Dear Brothers,

Today, I asked our Communications Office to issue a press release announcing my call for common prayer and the ringing of church bells five times a day. My hope is that people will have the experience of being united in prayer, especially at a time when we are isolated. By pausing and lifting up in prayer all those affected by the pandemic, we can offer those in need our support and let them know that they are not alone.  The prayer times will begin this Saturday, March 21, at 9:00 a.m. and continue every three hours each day, with the last bells rung at 9:00 p.m. Each of the five prayer times will be dedicated to a specific group particularly impacted by the pandemic, as listed below.

Because some churches do not have bells, we could invite parishioners to set their alarms so that they can stop for a moment to join in this common prayer. We will provide short prayer intentions on our website and social media pages in three languages – English, Spanish and Polish. The special intention for each hour will be announced on the archdiocesan website and on our Twitter accounts.

Beginning Saturday, March 21, the prayers and intentions for each hour of prayer are below:

9:00 a.m. – Prayer for those infected with the virus and all who are ill

Lord, place your healing hand on those who suffer illness. Bring them to full health and ease their anxious hearts.  May our prayer and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary encourage them that they are not alone. We ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN

12:00 p.m. – Prayer for health care workers and those attending to the sick

Lord, we are ennobled by those who put their lives at risk in caring for the sick. Keep them safe and embolden them when they are weary. We ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN

3:00 p.m. – Prayer for first responders and essential workers

Lord, we pray for those who run to danger to keep us safe and those who serve the common good. Embrace them with your mantle of protection and comfort the fears of their families. We ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN

6:00 p.m. – Prayer for people of every nation and their leaders

Lord, the pandemic opens our eyes to see each other as brothers and sisters in one human family. We pray for people of every nation and their leaders, asking that they be inspired to seek the good of all and quell the voices of division. We ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN

9:00 p.m. – Prayer for those who have died today

Lord, we grieve the passing of our sisters and brothers who have died this day. We commend them to your tender mercy, confident that nothing, not even death, will separate us from your love. We ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN

Again, I am motivated to offer this additional means of uniting our people in prayer aware of the feeling of isolation they feel in not being together in the Eucharist and out of concern for their suffering. You surely are free to encourage additional prayers for your parishioners at these various times, such as the Angelus at noon and 6:00 pm or the rosary during the day. I am sure that our people will welcome any assistance we give them and any effort that lets them know we have not forgotten them.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich