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As we now know, Conclave starts next Tuesday 12th March when 115 eligible princes of the Church will gather in the Sistine Chapel to pray and elect a new leader for the Catholic Church from among their number. The process can last from a few days up to, on one occasion, three years!

The world’s media is watching and a number of ‘favourites’ have been put forward as the main contenders to wear the fisherman’s shoes and follow in the footsteps of Peter.

Views have been expressed on the type of person we would like to see leading our Church in what has been a difficult and traumatic time for the faithful and its shepherds. No-one envies the task that the chief shepherd will have to undertake but we are reminded constantly that our true shepherd, Jesus Christ is with us and that we can call upon the power of the Holy Spirit to guide us.

With that firmly in mind, I urge everyone reading this post to look at the list of cardinals who are involved in this process, to consider each candidate prayerfully and to adopt one candidate to pray for. There may be two sides to this prayer; one to pray that the candidate himself, if elected, will work in the power of the Holy Spirit to guide and minister to the Church and second that he himself will pray hard and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in electing the man whom God has already chosen to be the servant of the servants.

As lay people, we often feel powerless in our Church but this is because we have forgotten the power of our own prayers. So from Tuesday morning until the moment the white smoke appears from the chimney on the Sistine Chapel roof, direct all your prayers to this single purpose and thereafter, pray for the new Pope everyday.

“Father in heaven, guide Cardinal (name) in his spiritual duty to elect your successor to Peter and grant the new Pope every blessing as he undertakes your will and guides your Church on earth through stormy waters. We know Lord, that even when you are sleeping, you are with us and we are reminded that you sent your Holy Spirit to empower us to spread the Good News throughout the world. Amen”