“Ask the Cardinal”

Today I am pleased to introduce a new periodic feature called, “Ask the Cardinal.” When I give talks or visit parishes or schools, occasionally there is the opportunity to take questions from people and I thought it would be helpful to share here some of those that may have universal appeal – questions about the Gospel, the Church, prayer and Catholic teaching, for example. At the same time, readers of this blog can feel free to submit your own questions in the comment section below, and now and then I will endeavor to provide a response.

The first set of questions comes from a group of children I had the pleasure to meet and pray with recently. Perhaps those of you who are parents might share these questions and answers with your own children and, in this way, help them to encounter the Lord and grow in the faith.

Why are the prayers of children important, especially for our Holy Father?

We remember when Pope Francis was elected that one of the first things he did was ask people to pray – to pray for one another, to pray for the world, and to pray for him.

Why is this so important? Prayer is our way of speaking to God. We open our hearts and our minds to God so that we can hear him responding to us with his presence and his love.

We ask him to be with us at home, at school, when we play – every moment of our life. The prayers of children are particularly important because Jesus once reminded his Apostles that they should bring the children to him so that he could hear them and they could learn about him and his love for them.

The prayers of everyone are important but when we join them with others, we show to everyone around us that we place our trust in God, and our love for all those for whom we pray.

The pope is the father of the great Catholic family that we know as the Church. Our Heavenly Father is God but here on earth we have a visible sign of that great spiritual family of which you and I are a part.

We can show our love for our Holy Father by praying for him and asking that God bless his work on behalf of all of us.

This summer at World Youth Day, Pope Francis told young people, “The Church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity, your joy.” How can young Catholics grow in their faith, and help their families and friends grow stronger in faith?

The Church always needs our young people. One of the reasons why the Church is always young is because there is always another generation of young people, of children, who bring their enthusiasm and joy to the work of passing on the faith. One of the things that we can do is learn more about our faith. To be a good missionary of the faith, to be a good follower of Jesus, we have to know his Gospel and we have to know what it is he teaches us so that we can come to know him.

We learn from our parents, our families, we learn from our teachers in Catholic school and in parish religious education programs. We learn from our priests in the parish.

One thing we can do that answers Pope Francis’ call is to take the time to learn more about our faith.

Once as I was preparing to give First Holy Communion to a class, I asked the students who they would receive in Holy Communion.

One student eagerly responded, “Jesus. We will receive Jesus.”

As I thanked her for her correct answer, I asked her, “How did you learn that? How do you know that?” She said with a beautiful smile, “My teachers told me. But I already knew that because mommy and daddy had told me.” And then she added, “And I am going to tell my little brother.”

All of us in our joy and enthusiasm can tell others about our faith. First we have to know it and then we simply have to share it.