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February Papal prayer intentions focus on the family and the sick

February 1, 2011
We Canadians like our summer long weekends.  Once May arrives, we indulge in a monthly long weekend until October! (With the exception of June outside of Quebec.)
In an attempt to satiate our long weekend desires, five provinces have a long weekend in February.  Three of those provinces -- Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan -- celebrate this long weekend as Family Day.  I suppose we don't really need an excuse to take a long weekend, and it could really be 'Any' Day.  But at the same time, we shouldn't need an excuse to celebrate the family or the important role that it plays in society.
The promotion of the family has been a long standing tradition in the Church.  Just three years into his pontificate, the soon to be Blessed John Paul II dedicated an Apostolic Exhortation to the family (Familiaris Consortio, on the Christian family in the modern world -- I recommend reading it, particularly for any newlyweds or new families).  Pope Benedict XVI has spoken many times about the family as well -- in addresses, in homilies on Apostolic Voyages, in letters and messages.
This month, the family takes centre stage as the Holy Father's general intention:
That all may respect the family and recognize its unmatched contribution to the advancement of society.
The Pope's mission intention is well suited for this month, too.  On February 11th we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and recognize the World Day of the Sick. The Pontiff's mission intention is for those suffering from disease:
That the Christian communities may witness to the presence of Christ in serving those who suffer from disease in those mission territories where the fight against disease is most urgent.
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CNS Photo/Paul Haring