By: Deacon Charles Rohrbacher
This January 7th through the 13th, the Catholic Church in the United States celebrates National Migration Week. This annual observance is intended to help bring to our attention the often-time desperate and dangerous circumstances of those in our world who are on the move. They come as refugees, individuals and families forced out of their homes and communities by conflict, war and persecution. Or as migrants, impoverished families and individuals uprooted by droughts, famine or natural disasters or in search of a better life. Migration Week is also intended to put a human face on refugees and migrants, so that instead of viewing them as a threat or a danger, we can see them as brothers and sisters in need.
Migration Week begins on the Epiphany, when we contemplate both the search of the Magi for the newborn King and how the Holy Family was forced to flee to Egypt to escape death at the hands of King Herod. The Magi remind us that we are part of a global Church made up of every nation and people.
But the flight into Egypt is a sobering reminder that Jesus and his parents were themselves refugees in desperate need of shelter, safety and hospitality. It is difficult for me to think about Jesus, Mary and Joseph without seeing the faces of the refugees and the migrants from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Myanmar, Africa or Central America, who are in so much peril and like the Holy Family are hoping and praying that someone, somewhere will have mercy on them.
The scale of the catastrophe is overwhelming – as of last year there were an estimated 65 million refugees in our world, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the worst refugee crisis since World War II . In the face of such numbers the temptation is either paralysis or even worse, indifference. None of us has the solution to this truly global crisis, but we can all find ways to help in our own small way, to learn, to advocate, to give and above all to pray.
For this reason I’m sharing this very modest (and absolutely unofficial) little rosary again, which I began praying during the Year of Mercy. It is a personal meditation on the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt and is a little way to intercede for refugees and migrants and those who are working on their behalf.
Each of the five prayer intentions have provided me a way of being in solidarity in prayer with their plight, helping me to resist what Pope Francis calls “the globalization of indifference” and to ask God to open my heart to them.
There are as many different ways to pray as there are different people. These meditations or even the rosary may not be the right fit for your prayer. But I would invite you, whatever your approach is, to pray during this year for refugees and migrants.
The flight into Egypt: A Rosary for Refugees and migrants
1. Herod Orders the Massacre of the Innocents
When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all of the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and younger. (Matthew 2:16a)
Loving Savior, our Refuge and our Hope, we pray for an end to all war and persecution, especially in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Myanmar; for all those who have lost their lives violently; and all those, especially children, whose bodies, minds and spirits have been wounded by conflict, violence, family separation and exploitation. Our Father…
2. In a Dream the Angel Warns Joseph to Flee with the holy Family
Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said: ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.’ (Matthew 2:13)
Loving Savior, our Refuge and our Hope, we pray for all of our brothers and sisters, especially in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Africa and Myanmar who have been driven out of their homes and native lands or who have had to abandon their families, friends and neighbors, homes and livelihoods in search of safety, asylum, food and shelter. Our Father…
3. The Holy Family Makes the Perilous Journey to Egypt
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. (Matthew 2:14)
Loving Savior, our Refuge and our Hope, we pray for all refugees and migrants, especially from Syria, Iraq, Africa and Central America who risk their lives crossing through conflict zones, deserts and the open ocean in search of safety and asylum. Protect all refugees and migrants, especially women and girls, from rape, trafficking, extortion and other forms of exploitation. Our Father…
4. Jesus, Mary and Joseph Find Refuge Among the Egyptians
[Jesus] stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Matthew 2:15
Loving Savior, our Refuge and our Hope, bless all of those nations, communities and organizations that are providing asylum and aid to refugees and migrants. Strengthen and sustain all those who work to care for, assist and welcome them. Our Father…
5. The Holy Family Returns to Nazareth
When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said: “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. (Matthew 2:1-21)
Loving Savior, our Refuge and our Hope, we pray that all refugees and migrants, especially from Syria, Iraq, Myanmar, Yemen and Africa may one day return home to live in peace, tranquility and safety or be able to make a new life in a country that offers them asylum. Our Father…
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet, Virgin Mary.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R./ That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray. Almighty and everlasting God, who by the working of the Holy Spirit did prepare both the body and soul of the glorious Virgin Mother Mary, that she might deserve to be made a worthy dwelling for Thy Son, grant that we who rejoice in her memory, may, by her loving intercession, be delivered from present evils and from everlasting death, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.