Suffering, persecution, genocide, torture, violence: These are not new concepts. But in a time with up-to-the-minute, global news, most people are well aware of just all the evil lurking in the world. But what can be done?

The role of prayer is often dismissed. Why pray when you can take action? This absence in a belief that prayer is powerful might as well be an absence in a belief in God.

In the first chapter of Acts, Jesus calls on his apostles to not leave Jerusalem but to wait for “the promise of the Father.” (Acts 1:4) This promise is baptism by the Holy Spirit. The days following Jesus’s ascension into heaven, the apostles gathered in their upper room in the city along with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and other men and women. They prayed. For nine days, they prayed and on the 10th day, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and the church was created.

The Catholic tradition of nine days of focused prayer dates back to the third century. When Catholics pray novenas today, they wait, like the apostles did, for an answer from God to their petition. Parishes like Sacred Heart in Newport can take up this call and pray novenas for world peace.

In this time of trouble, perhaps all Catholics can do is pray. And as the formation of the church can attest, prayer is a powerful tool.