his friends and invites us to a personal and intimate covenant of love with him. He is alive to intercede for us, actively drawing us to him. He sees us as a precious treasure of his heart. Friendship with him will make us see the world with his eyes, we will be one with his joys and sufferings, and we will offer ourselves to work with him for our brothers and sisters.
6. Christ abides in us
“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.” (John 14:20) Out of his unlimited love for us, God desires to inhabit our hearts. Jesus left this surprising promise to his disciples before his death. He wants to dwell in each one of us. Saint Paul gives witness to this by saying it is no longer he, but Christ living in him. This is the ultimate horizon towards which the Spirit leads us in our life of faith. He seeks to conform the Christian to Christ in body, soul and spirit. We long for this, and we ask for this with a humble heart, knowing we will never accomplish it through our own efforts. We believe this conformation with Christ is given to us in a privileged way through the Eucharist.
7. We offer our lives along with Him
“This poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. … She, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”(Mark 12:43-44) To come closer to Christ leads us to give our lives for others, as He did. We learn that in spite of our weakness and limitations, our life is useful to others. Knowing ourselves loved, chosen, and inhabited by Him dignifies us, fills us with gratitude, and enables us to respond to so much good received by offering our own life in apostolic readiness.
8. A mission of compassion
“He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted” (Isaiah 61:1) God, the Father of Jesus and our Father, wishes to make his compassion present in the world in and through us, his disciples. We are invited to make our own the Father’s loving gaze upon humanity and to act with the Heart of Jesus Christ. Through both prayer and concrete actions, we can join people from different cultures and religious traditions, people open to this Spirit, and work to relieve the suffering of those most in need.
9. A world-wide network of prayer and service attentive to the needs of humanity
“No peace for you, as you keep the Lord’s attention! And give him no peace either … until saving justice dawns like a bright light, and salvation like a blazing torch.” (Isaiah 62:1.6-7) The Apostleship of Prayer is a worldwide prayer network to the service of the Pope’s monthly prayer intentions. These intentions are seen as actual challenges for humanity and for the Church, as they express the Holy Father’s concerns in today’s world. We want them to orient our action and our prayer during that month. This network is formed by those who make themselves available to collaborate in Christ’s mission through the daily offering of their lives, in any place or situation they may be. I want to join the Network