Prayer

Prayer - Pope Francis    


Jesus’ wounds are still present on this earth. If we are to recognize them we must come out of ourselves and reach out to our needy brethren, to the sick, the ignorant, the poor and the exploited.

“It means coming out of ourselves”, made possible by
prayer, “to the Father in the name of Jesus”. Instead the prayer that “bores us” is “always within us, like a thought that comes and goes, but true prayer is... an exodus from ourselves towards the Father, made “with the intercession of Jesus”.

But how can we recognize Jesus’ wounds? How can we trust in them if we cannot identify them? “Unless we can come out of ourselves towards those wounds, we shall never learn the freedom that brings us to the other way out of ourselves, through the wounds of Jesus”.

The first is “towards the wounds of Jesus, the other is towards the wounds of our brothers and sisters. And this is the path that Jesus wants us to take in prayer”. “If you ask anything of the Father he will give it to you in my name” (Jn16: 23-28). Jesus is disarmingly clear. In these words there is something new, “in my name”.

What does “in my name” mean? It is a new element which Jesus reveals at the Ascension. Jesus, in rising to the Father, left the door open. Not because “he forgot to close it”, but because “he himself is the door”. It is he, our intercessor; so he says: “in my name”. In our prayers let us ask the Father in Jesus’ name: “Look at your Son and do this for me!



“Why could we not cast it out? This kind of demon, Jesus says, cannot be driven out by anything but prayer”.

The father of the child “said: Lord I believe, help my unbelief”. His was “a strong prayer; and that prayer, humble and strong, moves Jesus to work the miracle. A prayer that calls for an extraordinary action must be a prayer that involves all of us, as though our very life depends on it. In prayer, you have to put yourself to the test”.

“Miracles happen. But they need prayer! A courageous prayer, that struggles for that miracle. Not like those prayers of courtesy: Ah, I will pray for you! Followed by one Our Father, a Hail Mary and then I forget. No! It takes a brave prayer like that of Abraham who was struggling with the Lord to save the city, like that of Moses who prayed, his hands held high when he grew weary...”.

Prayer works miracles, but we must believe it. I think that we can say a beautiful prayer, not a polite prayer, but a prayer from the heart, and tell him today throughout the whole day: Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief.


Pope Francis     05.6.13   Holy Mass Santa Marta      Tobit 3:1-11,16-17,    Mark 12:18-27 

Tobit and Sarah; they do not curse but they complain.
Lamenting to God is not a sin. A priest that I know once said to a woman who complained to God about her misfortunes: ‘Madam, that is a kind of
prayer, go ahead. The Lord feels and hears our lamentations’.
Job and of Jeremiah also lamented by cursing, not the Lord but the situation. Moreover, expressing sorrow “is human”, also because there are many people who are in these situations of existential
suffering. Referring to a photo of a malnourished child on the cover of the Italian daily edition of L’Osservatore Romano. How many are there like this? Are we thinking about Syria, refugees and the others?. Are we thinking about hospitals, those suffering terminal illness?

In Mark’s Gospel (12:18-27). The Sadducees turned to Jesus and presented the woman like in a laboratory, very ascetic, a moral case. Instead when we speak about these people who are in these extreme situations, we must do so with our hearts close to them. We must think about these people, whose suffering is so great, with our heart and with our flesh.

In the Church there are many people in this situation and according to Jesus we must pray for them. These suffering people, must enter my heart, they must be an anxiety for me. My suffering brother, my suffering sister. This is the mystery of the communion of saints. Praying: Lord look at he who cries and suffers. Let us pray, if I may say, with our flesh, not with ideas, pray with your heart.    


Pope Francis   20.06.13 Holy Mass Santa Marta       Matthew 6: 7-15

In order to
pray, there is no need to make noise or believe that that it is better to use more words. There is no need to trust in noise, the noise of worldliness which Jesus pointed out, “to sound the trumpet” or “making oneself seen while fasting”. To pray there is no need to heap up empty phrases: Jesus called this a characteristic of pagans.

Praying is not something magic; one doesn't practice magic with prayer. I never turned to sorcerers who promise magic; in meetings of this sort: many words are used to obtain 'healing one time and at another time something else' with the help of magic. However, this is pagan.

So how should we pray? Jesus has taught us: he says that the Father who is in heaven 'knows what you need before you ask him. Therefore, let our first word be 'Father’. This is the key to prayer. Without speaking, without feeling this word, praying is not possible. To whom do I pray? The almighty God? He is too far away. I don't feel him; neither did Jesus feel him. To whom do I pray? The God of the cosmos? This is quite frequent nowadays, isn’t it? Praying to the cosmic God. This polytheistic model comes with a superficial culture.

Rather, we must pray to the Father, who begot us. But this is not all: we must pray “our” Father, that is, not the Father of a generic and too anonymous “all”, but the One “who begot you, who gave you life, who gave life to you and me”.





This is a true example of familiarity and respect for God. Abraham was more than 100 years old. He had been conversing with the Lord for a good 25 years and was well acquainted with him and so could ask the Lord “what to do with that sinful city”. Abraham feels “strong enough to speak to the Lord face to face and seeks to defend the city. He is insistent”.

The first thing we notice in the Bible, is the affirmation that “
prayer must be courageous”. When we speak of courage “we always think of apostolic courage” that spurs us “to go and preach the Gospel”. But there is also courage in standing before the Lord... in going bravely to the Lord to ask him things”. Abraham insists and “from 50, he manages to get the price down to 10”, although he knows it is impossible to save sinful cities from punishment.

How often we must have found ourselves praying for someone. But if a person wants the Lord to grant a grace he must go courageously and do what Abraham did with insistence, Jesus himself tells us we must pray like this. Abraham had been with the Lord for 25 years, he had acquired familiarity with him so he dared to embark on this form of prayer. Insistence, courage. It is tiring, true, but this is prayer. This is what receiving a grace from God is.

He does not say ‘poor things, they will be burned.... but ‘forgive them’. Do you want to do this? You who are so good, do you want to do the same to the wicked as to the righteous? Of course not! He takes the arguments of God’s own heart. “Convince the Lord with the virtues of the Lord and this is beautiful”.

The suggestion is to go to the Lord’s heart. Jesus teaches us: the Father knows things. Do not worry, the Father sends rain on the righteous and on sinners, he causes the sun to rise on the righteous and on sinners.

I would like us all to take up the Bible, starting today, and to recite slowly Psalm 103[102]: ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul’.... Pray it all and in this way we will learn what to say to the Lord when we ask for a grace.




Pope Francis      21.07.13   Angelus, St Peter's Square     16th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year C      Luke 10: 38-42

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

This Sunday we continue reading the 10 chapters of the Evangelist Luke. The passage today is that on Martha and Mary. Who are these two women? Martha and Mary, sisters of Lazarus, are the relatives and faithful disciples of the Lord, who lived in Bethany. St Luke describes them in this way: Mary, at the feet of Jesus, “listened to his teaching”, while Martha was burdened with much serving (cf. Lk 10:39-40). Both welcome the Lord on his brief visit, but they do so differently. Mary sets herself at the feet of Jesus to listen but Martha lets herself become absorbed in preparing everything, and so much so that she says to Jesus: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me” (v. 40). And Jesus answers scolding her sweetly: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing” (v. 41).

What does Jesus mean? What is this one thing that we need? First of all, it is important to understand that this is not about two contradictory attitudes:
listening to the word of the Lord, contemplation, and practical service to our neighbour. These are not two attitudes opposed to one another, but, on the contrary, they are two essential aspects in our Christian life; aspects that can never be separated, but are lived out in profound unity and harmony. Why then was Martha scolded, even if kindly, by Jesus? Because she considered only what she was doing to be essential; she was too absorbed and worried by the things “to do”. For a Christian, works of service and charity are never detached from the principle of all our action: that is, listening to the Word of the Lord, to be — like Mary — at the feet of Jesus, with the attitude of a disciple. And that is why Martha was scolded.

In our Christian life too, dear brothers and sisters, may prayer and action always be deeply united. A prayer that does not lead you to practical action for your brother — the poor, the sick, those in need of help, a brother in difficulty — is a sterile and incomplete prayer. But, in the same way, when ecclesial service is attentive only to doing, things gain in importance, functions, structures, and we forget the centrality of Christ. When time is not set aside for dialogue with him in prayer, we risk serving ourselves and not God present in our needy brother and sister. St Benedict sums up the kind of life that indicated for his monks in two words: ora et labora, pray and work. It is from contemplation, from a strong friendship with the Lord that the capacity is born in us to live and to bring the love of God, his mercy, his tenderness, to others. And also our work with brothers in need, our charitable works of mercy, lead us to the Lord, because it is in the needy brother and sister that we see the Lord himself.

Let us ask the Virgin Mary, the Mother of listening and of service, to teach us to meditate in our hearts on the Word of her Son, to pray faithfully, to be ever more attentive in practical ways to the needs of our brothers and sisters.

 



Pope Francis     25.09.13   Holy Mass  Santa Marta       Ezra 9: 5-9,    Luke 9: 1-6

First of all Ezra's shame and embarrassment before God which was so acute that he could not raise his eyes to him. Shame and consternation are common to all of us, because of the sins we have committed that have brought us into bondage for serving idols that are not God.

Prayer is the second concept. Following the example of Ezra who falling upon his knees spread out his arms to God, beseeching him for mercy, we must do likewise in reparation for our innumerable sins. It is a prayer, which we should also raise to God for peace in Lebanon, in Syria and throughout the Middle East. Prayer, always and everywhere, is the road we must take in order to face difficult moments as well as the most dramatic trials and the darkness which at times engulf us in unforeseeable situations. To find our way out of all this, it is necessary to pray ceaselessly.

Lastly, boundless
trust in God who never abandons us. We may be certain, that the Lord is with us, and therefore we must be persevering on our journey, thanks to hope which instils fortitude. The pastors' word will become reassuring to the faithful: the Lord will never abandon us.



Pope Francis    20.10.13  Angelus , St Peter's Square    29th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C      Exodus 17: 8-13,       Luke 18: 1-8

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells a parable on the need to pray always, never wearying. The main character is a widow whose insistent pleading with a dishonest judge succeeds in obtaining justice from him. Jesus concludes: if the widow succeeded in convincing that judge, do you think that God will not listen to us if we pray to him with insistence? Jesus' words are very strong: “And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night?” (Lk 18:7).

“Crying day and night” to God! This image of prayer is striking, but let us ask ourselves: Why does God want this? Doesn’t he already know what we need? What does it mean to “insist” with God?

This is a good question that makes us examine an important aspect of the faith: God invites us to pray insistently not because he is unaware of our needs or because he is not listening to us. On the contrary, he is always listening and he knows everything about us lovingly. On our daily journey, especially in times of difficulty, in the battle against the evil that is outside and within us, the Lord is not far away, he is by our side. We battle with him beside us, and our weapon is prayer which makes us feel his presence beside us, his mercy and also his help. But the battle against evil is a long and hard one; it requires patience and endurance, like Moses who had to keep his arms outstretched for the people to prevail (cf Ex 17:8-13). This is how it is: there is a battle to be waged each day, but God is our ally, faith in him is our strength and prayer is the expression of this faith. Therefore Jesus assures us of the victory, but at the end he asks: “when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8). If faith is snuffed out, prayer is snuffed out, and we walk in the dark. We become lost on the path of life.

Therefore, let us learn from the widow of the Gospel to pray always without growing weary. This widow was very good! She knew how to battle for her children! I think of the many women who fight for their families, who pray and never grow weary. Today let us all remember these women who by their attitude provide us with a true witness of faith and courage, and a model of prayer. Our thoughts go out to them!

Pray always, but not in order to convince the Lord by dint of words! He knows our needs better than we do! Indeed persevering prayer is the expression of faith in a God who calls us to fight with him every day and at every moment in order to conquer evil with good.



https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/family/27.10.13.jpg

The readings this Sunday invite us to reflect on some basic features of the Christian family.

1. First: the family prays.  The Gospel passage speaks about two ways of praying, one is false – that of the Pharisee – and the other is authentic – that of the tax collector.  The Pharisee embodies an attitude which does not express thanksgiving to God for his blessings and his mercy, but rather self-satisfaction.  The Pharisee feels himself justified, he feels his life is in order, he boasts of this, and he judges others from his pedestal.  The tax collector, on the other hand, does not multiply words.  His prayer is humble, sober, pervaded by a consciousness of his own unworthiness, of his own needs.  Here is a man who truly realizes that he needs God’s forgiveness and his mercy.

The prayer of the tax collector is the prayer of the poor man, a prayer pleasing to God.  It is a prayer which, as the first reading says, “will reach to the clouds” (Sir 35:20), unlike the prayer of the Pharisee, which is weighed down by vanity.

In the light of God’s word, I would like to ask you, dear families: Do you pray together from time to time as a family?  Some of you do, I know.  But so many people say to me: But how can we? As the tax collector does, it is clear: humbly, before God.  Each one, with humility, allowing themselves to be gazed upon by the Lord and imploring his goodness, that he may visit us.  But in the family how is this done? After all, prayer seems to be something personal, and besides there is never a good time, a moment of peace…  Yes, all that is true enough, but it is also a matter of humility, of realizing that we need God, like the tax collector!  And all families, we need God: all of us! We need his help, his strength, his blessing, his mercy, his forgiveness.  And we need simplicity to pray as a family: simplicity is necessary! Praying the Our Father together, around the table, is not something extraordinary: it’s easy. And praying the Rosary together, as a family, is very beautiful and a source of great strength!  And also praying for one another! The husband for his wife, the wife for her husband, both together for their children, the children for their grandparents….praying for each other.  This is what it means to pray in the family and it is what makes the family strong: prayer.

2. The second reading suggests another thought: the family keeps the faith.  The Apostle Paul, at the end of his life, makes a final reckoning and says: “I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7).  But how did he keep the faith?  Not in a strong box!  Nor did he hide it underground, like the somewhat lazy servant.  Saint Paul compares his life to a fight and to a race.  He kept the faith because he didn’t just defend it, but proclaimed it, spread it, brought it to distant lands.  He stood up to all those who wanted to preserve, to “embalm” the message of Christ within the limits of Palestine.  That is why he made courageous decisions, he went into hostile territory, he let himself be challenged by distant peoples and different cultures, he spoke frankly and fearlessly.  Saint Paul kept the faith because, in the same way that he received it, he gave it away, he went out to the fringes, and didn’t dig himself into defensive positions.

Here too, we can ask: How do we keep our faith as a family?  Do we keep it for ourselves, in our families, as a personal treasure like a bank account, or are we able to share it by our witness, by our acceptance of others, by our openness?  We all know that families, especially young families, are often “racing” from one place to another, with lots to do.  But did you ever think that this “racing” could also be the race of faith?  Christian families are missionary families. Yesterday in this square we heard the testimonies of missionary families. They are missionary also in everyday life, in their doing everyday things, as they bring to everything the salt and the leaven of faith!  Keeping the faith in families and bringing to everyday things the salt and the leaven of faith.

3. And one more thought we can take from God’s word: the family experiences joy.  In the responsorial psalm we find these words: “let the humble hear and be glad” (33/34:2).  The entire psalm is a hymn to the Lord who is the source of joy and peace.  What is the reason for this gladness?  It  is that the Lord is near, he hears the cry of the lowly and he frees them from evil.  As Saint Paul himself writes: “Rejoice always … The Lord is near” (Phil 4:4-5).  I would like to ask you all a question today. But each of you keep it in your heart and take it home. You can regard it as a kind of “homework”.  Only you must answer.  How are things when it comes to joy at home?  Is there joy in your family?   You can answer this question.

Dear families, you know very well that the true joy which we experience in the family is not superficial; it does not come from material objects, from the fact that everything seems to be going well...  True joy comes from a profound harmony between persons, something which we all feel in our hearts and which makes us experience the beauty of togetherness, of mutual support along life’s journey.  But the basis of this feeling of deep joy is the presence of God, the presence of God in the family and his love, which is welcoming, merciful, and respectful towards all.  And above all, a love which is patient: patience is a virtue of God and he teaches us how to cultivate it in family life, how to be patient, and lovingly so, with each other. To be patient among ourselves. A patient love.  God alone knows how to create harmony from differences.  But if God’s love is lacking, the family loses its harmony, self-centredness prevails and joy fades.  But the family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally.  That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, it is the leaven of society as a whole.

Dear families, always live in faith and simplicity, like the Holy Family of Nazareth!  The joy and peace of the Lord be always with you!


Pope Francis      16.11.13 Holy Mass Santa Marta          Wisdom 18:14-1619: 6-9           Luke 18: 1-8


God will secure the rights of His chosen ones who call out to him day and night, as he did when he called Moses and told him, 'I have heard the cries and laments of my people'; for the Lord is listening.

When the Lord takes to the defence of his people … he is a mighty warrior who saves his people. He saves, he renews all things: the whole creation was fashioned anew, according to its own nature as it had been before. The Red Sea became an unhindered way and the raging waves became a grassy plain; those whom thy hand protected passed through as one nation, after gazing on marvellous wonders. For they ranged like horses, and leaped like lambs, praising thee, O Lord, who didst deliver them. He is the Lord. He heard the prayer of his people; He knew in his heart that his people were suffering. For while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, thy all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from thy royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed, a stern warrior carrying the sharp sword of the authentic command (18:15).

It is a pleasure to hear these readings with the canons of St Peter's present, since your chief work is to knock on the door of God's heart … to pray to the Lord for God's people. And you, who reside in the basilica closest to the Pope, where prayers of petition are gathered from around the world, you receive these petitions and present them to the Lord with your prayer. You are like the widow. You must pray, ask, knock at the heart of God every day. The widow never tired, she was always courageous.

The Lord listens to the prayers of his people. You are privileged representatives of God's people who exercise the role of praying to the Lord for the many needs of the Church, of all humanity, of everyone. I thank you for this work. Let us always remember that God has the power to change everything- all creation was fashioned anew - he is able to fashion everything anew. However, he also has a weakness, our prayer, our universal prayer, close to the Pope in St Peter's. Thank you for your service; and continue on for the good of the Church.





Pope Francis      05.03.14 Holy Mass, Blessing and Imposition of the Ashes, Basilica of Santa Sabina Ash Wednesday      Joel 2: 12-18,        Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18


“Rend your hearts and not your garments” (Joel 2:13).

With these penetrating words of the Prophet Joel, the liturgy today introduces us into Lent, pointing to conversion of heart as the chief characteristic of this season of grace. The prophetic appeal challenges all of us without exception, and it reminds us that conversion is not to be reduced to outward forms or to vague intentions, but engages and transforms one’s entire existence beginning from the centre of the person, from the conscience. We are invited to embark upon a journey on which, by defying routine, we strive to open our eyes and ears, but especially to open our hearts, in order to go beyond our own “backyard”.

Opening oneself to God and to the brethren. We know that this increasingly artificial world would have us live in a culture of “doing”, of the “useful”, where we exclude God from our horizon without realizing it. But we also exclude the horizon itself! Lent beacons us to “rouse ourselves”, to remind ourselves that we are creatures, simply put, that we are not God. In the little daily scene, as I look at some of the power struggles to occupy spaces, I think: these people are playing God the Creator. They still have not realized that they are not God.

And we also risk closing ourselves off to others and forgetting them. But only when the difficulties and suffering of others confront and question us may we begin our journey of conversion towards Easter. It is an itinerary which involves the Cross and self-denial. Today’s Gospel indicates the elements of this spiritual journey: prayer, fasting and almsgiving (cf. Mt 6:1-6; 16-18). All three exclude the need for appearances: what counts is not appearances; the value of life does not depend on the approval of others or on success, but on what we have inside us.

The first element is prayer. Prayer is the strength of the Christian and of every person who believes. In the weakness and frailty of our lives, we can turn to God with the confidence of children and enter into communion with him. In the face of so many wounds that hurt us and could harden our hearts, we are called to dive into the sea of prayer, which is the sea of God’s boundless love, to taste his tenderness. Lent is a time of prayer, of more intense prayer, more prolonged, more assiduous, more able to take on the needs of the brethren; intercessory prayer, to intercede before God for the many situations of poverty and suffering.

The second key element of the Lenten journey is fasting. We must be careful not to practice a formal fast, or one which in truth “satisfies” us because it makes us feel good about ourselves. Fasting makes sense if it questions our security, and if it also leads to some benefit for others, if it helps us to cultivate the style of the Good Samaritan, who bends down to his brother in need and takes care of him. Fasting involves choosing a sober lifestyle; a way of life that does not waste, a way of life that does not “throw away”. Fasting helps us to attune our hearts to the essential and to sharing. It is a sign of awareness and responsibility in the face of injustice, abuse, especially to the poor and the little ones, and it is a sign of the trust we place in God and in his providence.

The third element is almsgiving: it points to giving freely, for in almsgiving one gives something to someone from whom one does not expect to receive anything in return. Gratuitousness should be one of the characteristics of the Christian, who aware of having received everything from God gratuitously, that is, without any merit of his own, learns to give to others freely. Today gratuitousness is often not part of daily life where everything is bought and sold. Everything is calculated and measured. Almsgiving helps us to experience giving freely, which leads to freedom from the obsession of possessing, from the fear of losing what we have, from the sadness of one who does not wish to share his wealth with others.

With its invitations to conversion, Lent comes providentially to awaken us, to rouse us from torpor, from the risk of moving forward by inertia. The exhortation which the Lord addresses to us through the prophet Joel is strong and clear: “Return to me with all your heart” (Jl 2:12). Why must we return to God? Because something is not right in us, not right in society, in the Church and we need to change, to give it a new direction. And this is called needing to convert! Once again Lent comes to make its prophetic appeal, to remind us that it is possible to create something new within ourselves and around us, simply because God is faithful, always faithful, for he cannot deny himself, he continues to be rich in goodness and mercy, and he is always ready to forgive and start afresh. With this filial confidence, let us set out on the journey!




Pope Francis   31.08.14  Angelus, St Peter's Square       22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A          Romans 12: 1-2,       Matthew 16: 21-27


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,

Sunday’s reading from the Gospel according to Matthew brings us to the critical point at which Jesus, after having ascertained that Peter and the other eleven believed in Him as the Messiah and Son of God, “began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things..., and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (16:21). It is a critical moment at which the contrast between Jesus’ way of thinking and that of the disciples emerges. Peter actually feels duty bound to admonish the Master because the Messiah could not come to such an ignominious end. Then Jesus, in turn, severely rebukes Peter and puts him in his place, because he is “not on the side of God, but of men” (v. 23), unintentionally playing the part of Satan, the tempter. In the liturgy for this Sunday the Apostle Paul also stresses this point when he writes to the Christians in Rome, telling them: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2).

Indeed, we Christians live in the world, fully integrated into the social and cultural reality of our time, and rightly so; but this brings with it the risk that we might become “worldly”, that “the salt might lose its taste”, as Jesus would say (cf. Mt 5:13). In other words, the Christian could become “watered down”, losing the charge of newness which comes to him from the Lord and from the Holy Spirit. Instead it should be the opposite: when the power of the Gospel remains alive in Christians, it can transform “criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life” (Paul VI Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 19). It is sad to find “watered-down” Christians, who seem like watered-down wine. One cannot tell whether they are Christian or worldly, like watered-down wine; one cannot tell whether it is wine or water! This is sad. It is sad to find Christians who are no longer the salt of the earth, and we know that when salt loses its taste, it is no longer good for anything. Their salt has lost its taste because they have delivered themselves up to the spirit of the world, that is, they have become worldly.

This is why it is necessary to renew oneself by continually drawing sap from the Gospel. And how can one do this in practice? First of all by actually reading and meditating on the Gospel every day, so the Word of Jesus may always be present in our life. Remember: it will help you to always carry the Gospel with you: a small Gospel, in a pocket, in a bag, and read a passage during the day. But always with the Gospel, because it is carrying the Word of Jesus, and being able to read it. In addition, attending Sunday Mass, where we encounter the Lord in the community, we hear his Word and receive the Eucharist which unites us with Him and to one another; and then days of retreat and spiritual exercises are very important for spiritual renewal. Gospel, Eucharist, Prayer. Do not forget: Gospel, Eucharist, Prayer. Thanks to these gifts of the Lord we are able to conform not to the world but to Christ, and follow him on his path, the path of “losing one’s life” in order to find it (Mt 16:25). “To lose it” in the sense of giving it, offering it through love and in love — and this leads to sacrifice, also the cross — to receive it liberated from selfishness and from the mortgage of death, newly purified, full of eternity.

May the Virgin Mary always go before us on this journey; let us be guided and accompanied by her.




Pope Francis  11.09.14   Holy Mass  Santa Marta     Luke 6: 27-38
Pope Francis  11.09.14 Holy Mass, Santa Marta - Love your enemies

Jesus gave us the law of love: to love God and to love one another as brothers. And the Lord did not fail to explain it a bit further, with the Beatitudes which nicely summarize the Christian approach.

In the day’s Gospel passage, however, Jesus goes a step further, explaining in greater detail to those who surrounded Him to hear Him. Let us look first of all at the verbs Jesus uses: love; do good; bless; pray; offer; do not refuse; give. With these words, Jesus shows us the path that we must take, a path of generosity. He asks us first and foremost to love. And we ask, “whom must I love?”. He answers us, “your
enemies”. And, with surprise, we ask for confirmation: “our actual enemies?”. “Yes”, the Lord tells us, "actually your enemies!"

But the Lord also asks us to do good. And if we do not ask him, to whom? He tells us straight away, “to those who hate us”. And this time too, we ask the Lord for confirmation: “But must I do good to those who hate me?”. And the Lord’s reply is again, “yes”.

Then he even asks us to
bless those who curse us. And to pray not only for my mama, for my dad, my children, my family, but for those who abuse us. And not to refuse anyone who begs from you. The newness of the Gospel lies in the giving of oneself, giving the heart, to those who actually dislike us, who harm us, to our enemies. The passage from Luke reads: “And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?”. It would merely be an exchange: you love me, I love you. But Jesus reminds us that even sinners — and by sinners he means pagans — love those who love them. This is why, there is no credit.

The passage continues: “And if you
do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same”. Again, it is simply an exchange: I do good to you, you do good to me!. And yet the Gospel adds: “And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you?”. No credit, because it’s a bargain. St Luke then indicates, “even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again”.

All of Jesus’ reasoning leads to a firm conclusion: “Love your enemies instead. Do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Without interest. And your reward will be great”. And thus you will be sons of the Most High.

It is therefore evident that the Gospel is a new message that is difficult to carry forward. In a word, it means “go behind Jesus”. Follow him. Imitate him. Jesus does not answer his Father by saying, “I shall go and say a few words, I shall make a nice speech, I shall point the way and then come back”. No, Jesus’ response to the Father is: “I shall do your will”. And indeed, in the Garden of Olives he says to the Father: “Thy will be done”. And thus he gives his life, not for his friends but for his enemies!

The Christian way is not easy, but this is it. Therefore, to those who say, “I don’t feel like doing this”, the response is “if you don’t feel like it, that’s your problem, but this is the Christian way. This is the path that Jesus teaches us. This is the reason to take the path of Jesus, which is mercy: be merciful as your Father is merciful. Because only with a merciful heart can we do all that the Lord advises us, until the end. And thus it is obvious that the Christian life is not a self-reflexive life but it comes outside of itself to give to others: it is a gift, it is love, and love does not turn back on itself, it is not selfish: it gives itself!

The passage of St Luke concludes with the invitation
not to judge and to be merciful. However, it often seems that we have been appointed judges of others: gossiping, criticizing, we judge everyone. But Jesus tells us: “Judge not and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven”. And so, we say it every day in the Our Father: forgive us as we forgive. In fact if I do not first forgive, how can I ask the Father to forgive me?

There is also another really beautiful image in the Gospel reading: “Give and it will be given to you”. And here “Jesus’ heart can be seen to grow and he makes this promise which is perhaps an image of heaven. The Christian life as Jesus presents it truly seems to be “folly”. St Paul himself speaks of the folly the cross of Christ, which is not part of the wisdom of the world. For this reason to be a Christian is to become a bit foolish, in a certain sense. And to renounce that worldly shrewdness in order to do all that Jesus tells us to do. And, if we make an accounting, if we balance things out, it seems to weigh against us. But the path of Jesus is magnanimity,
generosity, the giving of oneself without measure. He came into the world to save and he gave himself, he forgave, he spoke ill of no one, he did not judge.

Of course, being Christian isn’t easy and we cannot become Christian with our own strength; we need “
the grace of God”. Therefore, there is a prayer which should be said every day: “Lord, grant me the grace to become a good Christian, because I cannot do it alone."

A first reading of Chapter Six of Luke’s Gospel is unnerving. But, if we take the Gospel and we give it a second, a third, a fourth reading, we can then ask the Lord for the grace to understand what it is to be Christian. And also for the
grace that He make Christians of us. Because we cannot do it alone.




Pope Francis   14.12.14   Holy Mass,  visit to the Roman Parish of San Giuseppe All'Aurelio    Third Sunday of Advent   Isaiah 61: 1-2A, 10-111 Thessalonians  5: 16-24,
Pope Francis 14.12.14
Gaudete Sunday

On this Sunday, the Church, looks forward to the joy of Christmas, and that is why it is called “Gaudete Sunday”. In this season, a time of preparation for Christmas, we wear dark vestments, but today they are pink for the blossoming of Christmas joy. And the joy of Christmas is a special joy; but it is a joy that isn’t just for the day of Christmas, it is for the entire life of a Christian. It is a serene and tranquil joy, a joy that forever accompanies the Christian. Even in difficult moments, in moments of difficulty, this joy becomes peace. When he is a true Christian, the Christian never loses his peace, even in suffering. That peace is a gift from the Lord. Christian joy is a gift from the Lord. “Ah, Father, we’ll have a nice big luncheon, everybody will be happy”. This is lovely, a nice luncheon is good; but this isn’t the Christian joy we are talking about today. Christian joy is something else. It brings us together to celebrate, it’s true. Thus the Church wants you to understand what Christian joy is.

The Apostle St Paul says to the Thessalonians: “Brothers, rejoice always”. And how can I rejoice? He says: “
pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances”. We find our Christian joy in prayer, it comes from prayer and from giving thanks to God: “Thank you, Lord, for so many beautiful things!”. But there are those who don’t know how to give thanks to God; they are always looking for something to lament about. I knew a sister — far from here! — this sister was a good woman, she worked... but her life was about lamenting, complaining about so many things that happened.... You see, in the convent they called her “Sr Lamenta”. But a Christian cannot live like this, always looking for something to complain about: “That person has something I don't have.... Did you see what just happened?...”. This is not Christian! And it is harmful to find Christians with embittered faces, with a face wry with bitterness, not in peace. Never, never was there a saint with a mournful face, never! Saints always have joy in their faces. Or at least, amid suffering, a face of peace. The greatest suffering, the martyrdom of Jesus: He always had peace in his face and was concerned about others: his mother, John, the thief... his concern was for others.

To have this Christian joy, first, is prayer; second, to
give thanks. And what do I do to give thanks? Reflect on your life and think of the many good things that life has given you: so many. “But, Father, it’s true, but I have also received so many bad things!” — “Yes, it’s true, it happens to us all. But think of the good things” — “I have a Christian family, Christian parents, thank God I have a job, my family is not suffering of hunger, we are all healthy...”. I don’t know, so many things, and give thanks to the Lord for this. This accustoms us to joy. Pray, give thanks....

And then, the First Reading suggests another dimension that will help us to have joy. It is to bring others the Good News: We are Christians. “Christian” comes from “Christ”, and “Christ” means “anointed”. And we too are “anointed”. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord consecrated me with unction. We are anointed: Christians mean “anointed ones”. And why are we anointed? To do what? “He sent me to bring the good news” to whom? “To the poor, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (cf. Is 61:1-2). This is the vocation of Christ and the vocation of Christians as well.
To go to others, to those in need, whether their needs be material or spiritual.... Many people who suffer anxiety because of family problems.... To bring peace there, to bring the unction of Jesus, the oil of Jesus which does so much good and consoles souls.

Therefore, in order to have this joy in preparation for Christmas, first, pray: “Lord, let me live this Christmas with true joy”. Not with the joy of consumerism that leads me to 24 December with anxiety, because “ah, I’m missing this, I’m missing that...”. No, this is not the joy of God. Prayer. Second:
give thanks to the Lord for the good things he has given us. Third, think of how we can go to others, to those in difficulty and with problems — let us think of the sick, of so many problems — to bring a little unction, peace, joy. This is the joy of the Christian. Agreed? We have 15 days left, a little less: 13 days. In these days, let us pray. But do not forget: let us pray, asking for the joy of Christmas. Let us give thanks to God for the good things that he has given us, above all the faith. This is a wonderful grace. Third, let us think where I can go to bring a little relief, a little peace, to those who suffer. Pray, give thanks and help others. And like this we will arrive at the Birth of the Anointed One, the Christ, as ones anointed in grace, prayer and acts of grace and help towards others.

May Our Lady accompany us on this path towards Christmas. And let there be joy, joy!



Pope Francis         03.02.15   Holy Mass  Santa Marta           Hebrews 12 :1-4,          Mark 5: 21-43


Hebrews 12:1-4; the author of the Letter to the Hebrews refers to the memory of the first days after conversion, after the encounter with Jesus, and also refers to the memory of our fathers: “how 
much they suffered when they were on the journey”. The author, looking to these fathers says: we too ‘are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses’. Thus, it is the testimony of our ancestors that he recalls. And he also recalls our experience, when we were so happy in the first encounter with Jesus. This is the memory, which we spoke about as a point of reference for Christian life.

But today, the author of the letter speaks about another point of reference, namely, 
hope. And he tells us that we must have the courage to go forward: let us persevere in running the race that lies before us. Then he says what is the very core of hope: ‘keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus’”. This is the point: if we don’t keep our eyes fixed on Jesus it is difficult for us to have hope. We can perhaps be optimistic, be positive, but hope?

After all, hope is learned only by looking to Jesus, contemplating Jesus; we learn through 
contemplative prayer. I can ask you: how do you pray?. Someone, he said, might respond: “Father, I say the prayers I learned as a child”. Okay, this is good. Someone else might add: “I pray the rosary too, every day!” It’s good to pray the rosary every day. And finally, one might say: “I also talk with the Lord, when I have a problem, or with Our Lady or with the saints...”. And “this is good” too.

Do you pray in contemplation? The question might throw us a curve, and someone might ask: “What is this, Father? What is this prayer? Where can we buy it? How do we do it?”. It can be done only with the Gospel in hand. Basically, you pick up the Gospel, select a passage, read it once, read it twice; imagine, as if you see what is happening, and contemplate Jesus.

Mark 5:21-43 teaches us many beautiful things. How do I contemplate with today’s Gospel? I see that Jesus was in the midst of the crowd, there was a great crowd around Him. The word ‘crowd’ is used five times this passage. But doesn’t Jesus rest? I can imagine: always with the crowd! Most of Jesus’ life is spent on the street, with the crowd. Doesn’t He rest? Yes, once: the Gospel says that He slept on the boat, but the storm came and the disciples woke Him. Jesus was constantly among the people.

For this reason, we look to Jesus this way, I contemplate Jesus this way, I imagine Jesus this way. And I say to Jesus whatever comes to my mind to say to Him.

Then, in the midst of the crowd, there was that sick woman, and Jesus was aware. But how did Jesus, in the middle of so many people, realize that a woman had touched Him? And, indeed, He asked directly: “Who touched me?”. The disciples, in return, pointed out to Jesus: “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’”. The question, is that Jesus not only understands the crowd, feels the crowd, but He hears the beating of each one of our hearts, of each one of us: He cares for all and for each one, always!

The same situation happens again when the ruler of the Synagogue approaches Jesus to tell Him about his gravely ill little daughter. And He leaves everything to tend to this one: Jesus in the great and in the small, always! Then, we can go on and see that He arrives at the house, He sees that tumult, those women who were called to mourn over the dead body, wailing, weeping. But Jesus says: “Don’t worry: she’s sleeping!”. And in response to these words, some even begin to scoff at Him. However, He stays quiet and with his patience he manages to bear this situation, to avoid responding to those who mock Him.

The Gospel account culminates with the little girl’s resurrection. And Jesus, rather than saying: ‘Praised be God!’, says to them: ‘Please, give her something to eat’. For Jesus always has the fine details in front of Him.

What I did with this Gospel is contemplative prayer: to pick up the Gospel, read and imagine myself in the scene, to imagine what’s happening and speak with Jesus about what comes from my heart. And with this, we allow hope to grow, because we have our eyes fixed on Jesus. pray in contemplation. And even if we have many commitments, we can always find the time, even 15 minutes at home:
 Pick up the Gospel, a short passage, imagine what is happening and talk to Jesus about it. This way your eyes will be fixed on Jesus, and not so much on soap operas, for example: your ears will be fixed on the words of Jesus and not so much on the neighbours’ gossip.

Contemplative prayer helps us to hope and teaches us to live from the substance of the Gospel. And this is why we must always pray: say prayers, pray the rosary, speak with the Lord, but also carry out this contemplative prayer in order to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. From here comes hope. And also this way, our Christian life moves within that framework, between memory and hope: the memory of the entire past journey, the memory of so many graces received from the Lord; and hope, looking to the Lord, who is the only One who can give me hope. And to look to the Lord, to know the Lord, we pick up the Gospel and we pray in contemplation.

Today for example find 10 minutes, 15 minutes and no more: read the Gospel, imagine and speak with Jesus. And nothing more. And in this way, your knowledge of Jesus will be greater and your hope will grow. Don’t forget, keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus. This is why we call it “contemplative prayer”.


Pope Francis       08.02.15   Holy Mass  San Michele Arcangelo  a Pietralata           5th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B           Mark 1: 29-39

This is what Jesus’ life was like: he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons” (Mk 1:39). Jesus who preaches and Jesus who heals. The whole day was like this:
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/something-stupid/The%20Devil%20crop.jpg
preaching to the people, teaching the Law, teaching the Gospel. And the people look for Him to listen to Him and also because He heals the sick.

That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons.... And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons” (Mk 1:32, 34).

And we are before Jesus in this celebration: Jesus is the One who presides at this celebration. We are priests in the name of Jesus, but He is the President, He is the true Priest, who offers the sacrifice to the Father. We could ask ourselves whether we let Jesus preach to us. Each one of us: “Do I let Jesus preach to me, or I know know all? Do I listen to Jesus or do I prefer to listen to something else, perhaps people’s gossip, or stories...”. Listening to Jesus.

Listening to Jesus’ preaching. “How can I do this, Father? On which TV channel does Jesus speak?”. He speaks to you in the Gospel! And this is an attitude that we still do not have: to go to seek the word of Jesus in the Gospel. To always carry a Gospel with us, a small one, or to have one at our fingertips. Five minutes, 10 minutes.

When I am travelling or when I have to wait..., I take the Gospel from my pocket, or from my bag and I read something; or at home. And Jesus speaks to me, Jesus preaches to me there. It is the Word of Jesus. And we have to get accustomed to this: to hear the Word of Jesus, to listen to the Word of Jesus in the Gospel. To read a passage, think a bit about what it says, what it is saying to me. If I don’t feel it is speaking to me, I move to another.

But to have this daily contact with the Gospel, to pray with the Gospel; because this way Jesus preaches to me, He says with the Gospel what He wants to tell me. I know people who always carry it and when they have a little time they open it, and this way they always find the right word for the moment they are living in. This is the first thing I wanted to say to you: let the Lord preach to you. Listen to the Lord.

And Jesus heals: let yourselves be healed by Jesus.

We all have wounds, everyone: spiritual wounds, sins, hostility, jealousy; perhaps we don’t say hello to someone: “Ah, he did this to me, I won’t acknowledge him anymore”. But this needs to be healed!

“How do I do it?”. Pray and ask that Jesus heal it”.

It’s sad in a family when siblings don’t speak to each other for a small matter; something stupid*1,  because the devil takes a small matter, something stupid and makes a world of it. Then hostilities go on, and multiply for many years, and that family is destroyed. Parents suffer because their children don’t speak to each other, or one son’s wife doesn’t speak to the other, and thus, with jealousy, envy.... The devil sows this. The devil is the "father of hate", the "father of lies" who seeks disunity. But God wants unity. If in your heart you feel jealousy, this is the beginning of war. Jealousies are not of God. *1

And the only One who casts out demons is Jesus. The only One who heals these matters is Jesus.

For this reason I say to each one of you: let yourself be healed by Jesus. Each one knows where his wounds are. Each one of us has them; we don’t have only one: two, three, four, 20. Each one knows! May Jesus heal those wounds. But for this I must open my heart, in order that He may come. How do I open my heart? By praying. “But Lord, I can’t with those people over there. I hate them. They did this, this and this...”. “Heal this wound, Lord”. If we ask Jesus for this grace, He will do it. Let yourself be healed by Jesus. Let Jesus heal you. Let Jesus preach to you and let Him heal you. This way I can even preach to others, to teach the words of Jesus, because I let Him preach to me; and I can also help heal many wounds, the many wounds that there are. But first I have to do it: let Him preach to me and heal me.

When the bishop comes to make a visit to the parishes, we do many things. We can also make a nice proposal, a small one: the proposal to read a passage of the Gospel every day, a short passage, in order to let Jesus preach to me. And the other proposal: to pray that I let myself be healed of the wounds I have. Agreed? Shall we sign? Okay? Let’s do it, because this will be good for everyone. Thank you.

*1  Vatican Radio 02.09.15


Pope Francis      26.08.15 General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall       The family - 24. Prayer          Luke 10: 38-42

Pope Francis  Family Prayer 26.08.15


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

After reflecting on how the family lives the time of celebration and that of work, let us now consider the time of prayer. The most frequent complaint of Christians is actually with regard to time: “I should pray more...; I would like to but often I have no time”. We hear it all the time. The regret is sincere, certainly, because the human heart always desires prayer, even without realizing it; and if it doesn’t find it, it is not at peace. But in order to find it, we need to cultivate in our hearts an “ardent” love for God, an affectionate love.
Let us ask a very simple question. It’s good to believe in God with all our heart, it’s good to hope that he will help us in difficulty, it’s good to feel obliged to give him thanks. All this is just; but do we love the Lord, even a little? Does the thought of God move us, amaze us, soften us?

Let us think of the wording of that great Commandment, which is the basis of all others: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Dt 6:5; cf. Mt 22:37). The formula uses the intense language of love, addressing it to God. See, the spirit of prayer dwells here above all. And if it dwells here, it dwells all the time and never leaves. Are we able to think of God as the caress that keeps us alive, before which there is nothing? A caress from which nothing, not even death, can separate us? Or do we think of him only as the great Being, the Almighty who made all things, the Judge who monitors every action? All true, of course; but only when God is the affection above all our affections, does the meaning of these words find their fullness. Then we feel happy, even if a little confused, because he thinks of us and above all he loves us! Isn’t that impressive? Isn’t it impressive that God caresses us with the love of a father? It is so beautiful! He could have simply revealed himself as the Supreme Being, given his commandments and waited for the results. Instead, God did and does infinitely more than this. He accompanies us on life’s journey, he protects us, he loves us.

If love for God does not light the fire, the spirit of prayer will not warm time. We may also multiply our words, “as the pagans do”, says Jesus; or even perform our rituals, “as the Pharisees do” (cf. Mt 6:5,7). A heart which is home to affection for God makes a prayer of an unspoken thought, or an invocation before a holy image, or a kiss blown to the Church. It’s beautiful when mothers teach their little children to blow kisses to Jesus or to Our Lady. What tenderness there is in this! In that moment the child’s heart is transformed into a place of prayer. And it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Let us never forget to ask for this gift for each one of us! Because the Spirit of God has that special way of saying in our heart “Abba” — “Father”. It teaches us to say “Father” just as Jesus said it, a way that we can never find on our own (cf. Gal 4:6). It is in the family that one learns to ask for and appreciate this gift of the Spirit. If one learns to say it with the same spontaneity with which one learns “father” and “mother,” one has learnt it forever. When this happens, the time of the whole of family life is enveloped in the womb of God’s love, and seeks spontaneously the time of prayer.

We know well that family time is a complicated and crowded time, busy and preoccupied. There is always little, there is never enough, there are so many things to do. One who has a family soon learns to solve an equation that not even the great mathematicians know how to solve: within 24 hours they make twice that many! There are mothers and fathers who could win the Nobel Prize for this. Out of 24 hours they make 48: I don’t know how they do it but they get on and do it! There is so much work in a family!

The spirit of prayer gives time back to God, it steps away from the obsession of a life that is always lacking time, it rediscovers the peace of necessary things, and discovers the joy of unexpected gifts. Two good guides for this are the sisters Martha and Mary, spoken of in the Gospel we have just heard; they learned from God the harmony of family rhythms: the beauty of celebration, the serenity of work, the spirit of prayer (cf. Lk 10:38-42). The visit of Jesus, whom they loved, was their celebration. However, one day Martha learned that the work of hospitality, though important, is not everything, but that listening to the Lord, as Mary did, was the really essential thing, the “best kind” of time. Prayer flows from listening to Jesus, from reading the Gospel. Do not forget to read a passage of the Gospel every day. Prayer flows from closeness with the Word of God. Is there this closeness in our family? Do we have the Gospel at home? Do we open it sometimes to read it together? Do we meditate on it while reciting the Rosary? The Gospel read and meditated on as a family is like good bread that nourishes everyone’s heart. In the morning and in the evening, and when we sit at the table, we learn to say together a prayer with great simplicity: it is Jesus who comes among us, as he was with the family of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. There is something that is very close to my heart; because I have seen it in the city: there are children who have not learned to make the Sign of the Cross! But you, mother, father, teach your child to pray, to make the Sign of the Cross: this is a lovely task for mothers and fathers!

In the prayer of the family, in its intense moments and in its difficult seasons, we are entrusted to one another, so that each one of us in the family may be protected by the love of God.



Pope Francis    10.02.16   Holy Mass, Ash Wednesday  Vatican Basilica        2 Corinthians 5: 20 - 6: 2,  Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18

Pope Francis 10.02.16 Ash Wednesday


The Word of God, at the start of the Lenten journey, addresses two invitations to the Church and to each of us.

The first is that of St Paul: “be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). It is not simply good fatherly advice, neither is it just a suggestion; it is a bona fide supplication on Christ’s behalf: “We beseech you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God” (ibid.). Why does he make such a solemn and earnest appeal? Because Christ knows how fragile and sinful we are, he knows the weakness of our heart. He immediately sees it wounded by the evil we have committed. He knows how much we need forgiveness, he knows that it is important for us to feel loved in order to do good. We cannot do it alone: this is why the Apostle does not tell us to do something but to allow ourselves to be reconciled with God, to let him forgive us, with trust, because “God is greater than our hearts” (1 Jn 3:20). He conquers sin and lifts us out of misery, if we let him. It is up to us to acknowledge that we need mercy. This is the first step on the Christian path; it entails entering through the open door which is Christ, where he, the Saviour, awaits us and offers us a new and joyful life.

There may be a few obstacles, which close the door of the heart. There is the temptation to lock the doors, or to live with our sin, minimizing it, always justifying it, thinking we are no worse than others; this, however, is how the locks of the soul are closed and we remain shut inside, prisoners of evil. Another obstacle is the shame of opening the secret door of the heart. Shame, in reality, is a good symptom, because it shows that we want to break away from evil; however, it must never be transformed into apprehension or fear. There is a third pitfall, that of distancing ourselves from the door: it happens when we hide in our misery, when we ruminate constantly, connecting it to negative things, until sinking into the darkest repositories of the soul. Then we even become kindred with the sorrow that we do not want, we become discouraged and we are weaker in the face of temptations. This happens because we bide alone with ourselves, closing ourselves off and avoiding the light; while the Lord’s grace alone frees us. Therefore let us be reconciled, let us listen to Jesus who says to those who are weary and oppressed: “Come to me” (Mt 11:28). Not to dwell within themselves, but to go to him! Comfort and peace are there.

At this celebration the Missionaries of Mercy are present, to receive the mandate to be signs and instruments of God’s forgiveness. Dear brothers, may you help to open the doors of hearts, to overcome shame, not to avoid the light. May your hands bless and lift up brothers and sisters with paternity; through you may the gaze and the hands of God rest on his children and heal them of their wounds!

There is a second invitation of God, who says, through the prophet Joel: “return to me with all your heart” (2:12). If we need to return it is because we have distanced ourselves. It is the mystery of sin: we have distanced ourselves from God, from others, from ourselves. It is not difficult to realize this: we all see how we struggle to truly trust in God, to entrust ourselves to him as Father, without fear; as it is challenging to love others, rather than thinking badly of them; how it costs us to do our true good, while we are attracted and seduced by so many material realities, which disappear and in the end leave us impoverished. Alongside this history of sin, Jesus inaugurated a history of salvation. The Gospel which opens Lent calls us to be protagonists, embracing three remedies, three medicines which heal us from sin (cf. Mt 6:1-6, 16-18).

In the first place is
prayer, an expression of openness and trust in the Lord: it is the personal encounter with him, which shortens the distances created by sin. Praying means saying: “I am not self-sufficient, I need You, You are my life and my salvation”. In the second place is charity, in order to overcome our lack of involvement with regard to others. True love, in fact, is not an outward act, it is not giving something in a paternalistic way in order to assuage the conscience, but to accept those who are in need of our time, our friendship, our help. It means living to serve, overcoming the temptation to satisfy ourselves. In the third place is fasting, penance, in order to free ourselves from dependencies regarding what is passing, and to train ourselves to be more sensitive and merciful. It is an invitation to simplicity and to sharing: to take something from our table and from our assets in order to once again find the true benefit of freedom.

“Return to me” — says the Lord — “return with all your heart”: not only with a few outward deeds, but from the depths of our selves. Indeed, Jesus calls us to live prayer, charity and penance with consistency and authenticity, overcoming hypocrisy. May Lent be a beneficial time to “prune” falseness, worldliness, indifference: so as not to think that everything is fine if I am fine; so as to understand that what counts is not approval, the search for success or consensus, but the cleansing of the heart and of life; so as to find again our Christian identity
, namely, the love that serves, not the selfishness that serves us. Let us embark on the journey together, as Church, by receiving Ashes — we too will become ashes — and keeping our gaze fixed on the Crucifix. He, loving us, invites us to be reconciled with God and to return to him, in order to find ourselves again.



Pope Francis    24.07.16  Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome       17th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year C        Luke  11: 1-13

Pope Francis  24.07.16 Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The Gospel this Sunday (Lk 11:1-13) opens with the scene of Jesus who is praying alone, apart from the others; when he finishes, the disciples ask him: “Lord, teach us to pray” (v. 1); and He says in reply, “When you pray, say: ‘Father...’”(v. 2). This word is the “secret” of Jesus’ prayer, it is the key that he himself gives to us so that we too might enter into that relationship of confidential dialogue with the Father who accompanied and sustained his whole life.

With the name “Father” Jesus combines two requests: “hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come” (v. 2). Jesus’ prayer, and the Christian prayer therefore, first and foremost, makes room for God, allowing him to show his holiness in us and to advance his kingdom, beginning with the possibility of exercising his Lordship of love in our lives.

Three other supplications complete this prayer that Jesus taught, the “Our Father”. There are three questions that express our basic needs: bread, forgiveness and help in temptation (cf. vv. 3-4). One cannot live without bread, one cannot live without forgiveness and one cannot live without God’s help in times of temptation. The bread that Jesus teaches us to ask for is what is necessary, not superfluous. It is the bread of pilgrims, the righteous, a bread that is neither accumulated nor wasted, and that does not weigh us down as we walk. Forgiveness is, above all, what we ourselves receive from God: only the awareness that we are sinners forgiven by God’s infinite mercy can enable us to carry out concrete gestures of fraternal reconciliation. If a person does not feel that he/she is a sinner who has been forgiven, that person will never be able to make a gesture of forgiveness or reconciliation. It begins in the heart where you feel that you are a forgiven sinner. The last supplication, “lead us not into temptation”, expresses the awareness of our condition, which is always exposed to the snares of evil and corruption. We all know what temptation is!

Jesus’ teaching on prayer continues with two parables, which he modelled on the behaviour of a friend towards another friend, and that of a father towards his son (cf. vv. 5-12). Both are intended to teach us to have full confidence in God, who is Father. He knows our needs better than we do ourselves, but he wants us to present them to him boldly and persistently, because this is our way of participating in his work of salvation. Prayer is the first and principle “working instrument” we have in our hands! In being persistent with God, we don’t need to convince him, but to strengthen our faith and our patience, meaning our ability to strive together with God for the things that are truly important and necessary. In prayer there are two of us: God and I, striving together for the important things.

Among these, there is one, the great important thing that Jesus speaks of in today’s Gospel, which we almost never ask for, and that is the Holy Spirit. “Give me the Holy Spirit...!” And Jesus says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him for it!” (v. 13). The Holy Spirit! We must ask that the Holy Spirit comes within us. But what is the use of the Holy Spirit? We need him to live well, to live with wisdom and love, doing God’s will. What a beautiful prayer it would be if, this week, each of us were to ask the Father: “Father, give me the Holy Spirit!”. Our Lady demonstrates this with her life, which was entirely enlivened by the Spirit of God. May She, united to Jesus, help us to pray to the Father so that we might not live in a worldly manner, but according to the Gospel, guided by the Holy Spirit.



Pope Francis  16.10.16  Canonization of the Blesseds, St Peter's Square  29th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C  Exodus 17: 8-13,    2 Timothy 3: 14 -  4: 2,    Luke 18: 1-8

Pope Francis  16.10.16  Prayer
At the start of today’s celebration, we addressed this prayer to the Lord: “Create in us a generous and steadfast heart, so that we may always serve you with fidelity and purity of spirit” (Collect).

By our own efforts, we cannot give ourselves such a heart. Only God can do this, and so in the prayer we ask him to give it to us as his “creation”. In this way, we come to the theme of prayer, which is central to this Sunday’s scriptural readings and challenges all of us who are gathered here for the canonization of new Saints. The Saints attained the goal. Thanks to prayer, they had a generous and steadfast heart. They prayed mightily; they fought and they were victorious.

So pray! Like Moses, who was above all a man of God, a man of prayer. We see him today in the battle against Amalek, standing atop the hill with his arms raised. From time to time, however, his arms would grow weary and fall, and then the tide would turn against the people. So Aaron and Hur made Moses sit on a stone and they held up his arms, until the final victory was won.

This is the kind of spiritual life the Church asks of us: not to win by war, but to win with peace!

There is an important message in this story of Moses: commitment to prayer demands that we support one another. Weariness is inevitable. Sometimes we simply cannot go on, yet, with the support of our brothers and sisters, our prayer can persevere until the Lord completes his work.

Saint Paul writes to Timothy, his disciple and co-worker, and urges him to hold fast to what he has learned and believed (cf. 2 Tim 3:14). But Timothy could not do this by his own efforts: the “battle” of perseverance cannot be won without prayer. Not sporadic or hesitant prayer, but prayer offered as Jesus tells us in the Gospel: “Pray always, without ever losing heart” (Lk 18:1). This is the Christian way of life: remaining steadfast in prayer, in order to remain steadfast in faith and testimony. Here once again we may hear a voice within us, saying: “But Lord, how can we not grow weary? We are human… even Moses grew weary...!” True, each of us grows weary. Yet we are not alone; we are part of a Body! We are members of the Body of Christ, the Church, whose arms are raised day and night to heaven, thanks to the presence of the Risen Christ and his Holy Spirit. Only in the Church, and thanks to the Church’s prayer, are we able to remain steadfast in faith and witness.

We have heard the promise Jesus makes in the Gospel: “God will grant justice to his chosen ones, who cry to him day and night” (cf. Lk 18:7). This is the mystery of prayer: to keep crying out, not to lose heart, and if we should grow tired, asking help to keep our hands raised. This is the prayer that Jesus has revealed to us and given us in the Holy Spirit. To pray is not to take refuge in an ideal world, nor to escape into a false, selfish sense of calm. On the contrary, to pray is to struggle, but also to let the Holy Spirit pray within us. For the Holy Spirit teaches us to pray. He guides us in prayer and he enables us to pray as sons and daughters.

The saints are men and women who enter fully into the mystery of prayer. Men and women who struggle with prayer, letting the Holy Spirit pray and struggle in them. They struggle to the very end, with all their strength, and they triumph, but not by their own efforts: the Lord triumphs in them and with them. The seven witnesses who were canonized today also fought the good fight of faith and love by their prayers. That is why they remained firm in faith, with a generous and steadfast heart. Through their example and their intercession, may God also enable us to be men and women of prayer. May we cry out day and night to God, without losing heart. May we let the Holy Spirit pray in us, and may we support one another in prayer, in order to keep our arms raised, until Divine Mercy wins the victory.





Pope Francis   29.06.17 Holy Mass, Saint Peter's Basilica     Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul Apostles    Acts 12: 1-11,    2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 17-18,    Matthew 16: 13-19

Pope Francis Saints Peter and Paul 29.06.17

The liturgy today offers us three words essential for the life of an apostle: confession, persecution and prayer.

Confession. Peter makes his confession of faith in the Gospel, when the Lord’s question turns from the general to the specific. At first, Jesus asks: “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” (Mt 16:13). The results of this “survey” show that Jesus is widely considered a prophet. Then the Master puts the decisive question to his disciples: “But you, who do you say that I am?” (v. 15). At this point, Peter alone replies: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16). To confess the faith means this: to acknowledge in Jesus the long-awaited Messiah, the living God, the Lord of our lives.

Today Jesus puts this crucial question to us, to each of us, and particularly to those of us who are pastors. It is the decisive question. It does not allow for a non-committal answer, because it brings into play our entire life. The question of life demands a response of life. For it counts little to know the articles of faith if we do not confess Jesus as the Lord of our lives. Today he looks straight at us and asks, “Who am I for you?” As if to say: “Am I still the Lord of your life, the longing of your heart, the reason for your hope, the source of your unfailing trust?” Along with Saint Peter, we too renew today our life choice to be Jesus’ disciples and apostles. May we too pass from Jesus’ first question to his second, so as to be “his own” not merely in words, but in our actions and our very lives.

Let us ask ourselves if we are parlour Christians, who love to chat about how things are going in the Church and the world, or apostles on the go, who confess Jesus with their lives because they hold him in their hearts. Those who confess Jesus know that they are not simply to offer opinions but to offer their very lives. They know that they are not to believe half-heartedly but to “be on fire” with love. They know that they cannot just “tread water” or take the easy way out, but have to risk putting out into the deep, daily renewing their self-offering. Those who confess their faith in Jesus do as Peter and Paul did: they follow him to the end – not just part of the way, but to the very end. They also follow the Lord along his way, not our own ways. His way is that of new life, of joy and resurrection; it is also the way that passes through the cross and persecution.

Here, then, is the second word: persecution. Peter and Paul shed their blood for Christ, but the early community as a whole also experienced persecution, as the Book of Acts has reminded us (cf. 12:1). Today too, in various parts of the world, sometimes in silence – often a complicit silence – great numbers of Christians are marginalized, vilified, discriminated against, subjected to violence and even death, not infrequently without due intervention on the part of those who could defend their sacrosanct rights.

Here I would especially emphasize something that the Apostle Paul says before, in his words, “being poured out as a libation” (2 Tim 4:6). For him, to live was Christ (cf. Phil 1:21), Christ crucified (cf. 1 Cor 2:2), who gave his life for him (cf. Gal 2:20). As a faithful disciple, Paul thus followed the Master and offered his own life too. Apart from the cross, there is no Christ, but apart from the cross, there can be no Christian either. For “Christian virtue is not only a matter of doing good, but of tolerating evil as well” (Augustine, Serm. 46,13), even as Jesus did. Tolerating evil does not have to do simply with patience and resignation; it means imitating Jesus, carrying our burden, shouldering it for his sake and that of others. It means accepting the cross, pressing on in the confident knowledge that we are not alone: the crucified and risen Lord is at our side. So, with Paul, we can say that “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken” (2 Cor 4:8-9).

Tolerating evil means overcoming it with Jesus, and in Jesus’ own way, which is not the way of the world. This is why Paul – as we heard – considered himself a victor about to receive his crown (cf. 2 Tim 4:8). He writes: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (v. 7). The essence of his “good fight” was living for: he lived not for himself, but for Jesus and for others. He spent his life “running the race”, not holding back but giving his all. He tells us that there is only one thing that he “kept”: not his health, but his faith, his confession of Christ. Out of love, he experienced trials, humiliations and suffering, which are never to be sought but always accepted. In the mystery of suffering offered up in love, in this mystery, embodied in our own day by so many of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted, impoverished and infirm, the saving power of Jesus’ cross shines forth.

The third word is prayer. The life of an apostle, which flows from confession and becomes self-offering, is one of constant prayer. Prayer is the water needed to nurture hope and increase fidelity. Prayer makes us feel loved and it enables us to love in turn. It makes us press forward in moments of darkness because it brings God’s light. In the Church, it is prayer that sustains us and helps us to overcome difficulties. We see this too in the first reading: “Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the Church” (Acts 12:5). A Church that prays is watched over and cared for by the Lord. When we pray, we entrust our lives to him and to his loving care. Prayer is the power and strength that unite and sustain us, the remedy for the isolation and self-sufficiency that lead to spiritual death. The Spirit of life does not breathe unless we pray; without prayer, the interior prisons that hold us captive cannot be unlocked.

May the blessed Apostles obtain for us a heart like theirs, wearied yet at peace, thanks to prayer. Wearied, because constantly asking, knocking and interceding, weighed down by so many people and situations needing to be handed over to the Lord; yet also at peace, because the Holy Spirit brings consolation and strength when we pray. How urgent it is for the Church to have teachers of prayer, but even more so for us to be men and women of prayer, whose entire life is prayer!

The Lord answers our prayers. He is faithful to the love we have professed for him, and he stands beside us at times of trial. He accompanied the journey of the Apostles, and he will do the same for you, dear brother Cardinals, gathered here in the charity of the Apostles who confessed their faith by the shedding of their blood. He will remain close to you too, dear brother Archbishops who, in receiving the pallium, will be strengthened to spend your lives for the flock, imitating the Good Shepherd who bears you on his shoulders. May the same Lord, who longs to see his flock gathered together, also bless and protect the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, together with my dear brother Bartholomew, who has sent them here as a sign of our apostolic communion.




Pope Francis    17.12.17  Angelus, St Peter's Square    Angelus 3rd Sunday of Advent Year B Gaudete Sunday     1 Thessalonians 5: 16-24,      John 1: 6-8, 19-28


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Pope Francis Angelus 3rd Sunday of Advent 17.12.2017


In recent Sundays the liturgy has emphasized what it means to assume an attitude of vigilance and what preparing the way of the Lord entails, concretely. On this Third Sunday of Advent, called the “Sunday of Joy”, the liturgy invites us to welcome the spirit with which all this happens, that is, precisely, joy. Saint Paul invites us to prepare for the coming of the Lord, by assuming three attitudes. Listen carefully: three attitudes. First, constant joy; second, steadfast prayer; third, continuous thanksgiving. Constant joy, steadfast prayer and continuous thanksgiving.

The first attitude, constant joy: “Rejoice always” (1 Thess 5:16), Saint Paul says. This means always being joyful, even when things do not go according to our wishes; but there is that profound joy, which is peace: that too is joy; it is within. And peace is a joy “at the ground level”, but it is a joy. Distress, difficulties and suffering pass through each person’s life, we are all familiar with them; and so often the reality that surrounds us seems to be inhospitable and barren, similar to the desert in which the voice of John the Baptist resonated, as today’s Gospel passage recalls (cf. Jn 1:23). But the very words of the Baptist reveal that our joy rests on a certainty, that this desert is inhabited: “among you” — he says — “stands one whom you do not know” (v. 26). It refers to Jesus, the Father’s envoy who comes, as Isaiah stresses, “to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (61:1-2). These words, which Jesus will speak in his discourse at the synagogue of Nazareth (cf. Lk 4:16-19), clarify that his mission in the world consists in the liberation from sin and from the personal and social slavery that it produces. He has come to the earth to restore to mankind the dignity and freedom of the Children of God — which only he can communicate — and thereby to give joy.

The joy which characterizes the awaiting of the Messiah is based on steadfast prayer: this is the second attitude. Saint Paul says: “pray constantly” (1 Thess 5:17). By praying we can enter a stable relationship with God, who is the source of true joy. A Christian’s joy is not bought; it cannot be bought. It comes from faith and from the encounter with Jesus Christ, the reason for our happiness. And when we are rooted in Christ, the closer we are to Jesus, the more we find inner peace, even among everyday contradictions. For this reason a Christian, having encountered Jesus, cannot be a prophet of misfortune, but a witness and herald of joy. A joy to share with others; an infectious joy that renders the journey of life less toilsome.

The third attitude Paul points to is continuous thanksgiving, which is grateful love towards God. Indeed, he is very generous to us, and we are invited to always recognize his beneficence, his merciful love, his patience and goodness, thus living in unceasing thanksgiving.

Joy, prayer and gratitude are three attitudes that prepare us to experience Christmas in an authentic way. Joy, prayer and gratitude. Everyone together, let us say: joy, prayer and gratitude. [The people repeat.] Once again! [The people repeat.] In this last period of the Season of Advent, let us entrust ourselves to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary. She is a “cause of our joy”, not only because she begot Jesus, but because she keeps directing us to him.





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The mystery of Christian life is loving our enemies and praying for our persecutors. Forgiveness, prayer, and love for those who seek to destroy us is the path Jesus has laid out for us. The challenge of Christian life is asking the Lord for the grace to bless our enemies and to love them..

To pray for those who want to destroy me, my enemies, so that God may bless them: This is truly difficult to understand. We can recall events of the last century, like the poor Russian Christians who, simply for being Christians, were sent to Siberia to die of cold. And they should pray for the executing government that sent them there? How can that be? Yet many did so: they prayed. We think of Auschwitz and other concentration camps. Should they pray for the dictator who sought a ‘pure race’ and killed without scruple, even to pray that God should bless him? And yet many did so.”

Jesus’ “difficult logic” is contained in his prayer for those who put him to death on the Cross. Jesus asks God to forgive them.

There is an infinite distance between us – we who frequently refuse to forgive even small things – and what the Lord asks of us, which he has exemplified for us: To forgive those who seek to destroy us. It is often very difficult within families, for example, when spouses need to forgive one another after an argument, or when one needs to forgive their mother-in-law. It’s not easy… Rather, [we are invited] to forgive those who are killing us, who want us out of the way… Not only forgive, but even pray that God may watch over them! Even more, to love them. Only Jesus’ word can explain this.

 It is a grace “to understand this Christian mystery and be perfect like the Father, who gives good things to the good and the bad. It would do us well, today, to think of our enemy – I think all of us have one – someone who has hurt us or wants to hurt us. The Mafia’s prayer is: ‘You’ll pay me back.’ The Christian prayer is: ‘Lord, give them your blessing, and teach me to love them.’ Let us think of one enemy, and pray for them. May the Lord to give us the grace to love them.


Pope Francis        09.10.18   Holy Mass  Santa Marta        Luke 10: 38-42
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There are so many Christians, yes, they go to Mass on Sundays, but they are always busy. They have no time for their children, they don’t play with their children. This is bad. “I have so much to do, I’m so busy…” [they say]. And in the end they become worshippers of that religion which is busy-ness: they belong to the group of the busy, who are always doing things… But pause, gaze upon the Lord, take the Gospel, listen to the Word of the Lord, open your heart… No: always the language of the hands, always. And they do good, but not Christian good: a human good. These people lack contemplation. Martha lacked that. [She was] courageous, always going forward, taking things in hand, but lacking peace: losing time gazing upon the Lord.

On the other hand, Mary doesn’t sit around “doing-nothing.” She “gazed upon the Lord because the Lord had touched her heart; and it is from there, from that inspiration of the Lord, that there came the work that she had to undertake later.” This is the rule of St Benedict, “Ora et labora,” “
pray and work,” which monks and nuns incarnate in the cloister, who certainly don’t spend the whole day gazing at the heavens. They pray and work.” And this was especially what St Paul incarnated, as he wrote in the day’s first Reading: “When God chose him,” the Pope said, “he didn’t go off to preach” immediately, but instead “went off to pray,” “to contemplate the mystery of Jesus Christ who was revealed”:

Everything Paul did, he did with this spirit of contemplation, of gazing upon the Lord. It was the Lord who spoke from his heart, because Paul was in love with the Lord. And this is the key for not going astray: “being in love.” In order to know which side we are on, or whether we are exaggerating because we are getting into an overly abstract, even gnostic, contemplation; or whether we are too busy; we must ask ourselves the question: “Am I in love with the Lord? Am I certain, certain that He has chosen me? Or do I
live my Christianity like this, doing things… Yes, I do this, I do that; But what does my heart do? Does it contemplate?

The Pope said it is like a husband returning home from work, and finding his wife waiting to greet him: A wife that is truly in love does not make him comfortable, and then return to her chores; she “takes the time to be with him.” We too take time for the Lord in our service to others:

Contemplation and
service: this is the path of our life. Each one of us can think to ourselves, “How much time each day do I give to contemplating the mystery of Jesus?” And then, “How do I work? Do I work so much that there seems to be an alienation? Or is my work consistent with my faith, work as a service that comes from the Gospel?” We would do well to consider this.


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The Lord wants to teach us how to pray:  wants us to pray with "intrusiveness".
Please be bold, because when we pray we usually have a need. The friend is God: he is a rich friend who has bread, he has what we need. As Jesus said: "In prayer be intrusive. Do not get tired ". But do not get tired of what? Of asking. “
Ask and it will be given to you”.

Prayer is not like a magic wand, it is not that as soon as we ask, we obtain. It is not a matter of saying two "Our Fathers" and then leaving it at that :Prayer requires effort: it asks us for will, it asks for constancy, it asks us to be determined, without shame. Why? Because I'm knocking on my friend's door. God is a friend, and with a friend I can do this. A constant, intrusive prayer. Think of Saint Monica, for example, how many years she prayed like this, even with tears, for the conversion of her son. The Lord eventually opened the door.

In Buenos Aires: a man, a worker, had a daughter who was dying, the doctors had given up hope and he travelled 70 kilometers to go up to the Shrine of Our Lady of Luján. It was night time and the sanctuary was closed, but he prayed all night long imploring Our Lady: "I want my daughter, I want my daughter, you can give her to me." And when morning came he returned to the hospital he found his wife who told him: "You know, the doctors took her to do another test, they cannot explain why she woke up and asked for food, there's nothing wrong, she's fine, she's out of danger" This man, knew how to pray.

Think about capricious children when they want something, they cry and cry saying: "I want it! I want it! "And eventually the parents give up. But some may ask: will not God be angry if I do so? It is Jesus himself who, in anticipating this, told us: If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” He is a friend: he always gives good things. He gives more: I ask you to solve this problem and he solves it and also gives you the Holy Spirit. More. Let's think a little: how do you pray? Like a parrot? Do I really pray with a need in my heart? Struggle with God in prayer in order that he gives me what I need if it is right? We learn from this passage of the Gospel how to pray.


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St. Matthew’s Gospel strategically places the text of the Our Father at the centre of the Sermon on the Mount, which begins with the Beatitudes. This location is significant because it condenses the fundamental aspects of Jesus’ message.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus awards the gift of happiness to categories of people who in His time, and our own, were not very highly regarded: the poor, the meek, the merciful, the humble of heart. The peacemakers who, until then, were on the margins of history, become builders of the Kingdom of God. It is from here, that the newness of the Gospel emerges. The Law is not to be abolished, but requires a new interpretation, finding its fulfilment in the Gospel of love and reconciliation. The Gospel challenges us, the Gospel is revolutionary.

This is the great secret behind the Sermon on the Mount: Be children of your Father who is in Heaven. God asks us to invoke Him with the name of “Father”, to let ourselves be renewed by His power, to reflect a ray of His goodness for a world thirsting for good news. As sons and daughters, brothers and sisters of our Heavenly Father, Jesus invites us to love our enemies, because love has no boundaries.

Before giving us the “Our Father”, Jesus warns us of two obstacles to prayer. He does so by distancing Himself from two groups of His time: the hypocrites and the pagans. We do not pray in order to be admired by others. Rather than just an outward show without inward conversion, Christian prayer has no credible witness other that its own conscience. It is a continuous dialogue with Father.

The second group is that of the pagans, who pray with formality and wordiness, presenting their petitions without a spirit of quiet openness to God’s will. Silent prayer is often enough, placing oneself under the gaze of God, remembering His love as a Father. Jesus tells us to pray like children to a Father who knows what we need before we even ask.

It is beautiful to think that our God does not need sacrifices to win His favour. Our God needs nothing: in prayer He asks only that we keep open a channel of communication with Him so we can recognize we are always His beloved children. Because He loves us so much.




Pope Francis 06.03.19 Ash Wednesday

“Blow the trumpet […] sanctify a fast” (Joel 2:15), says the prophet in the first reading. Lent opens with a piercing sound, that of a trumpet that does not please the ears, but instead proclaims a fast. It is a loud sound that seeks to slow down our life, which is so fast-paced, yet often directionless. It is a summons to stop – a “halt!” –, to focus on what is essential, to fast from the unnecessary things that distract us. It is a wake-up call for the soul.

This wake-up call is accompanied by the message that the Lord proclaims through the lips of the prophet, a short and heartfelt message: “Return to me” (v 12). To return. If we have to return, it means that we have wandered off. Lent is the time to rediscover the direction of life. Because in life’s journey, as in every journey, what really matters is not to lose sight of the goal. If what interests us as we travel, however, is looking at the scenery or stopping to eat, we will not get far. We should ask ourselves: On the journey of life, do I seek the way forward? Or am I satisfied with living in the moment and thinking only of feeling good, solving some problems and having fun? What is the path? Is it the search for health, which many today say comes first but which eventually passes? Could it be possessions and wellbeing? But we are not in the world for this. Return to me, says the Lord. To me. The Lord is the goal of our journey in this world. The direction must lead to him.

Today we have been offered a sign that will help us find our direction: the head marked by ash. It is a sign that causes us to consider what occupies our mind. Our thoughts often focus on transient things, which come and go. The small mark of ash, which we will receive, is a subtle yet real reminder that of the many things occupying our thoughts, that we chase after and worry about every day, nothing will remain. No matter how hard we work, we will take no wealth with us from this life. Earthly realities fade away like dust in the wind. Possessions are temporary, power passes, success wanes. The culture of appearance prevalent today, which persuades us to live for passing things, is a great deception. It is like a blaze: once ended, only ash remains. Lent is the time to free ourselves from the illusion of chasing after dust. Lent is for rediscovering that we are created for the inextinguishable flame, not for ashes that immediately disappear; for God, not for the world; for the eternity of heaven, not for earthly deceit; for the freedom of the children of God, not for slavery to things. We should ask ourselves today: Where do I stand? Do I live for fire or for ash?

On this Lenten journey, back to what is essential, the Gospel proposes three steps which the Lord invites us to undertake without hypocrisy and pretence:
almsgiving, prayer, fasting. What are they for? Almsgiving, prayer and fasting bring us back to the three realities that do not fade away. Prayer reunites us to God; charity, to our neighbour; fasting, to ourselves. God, my neighbour, my life: these are the realities that do not fade away and in which we must invest. Lent, therefore, invites us to focus, first of all on the Almighty, in prayer, which frees us from that horizontal and mundane life where we find time for self but forget God. It then invites us to focus on others, with the charity that frees us from the vanity of acquiring and of thinking that things are only good if they are good for me. Finally, Lent invites us to look inside our heart, with fasting, which frees us from attachment to things and from the worldliness that numbs the heart. Prayer, charity, fasting: three investments for a treasure that endures.

Jesus said: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mt 6:21). Our heart always points in some direction: it is like a compass seeking its bearings. We can also compare it to a magnet: it needs to attach itself to something. But if it only attaches itself to
earthly things, sooner or later it becomes a slave to them: things to be used become things we serve. Outward appearance, money, a career or hobby: if we live for them, they will become idols that enslave us, sirens that charm us and then cast us adrift. Whereas if our heart is attached to what does not pass away, we rediscover ourselves and are set free. Lent is the time of grace that liberates the heart from vanity. It is a time of healing from addictions that seduce us. It is a time to fix our gaze on what abides.

Where can we fix our gaze, then, throughout this Lenten journey? It is simple: upon the Crucified one. Jesus on the cross is life’s compass, which directs us to heaven. The poverty of the wood, the silence of the Lord, his loving self-emptying show us the necessity of a simpler life, free from anxiety about things. From the cross, Jesus teaches us the great courage involved in renunciation. We will never move forward if we are heavily weighed down. We need to free ourselves from the clutches of
consumerism and the snares of selfishness, from always wanting more, from never being satisfied, and from a heart closed to the needs of the poor. Jesus on the wood of the cross burns with love, and calls us to a life that is passionate for him, which is not lost amid the ashes of the world; to a life that burns with charity and is not extinguished in mediocrity. Is it difficult to live as he asks? Yes, it is difficult, but it leads us to our goal. Lent shows us this. It begins with the ashes, but eventually leads us to the fire of Easter night; to the discovery that, in the tomb, the body of Jesus does not turn to ashes, but rises gloriously. This is true also for us, who are dust. If we, with our weaknesses, return to the Lord, if we take the path of love, then we will embrace the life that never ends. And surely we will be full of joy.




Pope Francis    17.03.19    Angelus, St Peter's Square     Luke 9: 28B-36
Pope Francis  17.03.19  The Transfiguration

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

On this Second Sunday of Lent, the liturgy leads us to contemplate the event of
the Transfiguration in which Jesus allows the disciples Peter, James and John a foretaste of the glory of the Resurrection: a glimpse of heaven on earth. Luke the Evangelist (cf. 9:28-36) reveals to us Jesus transfigured on the mountain, which is the place of light, a fascinating symbol of the unique experience reserved to the three disciples. They go up the mountain with the Master, they see him immersed in prayer and, at a certain point, “the appearance of his countenance was altered” (v. 29). Accustomed to seeing him daily in the simple appearance of his humanity, they are astonished as they face that new splendour that also envelops his entire body. And Moses and Elijah appear beside Jesus and speak with Him about his forthcoming “exodus”, that is, of his Paschal death and Resurrection. It is a preview of Easter. Then Peter exclaims: “Master, it is well that we are here” (v. 33). He wished that that moment of grace would never end!

The Transfiguration occurs at a precise moment in Christ’s mission, that is, after he has confided to his disciples that he would have to “suffer many things, [...] be killed, and on the third day be raised” (v. 21). Jesus knows that they do not accept this reality — the reality of the Cross, the reality of Jesus’ death —, and so he wants to prepare them to withstand the scandal of the passion and death on the Cross, so that they may know that this is the way through which the heavenly Father will lead his Son to glory; by raising him from the dead. And this will also be the way for the disciples: no one can reach eternal life if not by following Jesus, carrying their own cross in their earthly life. Each of us has his or her own cross. The Lord reveals to us the end of this journey which is the Resurrection, beauty: by carrying one’s own cross.

Therefore, the Transfiguration of Christ shows us the Christian perspective of suffering. Suffering is not sadomasochism: it is a necessary but transitory passage. The point of arrival to which we are called is luminous like the face of Christ Transfigured: in him is salvation, beatitude, light and the boundless love of God. By revealing his glory in this way, Jesus ensures that the cross, the trials, the difficulties with which we struggle, are resolved and overcome in Easter. Thus this Lent, let us also go up the mountain with Jesus! But in what way? With
prayer. Let us climb the mountain with prayer: silent prayer, heartfelt prayer, prayer that always seeks the Lord. Let us pause for some time in reflection, a little each day, let us fix our inner gaze on his countenance and let us allow his light to permeate us and shine in our life.

Indeed, Luke the Evangelist emphasizes the fact that Jesus was transfigured, “as he was praying” (v. 29). He was immersed in an intimate dialogue with the Father in which the Law and the Prophets — Moses and Elijah — also
echoed; and as he adhered with his entire being to the Father’s will of salvation, including the Cross, the glory of God flooded him, even shining on the outside. This is how it is, brothers and sisters: prayer in Christ and in the Holy Spirit transforms the person from the inside and can illuminate others and the surrounding world. How often have we found people who illuminate, who exude light from their eyes, who have that luminous gaze! They pray, and prayer does this: it makes us luminous with the light of the Holy Spirit.

Let us joyfully continue our Lenten journey. Let us make room for prayer and for the Word of God which the liturgy abundantly offers us these days. May the Virgin Mary teach us to abide with Christ even when we do not understand or comprehend him because only by abiding with him will we see his glory.



Pope Francis   22.05.19    General Audience, St Peter's Square       Catechesis on the Our Father

Pope Francis  22.05.19  General Audience

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today we conclude our series of catechesis on the “Lord’s Prayer”. We can say that Christian prayer arises from the courage to address God with the name ‘Father’. This to say ‘Father’ to God. But it takes courage! It is not so much a matter of a formula, as much as a filial intimacy into which we are introduced by grace: Jesus is the revealer of the Father and he gives us intimacy with him. He “does not give us a formula to repeat mechanically. As in every vocal prayer, it is through the Word of God that the Holy Spirit teaches the children of God to pray to their Father” (ccc, n. 2766). Jesus himself used different expressions to pray to the Father. If we read the Gospels carefully, we discover that these expressions of prayer that come from Jesus’ lips recall the text of the “Our Father”.

For example, on the night of Gethsemane, Jesus prays this way: “Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what thou wilt” (Mk 14:36). We have already cited this text from Mark’s Gospel. How can we fail to recognize in this prayer, albeit short, a trace of the “Our Father”? In the midst of darkness, Jesus invokes God with the name ‘Abba’, with filial trust and, despite feeling fear and anguish, he asks that his will be done.

In other passages of the Gospel, Jesus insists that his disciples nurture a spirit of prayer. Prayer must be insistent, and above all it must carry the memory of our brothers and sisters, especially when we have difficult relationships with them. Jesus says: “whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (Mk 11:25). How can we fail to recognize in these expressions, their consonance with the “Our Father”? And the examples could be numerous, also for us.

We do not find the “Our Father” in Saint Paul’s writings, but its presence emerges in that wonderful summary where the invocation of the Christian is condensed into a single word: ‘Abba!’ (cf. Rm 8:15; Gal 4:6).

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus fully satisfies the request of the disciples who, seeing him withdraw and immerse himself in prayer, decide to ask him one day: “Lord, teach us to pray, as John” — the Baptist — “taught his disciples” (Lk 11:1). And so the Teacher taught them to pray to the Father.

When considering the New Testament as a whole, one can clearly see that the first protagonist of every Christian prayer is the Holy Spirit. But let us not forget this: the protagonist of every Christian prayer is the Holy Spirit. We could never pray without the power of the Holy Spirit. It is he who prays within us and moves us to pray well. We can ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to pray because he is the protagonist, the one who makes the true prayer within us. He breathes into the heart of each of us who are Jesus’ disciples. The Holy Spirit makes us able to pray as children of God, as we truly are by our Baptism. The Holy Spirit helps us pray in the ‘furrow’ that Jesus ploughed for us. This is the mystery of Christian prayer: by grace we are attracted to that dialogue of love of the most Holy Trinity.

Jesus prayed this way. At times he used expressions that are certainly far removed from the text of the “Our Father”. Let us think about the initial words of Psalm 22 that Jesus uttered on the cross: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46). Can the heavenly Father abandon his Son? Certainly not. And yet, his love for us, sinners, brought Jesus to this point: up to experiencing the abandonment of God, his distance, because he took our sins upon himself. But even in his anguished cry, “my God, my God” remains. In that ‘my’ lies the core of the relationship with the Father; there lies the core of faith and of prayer.

This is why, starting from this core, a Christian can pray in any situation. He can adopt all the prayers of the Bible, especially of the Psalms; but he can also pray with many expressions that in thousands of years of history have gushed forth from the heart of mankind. And let us never cease to tell the Father about our brothers and sisters in humanity, so that none of them, particularly the poor, may remain without comfort or a portion of love.

At the end of this catechesis, we can repeat that prayer of Jesus: “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes” (Lk 10:21). In order to pray, we have to make ourselves little so that the Holy Spirit may come within us and may be the One to lead us in prayer.



Pope Francis   21.07.19   Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome   16th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year C    Luke 10: 38-42 

Pope Francis  21.07.19  Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In this Sunday's Gospel passage, Luke the evangelist tells us of Jesus's visit to the house of Martha and Mary, the Sisters of Lazarus (cf. Lk 10: 38-42). They welcome Him, and Mary sits at His feet to listen to Him; she leaves what she was doing to be close to Jesus: she does not want to miss any of His words. As it was for Mary it can be said for each of us. There should be no occupation or concern that can keep us away from the divine master. Everything should always be put aside because, when He comes to visit us in our lives, His presence and His word come before everything else. The Lord always surprises us: when we really listen to Him, the clouds vanish, doubts give way to truth, fears to serenity, and the numerous situations of life find their rightful place. The Lord always, fixes things as well. Even for us.

In this scene of Mary of Bethany at the feet of Jesus, St. Luke shows the
prayerful attitude of the believer, who knows how to be in the presence of the Master in order to listen to Him and to be in harmony with Him. It is a matter of taking a break during the day, of gathering together in silence for a few minutes to make room for the Lord who passes and of finding the courage to remain a little on the side lines with Him in order to then return, with more serenity and effectiveness to the aspects of everyday life. Praising the behaviour of Mary, who has chosen the better part (v. 42), Jesus seems to repeat to each of us: "do not be carried away by things to do but listen to the voice of the Lord, to carry out well the tasks that life gives you."

Then there is the other sister, Martha. Saint Luke says that she was the one who welcomed Jesus (cf. v. 38). Perhaps Martha was the older of the two sisters, we don't know, but certainly this woman had the charism of hospitality. In fact, while Mary is listening to Jesus, she's taken with many services. Therefore, Jesus says to her, "Martha, Martha, you anxious and worried about many things" (v. 41). With these words He certainly doesn't intend to condemn the attitude of
service, but rather the anxiety with which it is sometimes experienced. We also share Saint Martha's concern and, following her example, we propose to make sure that in our families and in our communities, there is a sense of welcome, of fraternity, so that everyone can feel at home, especially the little ones and the poor and those who knock on our door.

Therefore, today's Gospel reminds us that the wisdom of the heart lies precisely in knowing how to combine these two elements:
contemplation and action. Martha and Mary show us the way. If we want to savour life with joy, we must associate these two attitudes: on the one hand, to stand at the feet of Jesus, to listen to Him as He reveals to us the secret of everything; on the other, to be attentive and ready in hospitality, when He passes by and knocks on our door, with the face of a friend who needs a moment of refreshment and fraternity. It wants our hospitality.

May Mary most Holy, Mother of the Church, give us the grace to love and serve God and our brothers and sisters with the hands of Martha and the heart of Mary, so that by always listening to Christ can we be artisans of peace and hope. And this is interesting: with these two attitudes we can become artisans of peace and hope.




Pope Francis      28.07.19   Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome   17th Sunday of Ordinary time - Year C      Luke 11: 1-13

Pope Francis 28.07.19 Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In today's Gospel passage (cf. Lk 11: 1-13), Saint Luke recounts the circumstances in which Jesus teaches the "Our Father" to His disciples. They already know how to pray, reciting the formulas of Jewish tradition, but they also wish to live the same experience of Jesus prayer. Because they can see that prayer is an essential dimension in the life of their master, in fact every major action of His is characterized by prolonged moments of prayer. They also remain fascinated because they see that He does not pray like the other masters of the time, but His prayer is an intimate bond with His Father, so much so that they want to participate in these moments of Union with God, to fully enjoy its pleasantness.

So, one day, they wait for Jesus to end the prayer, in a secluded place, and then ask: "Lord, teach us to pray" (v. 1). Answering the question of the disciples, Jesus does not give an abstract definition of prayer, nor does He teach an effective technique for praying and getting something. Instead, He invites His followers to experience prayer, putting them directly in communication with the Father, awakening in them a longing for a personal relationship with God, with His Father. Herein lies the uniqueness of Christian prayer! It is a dialogue between people who love each other, a dialogue based on trust, supported by listening and open to mutual commitment. It is a dialogue of a son with his father, a dialogue between children and their father. This is the Christian prayer.

Therefore He gives them the prayer of the "Our Father ", which is one of the most precious gifts left to us by the divine master in His earthly mission. After having revealed the mystery of his Son and brother, with this prayer Jesus makes us penetrate into the fatherhood of God; I want to emphasize this: when Jesus teaches us the "Our Father" He makes us enter into the fatherhood of God and shows us the way to enter into a prayerful and direct dialogue with Him, through the path of filial confidence. It is a dialogue between a father and his son, the son with the father. What we ask in the "Our Father" is already realised and given to us in the only-begotten son: the sanctification of the name of God, the coming of the Kingdom, the gift of bread, forgiveness and deliverance from evil. As we ask, we open our hearts to receive. To receive the gifts the Father showed us in his son. The prayer that the Lord has taught us is the synthesis of every prayer, and we always address it to the Father in communion with our brothers and sisters. Sometimes in prayer there are distractions but so often we feel the desire to stop on the first word, "Father" and feel that fatherhood in our hearts.

Then Jesus tells the parable of the persistent man who found himself in need and his friend; and Jesus says : "we must persevere in prayer." Like children do; children between the age of three years and three and a half years: they begin to question everything they don't understand. In my country it is called "the age of why". I think that it is the same here. Children begin to watch dad and ask, "Daddy, why this?, why that?". Ask for explanations. Let us be careful: when Daddy begins to explain why, they come with another question without hearing any explanation. What's going on? It happens that the children feel insecure about many things that are starting to have a half understanding of. They only want to draw on their father's eyes on them and that is why: "why, why, why?". We, in the "Our Father", if we stop on the first word, we will do the same as when we were children, draw on the attention of God Our Father to us. Say, "Father, Father" and also say, "why?" and He will look at us.

Let us ask Mary, woman of prayer, to help us to pray to Our Father united to Jesus so that guided by the Holy Spirit we can live the Gospel message.




Pope Francis  07.09.19 Midday Prayer

Dear Mother Madeleine of the Annunciation,
Dearest Sisters,

Thank you, Mother, for your warm welcome and your kind words, which echo the sentiments of the contemplative nuns of all the different monasteries of this country. I thank every one of you, dear Sisters, for leaving the cloister for a moment in order to show your communion with me and with the life and mission of the entire Church, particularly the Church in Madagascar.

I am grateful for your presence, for your fidelity and for the radiant witness to Jesus Christ that you offer to the community. In this country, there may be poverty, but there is also great richness! For here we find a great treasure of natural, human and spiritual beauty. You too, dear Sisters, share in this beauty of Madagascar, its people and its Church, for it is the beauty of Christ that lights up your faces and your lives. Indeed, thanks to you, the Church in Madagascar is all the more beautiful in the Lord’s eyes and in the eyes of the whole world as well.

The three Psalms of today’s liturgy express the anguish of the Psalmist in a moment of trial and danger. Allow me to reflect on the first of them, taken from Psalm 119, the lengthiest of the Psalter, since it devotes eight verses to each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. No doubt, its author was a contemplative, someone familiar with prolonged and beautiful experiences of prayer. In today’s passage, the word “consume” appears several times and, significantly, in two senses.

The one who prays is “consumed” by the desire to encounter God. You yourselves are a living testimony to this insatiable desire present in the heart of all men and women. Amid the many proposals that claim to satisfy the human heart, but prove incapable of doing so, the contemplative life is the torch that leads to the one eternal fire, “the living flame of love that wounds tenderly” (Saint John of the Cross). You are a visible sign of “the goal toward which the entire ecclesial community journeys. For the Church ‘advances down the paths of time with her eyes fixed on the future restoration of all things in Christ’, thus announcing in advance the glory of heaven”
Vultum Dei quaerere, 2).

We are constantly tempted to satisfy our desire for eternity with fleeting things. We find ourselves adrift on surging seas that only end up overwhelming our lives and our spirit. For this reason, “the world needs you every bit as much as a sailor on the high seas needs a beacon to guide him to a safe haven. Be beacons to those near to you and, above all, to those far away. Be torches to guide men and women along their journey through the dark night of time. Be sentinels of the morning (cf. Is 21:11-12), heralding the dawn (cf. Lk 1:78). By your transfigured life, and with simple words pondered in silence, show us the One who is the way, and the truth and the life (cf. Jn 14:6), the Lord who alone brings us fulfilment and bestows life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10). Cry out to us, as Andrew did to Simon: ‘We have found the Lord’ (cf. Jn 1:40). Like Mary Magdalene on Easter morning, announce to us: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ (Jn 20:18)” (ibid., 6).

The Psalm also speaks of another way of being “consumed”. It speaks of the malicious, who seek to ruin the just. They persecute them, set traps for them, try to bring them down. A monastery is always a space where people consumed by the pain and sorrows of this world can come and find a hearing. May your monasteries, faithful to your charism of contemplation and your constitutions, also be places of welcome and listening, especially for those in greatest need. With us today are two mothers who have lost their children and who embody all the hurt and pain felt by our brothers and sisters on this island. Please be attentive to the pleas and the grief of those in your midst who, consumed by the experience of suffering, exploitation and discouragement, turn to you. Do not be like those who listen only to pass the time, to satisfy curiosity or to have something else to talk about.

You have a fundamental mission in this regard. The cloister sets you in the heart of God; his heart is thus always present in your midst. Your sensitivity to the heart of the Lord will enable you to hear him speaking in your brothers and sisters. The persons around you are often very poor, weak, troubled and hurting in a thousand ways; yet they are full of faith. In you, they instinctively recognize witnesses of God’s presence and invaluable sources of encouragement on the way to encountering him and receiving his help. However great the pain that consumes them, robbing them of joy and hope, and making them feel isolated and alone, you can be a pathway to that rock evoked in another passage from the Psalms: “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Ps 61:1-2).

Faith is the greatest treasure of the poor! How important it is that the faith be proclaimed to them, strengthened within them, and help them to live in hope. May the contemplation of God’s mysteries, which finds expression in your liturgy and your times of prayer, enable you better to discover his active presence in each human situation, even the most troubling, and to be thankful that, in contemplation, God gives you the gift of intercession. Thanks to your prayer, you are like mothers, taking your children upon your shoulders and carrying them towards the promised land. Indeed, “our prayer will be all the more pleasing to God and more effective for our growth in holiness if, through intercession, we attempt to practise the twofold commandment that Jesus left us. Intercessory prayer is an expression of our fraternal concern for others, since we are able to embrace their lives, their deepest troubles and their loftiest dreams. Of those who commit themselves generously to intercessory prayer we can apply the words of Scripture: ‘This is a man who loves the brethren and prays much for the people’ (2 Mac 15:14)” (
Gaudete et exsultate, 154).

Dear contemplative Sisters, what would the Church and those who live on the human peripheries of Madagascar be like without you? What would happen to all those who work in the forefront of evangelization, especially here, in very precarious, difficult and often dangerous conditions? They rely on your prayers and on the ever-renewed gift of your lives, an inestimable gift in the sight of God, one that makes you share in the mystery of the redemption of this land and of the beloved persons who dwell in it.

“For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke”, says the Psalm (119:83), reminding us of how time passes when we experience this two-fold way of being consumed: by God and by the difficulties of the world. At times, almost imperceptibly, we can fall into “listlessness, mere routine, lack of enthusiasm and paralyzing lethargy” (
Vultum Dei quaerere, 11). It makes no difference how old you are, or how difficult it is to walk or to arrive on time for prayers… We are not wineskins drying next to the smoke, but logs burning until they are consumed in the fire which is Jesus. For he never fails us, he covers our every debt.

Thank you for this time we have spent together. I entrust myself to your prayers. To you I entrust all the intentions I carry in my heart during this visit to Madagascar. Let us pray together that the spirit of the Gospel may spring up in the hearts of all your people.



Pope Francis   13.10.19 Holy Mass and Canonization of the Blesseds, St Peter's Square   28th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C     Luke 17: 11-19

Pope Francis  13.10.19

“Your faith has saved you” (Lk 17:19). This is the climax of today’s Gospel, which reflects the journey of faith. There are three steps in this journey of faith. We see them in the actions of the lepers whom Jesus heals. They cry out, they walk and they give thanks.

First, they
cry out. The lepers were in a dreadful situation, not only because of a disease that, widespread even today, needs to be battled with unremitting effort, but also because of their exclusion from society. At the time of Jesus, lepers were considered unclean and, as such, had to be isolated and kept apart (cf. Lev 13:46). We see that when they approach Jesus, they “kept their distance” (Lk 17:12). Even though their condition kept them apart, the Gospel tells us that they “called out” (v. 13) and pleaded with Jesus. They did not let themselves be paralyzed because they were shunned by society; they cried out to God, who excludes no one. We see how distances are shortened, how loneliness is overcome: by not closing in on ourselves and our own problems, by not thinking about how others judge us, but rather by crying out to the Lord, for the Lord hears the cry of those who find themselves alone.

Like those lepers, we too need healing, each one of us. We need to be healed of our lack of confidence in ourselves, in life, in the future; we need to be healed of our fears and the vices that enslave us, of our introversion, our addictions and our attachment to games, money, television, mobile phones, to what other people think. The Lord sets our hearts free and heals them if only we ask him, only if we say to him: “Lord, I believe you can heal me. Dear Jesus, heal me from being caught up in myself. Free me from evil and fear”. The lepers are the first people, in this Gospel, who called on the name of Jesus. Later, a blind man and a crucified thief would do so: all of them needy people calling on the name of Jesus, which means: “God saves”. They call God by name, directly and spontaneously. To call someone by name is a sign of confidence, and it pleases the Lord. That is how faith grows, through confident, trusting
prayer. Prayer in which we bring to Jesus who we really are, with open hearts, without attempting to mask our sufferings. Each day, let us invoke with confidence the name of Jesus: “God saves”. Let us repeat it: that is prayer, to say “Jesus“ is to pray. And prayer is essential! Indeed, prayer is the door of faith; prayer is medicine for the heart.

The second word is to walk. It is the second stage. In today’s brief Gospel, there are several verbs of motion. It is quite striking is that the lepers are not healed as they stand before Jesus; it is only afterwards, as they were walking. The Gospel tells us that: “As they went, they were made clean” (v. 14). They were healed by going up to Jerusalem, that is, while walking uphill. On
the journey of life, purification takes place along the way, a way that is often uphill since it leads to the heights. Faith calls for journey, a “going out” from ourselves, and it can work wonders if we abandon our comforting certainties, if we leave our safe harbours and our cosy nests. Faith increases by giving, and grows by taking risks. Faith advances when we make our way equipped with trust in God. Faith advances with humble and practical steps, like the steps of the lepers or those of Naaman who went down to bathe in the river Jordan (cf. 2 Kings 5:14-17). The same is true for us. We advance in faith by showing humble and practical love, exercising patience each day, and praying constantly to Jesus as we keep pressing forward on our way.

There is a further interesting aspect to the journey of the lepers: they move together. The Gospel tells us that, “as they went, they were made clean” (v. 14). The verbs are in the plural. Faith means also walking together, never alone. Once healed, however, nine of them go off on their own way, and only one turns back to offer thanks. Jesus then expresses his astonishment: “The others, where are they?” (v. 17). It is as if he asks the only one who returned to account for the other nine. It is the task of us, who celebrate the Eucharist as an act of thanksgiving, to take care of those who have stopped walking, those who have lost their way. We are called to be guardians of our distant brothers and sisters, all of us! We are to intercede for them; we are responsible for them, to account for them, to keep them close to heart. Do you want to grow in faith? You, who are here today, do you want to grow in faith? Then take care of a distant brother, a faraway sister.

To cry out. To walk. And to
give thanks. This is the final step. Only to the one who thanked him did Jesus say: “Your faith has saved you” (v. 19). It made you both safe, and sound. We see from this that the ultimate goal is not health or wellness, but the encounter with Jesus. Salvation is not drinking a glass of water to keep fit; it is going to the source, which is Jesus. He alone frees us from evil and heals our hearts. Only an encounter with him can save, can make life full and beautiful. Whenever we meet Jesus, the word “thanks” comes immediately to our lips, because we have discovered the most important thing in life, which is not to receive a grace or resolve a problem, but to embrace the Lord of life. And this is the most important thing in life: to embrace the Lord of life.

It is impressive to see how the man who was healed, a Samaritan, expresses his joy with his entire being: he praises God in a loud voice, he prostrates himself, and he gives thanks (cf. vv. 15-16). The culmination of the journey of faith is to live a life of continual thanksgiving. Let us ask ourselves: do we, as people of faith, live each day as a burden, or as an act of praise? Are we closed in on ourselves, waiting to ask another blessing, or do we find our joy in giving thanks? When we express our gratitude, the Father’s heart is moved and he pours out the Holy Spirit upon us. To give thanks is not a question of good manners or etiquette; it is a question of faith. A grateful heart is one that remains young. To say “Thank you, Lord” when we wake up, throughout the day and before going to bed: that is the best way to keep our hearts young, because hearts can grow old and be spoilt. This also holds true for families, and between spouses. Remember to say thank you. Those words are the simplest and most effective of all.

To cry out. To walk. To give thanks. Today we give thanks to the Lord for our new
Saints. They walked by faith and now we invoke their intercession. Three of them were religious women; they show us that the consecrated life is a journey of love at the existential peripheries of the world. Saint Marguerite Bays, on the other hand, was a seamstress; she speaks to us of the power of simple prayer, enduring patience and silent self-giving. That is how the Lord made the splendour of Easter radiate in her life, in her humbleness. Such is the holiness of daily life, which Saint John Henry Newman described in these words: “The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not... The Christian is cheerful, easy, kind, gentle, courteous, candid, unassuming; has no pretence... with so little that is unusual or striking in his bearing, that he may easily be taken at first sight for an ordinary man” (Parochial and Plain Sermons, V, 5).

Let us ask to be like that, “kindly lights” amid the encircling gloom. Jesus, “stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as Thou shinest: so to shine as to be a light to others” (Meditations on Christian Doctrine, VII, 3). Amen.





Pope Francis  27.10.19 Pan-Amazon Synod

The word of God today helps us to pray through three figures: in Jesus’ parable both the Pharisee and the tax collector pray, while the first reading speaks of the prayer of a poor person.

1. The prayer of the Pharisee begins in this way: “God, I thank you”.

This is a great beginning, because the best prayer is that of gratitude, that of praise. Immediately, though, we see the reason why he gives thanks: “that I am not like other men” (Lk 18:11). He also explains the reason: he fasts twice a week, although at the time there was only a yearly obligation; he pays tithes on all that he has, though tithing was prescribed only on the most important products (cf. Dt 14:22ff). In short, he boasts because he fulfils particular commandments to the best degree possible. But he forgets the greatest commandment: to love God and our neighbour (cf. Mt 22:36-40). Brimming with self-assurance about his own ability to keep the commandments, his own merits and virtues, he is focused only on himself. The tragedy of this man is that he is without love. Even the best things, without love, count for nothing, as Saint Paul says (cf. 1 Cor 13). Without love, what is the result? He ends up praising himself instead of praying. In fact, he asks nothing from the Lord because he does not feel needy or in debt, but he feels that God owes something to him. He stands in the temple of God, but he worships a different god: himself. And many “prestigious” groups, “Catholic Christians”, go along this path.

Together with God, he forgets his neighbour; indeed, he despises him. For the Pharisee, his neighbour has no worth, no value. He considers himself better than others, whom he calls literally “the rest, the remainders” (loipoi, Lk 18:11). That is, they are “leftovers”, they are scraps from which to keep one’s distance. How many times do we see this happening over and over again in life and history! How many times do those who are prominent, like the Pharisee with respect to the tax collector, raise up walls to increase distances, making other people feel even more rejected. Or by considering them backward and of little worth, they despise their traditions, erase their history, occupy their lands, and usurp their goods. How much alleged superiority, transformed into oppression and exploitation, exists even today! We saw this during the Synod when speaking about the exploitation of creation, of people, of the inhabitants of the Amazon, of the trafficking of persons, the trade in human beings! The mistakes of the past were not enough to stop the plundering of other persons and the inflicting of wounds on our brothers and sisters and on our sister earth: we have seen it in the scarred face of the Amazon region. Worship of self carries on hypocritically with its rites and “prayers” – many are Catholics, they profess themselves Catholic, but have forgotten they are Christians and human beings – forgetting the true worship of God which is always expressed in love of one’s neighbour. Even Christians who pray and go to Mass on Sunday are subject to this religion of the self. Let us examine ourselves and see whether we too may think that someone is inferior and can be tossed aside, even if only in our words. Let us pray for the grace not to consider ourselves superior, not to believe that we are alright, not to become cynical and scornful. Let us ask Jesus to heal us of speaking ill and complaining about others, of despising this or that person: these things are displeasing to God. And at Mass today we are accompanied providentially not only by indigenous people of the Amazon, but also by the poorest from our developed societies: our disabled brothers and sisters from the Community of L’Arche. They are with us, in the front row.

2. Let us turn to the other prayer. The prayer of the tax collector helps us understand what is pleasing to God. He does not begin from his own merits but from his shortcomings; not from his riches but from his poverty. His was not economic poverty – tax collectors were wealthy and tended to make money unjustly at the expense of their fellow citizens – but he felt a poverty of life, because we never live well in sin. The tax collector who exploited others admitted being poor before God, and the Lord heard his prayer, a mere seven words but an expression of heartfelt sincerity. In fact, while the Pharisee stood in front on his feet (cf. v. 11), the tax collector stood far off and “would not even lift up his eyes to heaven”, because he believed that God is indeed great, while he knew himself to be small. He “beat his breast” (cf. v. 13), because the breast is where the heart is. His prayer is born straight from the heart; it is transparent. He places his heart before God, not outward appearances. To pray is to stand before God’s eyes – it is God looking at me when I pray – without illusions, excuses or justifications. Often our regrets filled with self-justification can make us laugh. More than regrets, they seem as if we are canonizing ourselves. Because from the devil come darkness and lies – these are our self-justifications; from God come light and truth, transparency of my heart. It was a wonderful experience, and I am so grateful, dear members of the Synod, that we have been able to speak to one another in these weeks from the heart, with sincerity and candour, and to place our efforts and hopes before God and our brothers and sisters.

Today, looking at the tax collector, we rediscover where to start: from the conviction that we, all of us, are in need of salvation. This is the first step of the true worship of God, who is merciful towards those who admit their need. On the other hand, the root of every spiritual error, as the ancient monks taught, is believing ourselves to be righteous. To consider ourselves righteous is to leave God, the only righteous one, out in the cold. This initial stance is so important that Jesus shows it to us with an unusual comparison, juxtaposing in the parable the Pharisee, the most pious and devout figure of the time, and the tax collector, the public sinner par excellence. The judgment is reversed: the one who is good but presumptuous fails; the one who is a disaster but humble is exalted by God. If we look at ourselves honestly, we see in us all both the tax collector and the Pharisee. We are a bit tax collectors because we are sinners, and a bit Pharisees because we are presumptuous, able to justify ourselves, masters of the art of self-justification. This may often work with ourselves, but not with God. This trick does not work with God. Let us pray for the grace to experience ourselves in need of mercy, interiorly poor. For this reason too, we do well to associate with the poor, to remind ourselves that we are poor, to remind ourselves that the salvation of God operates only in an atmosphere of interior poverty.

3. We come now to the prayer of
the poor person, from the first reading. This prayer, says Sirach, “will reach to the clouds” (35:21). While the prayer of those who presume that they are righteous remains earthly, crushed by the gravitational force of egoism, that of the poor person rises directly to God. The sense of faith of the People of God has seen in the poor “the gatekeepers of heaven”: the sense of faith that was missing in [the Pharisee’s] utterance. They are the ones who will open wide or not the gates of eternal life. They were not considered bosses in this life, they did not put themselves ahead of others; they had their wealth in God alone. These persons are living icons of Christian prophecy.

In this Synod we have had the grace of listening to the voices of the poor and reflecting on the precariousness of their lives, threatened by predatory models of development. Yet precisely in this situation, many have testified to us that it is possible to look at reality in a different way, accepting it with open arms as a gift, treating the created world not as a resource to be exploited but as a home to be preserved, with trust in God. He is our Father and, Sirach says again, “he hears the prayer of one who is wronged” (v. 16). How many times, even in the Church, have the voices of the poor not been heard and perhaps scoffed at or silenced because they are inconvenient. Let us pray for the grace to be able to listen to the cry of the poor: this is the cry of hope of the Church. The cry of the poor is the Church’s cry of hope. When we make their cry our own, we can be certain, our prayer too will reach to the clouds.




Pope Francis      16.01.20  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)   Thursday of the First Week of Ordinary Time Year A   Mark 1: 40-45

Pope Francis  Santa Marta 16.01.20

Todays Gospel tells how a leper approached Jesus, saying “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean”. The leper’s request is a simple prayer, an act of confidence — but at the same time, a true challenge. It is plea that comes from the depths of his heart, which also reveals something about Jesus and His compassion for us. Jesus, suffers with and for us, He takes the suffering of others upon Himself, comforting them and healing them in the name the love of the Father.

The phrase, “If you will…” is a prayer that gets God’s attention. It is a challenge, but also an act of confidence: I know that He can do it, and so I entrust myself to Him.

The leper was able to make this prayer, because he saw how Jesus acted. This man had seen the compassion of Jesus. Compassion, not pity, is a refrain in the Gospel — a common theme seen in the story of the widow of Nain, and in the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son:

Compassion gets involved, it comes from the heart and gets involved, and it leads you to do something. Compassion is suffering with, taking the suffering of the other person upon yourself in order to resolve it, to heal it. And this was the mission of Jesus. Jesus did not come to preach the law and then leave. Jesus came in compassion, that is, to suffer with and for us and to give us life itself. The love of Jesus is so great that compassion led Him precisely to the Cross, to give His life.

Let us repeat this little phrase often. Because Jesus has compassion, He is capable of involving Himself in our sorrows, in the problems of others. Jesus, did not come simply to give a few sermons and then return to heaven; not to wash His hands. He came to be close to us, and He remains always at our side.

This expression can be turned into a prayer that we can use every day:

“Lord, if you will, you can heal me; if you will, you can forgive me; if you will, you can help me.” Or, if you want, you can make it a little longer: “Lord, I am a sinner, have mercy on me, have compassion on me”. A simple prayer that can be said many times a day. “Lord, I, a sinner, ask you: have mercy on me”. Many times a day, inwardly, from the heart, without saying it out loud: “Lord, if you will, you can; if you will, you can. Have compassion on me”. Repeat this.

The leper, with his simple and miraculous prayer, was able to obtain healing thanks to the compassion of Jesus, who loves us despite our sinfulness.
He is not ashamed of us. “O Father, I am a sinner, how can I say this?...” This is better! For He came precisely for us sinners, and the greater a sinner you are, the closer the Lord is to you, for He has come for you, the greatest sinner; for me, the greatest sinner; for all of us. Let us make a habit of repeating this prayer, always: “Lord, if you will it, you can do it. If you will it, you can do it”, with confidence that the Lord is close to us; and with His compassion, He will take upon Himself our problems, our sins, our inner diseases, everything.




Pope Francis  26.02.20 General Audience, St Peter's Square    Catechesis on Lent     Matthew 4: 1-4

Pope Francis talks about Lent 26.02.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today, Ash Wednesday, we begin the Lenten journey, a forty-day journey towards Easter, towards the heart of the liturgical year and of the faith. It is a journey that follows that of Jesus, who at the beginning of his ministry withdrew for forty days to pray and fast, tempted by the devil, into the desert. I would like to speak to you today about the spiritual significance of the desert. What the desert means spiritually to all of us, even us who live in the city, what the desert means.

Let's imagine you're in a desert. The first feeling would be to be enveloped by a great silence: no noise, apart from the wind and our breath. Here, the desert is the place of detachment from the din that surrounds us. It is the absence of words to make room for another Word, the Word of God, which as a light breeze caresses our heart (cf. 1 Kings 19:12). The desert is the place of the Word, with a capital W. In the Bible, in fact, the Lord loves to speak to us in the desert. In the desert he gives Moses the "ten words", the ten commandments. And when the people distance themselves from him, becoming like an unfaithful bride, God says, "Here, I will lead you into the desert and speak to your heart. There you will answer me, as in the days of your youth"(Hosea 2:13-14). In the desert you hear the Word of God, which is like a slight sound. The Book of Kings says that the Word of God is like a thread of silence that makes a sound. In the desert we find intimacy with God, the love of the Lord. Jesus loved to retreat every day to deserted places to pray (cf. Luke 5:16). He taught us how to look for the Father, who speaks to us in silence. And it is not easy to be silent in our hearts, because we always try to talk a little, to be with others.

Lent is a good time to make space for the Word of God. It's the time to turn off the television and open the Bible. It's a time to disconnect from your phones and connect to the Gospel. When I was a child there was no television, but there was a custom of not listening to the radio. Lent is deserted, it is a time to give up, to disconnect from our phones and connect to the Gospel. It is time to give up useless words, gossip, rumours and to speak intimately with the Lord. It's time to devote yourself to a healthy ecology of the heart, to clean it. We live in an environment polluted by too much verbal violence, by so many offensive and harmful words, that the web amplifies. Today we insult as if we were saying "Good Morning". We are inundated with empty words, advertising, deceitful messages. We have become accustomed to hearing everything about everyone and we risk slipping into a mundaneness that atrophies our heart and there is no by-pass to heal this, but only silence. We struggle to distinguish the voice of the Lord who speaks to us, the voice of conscience, the voice of good. Jesus, calling us into the desert, invites us to listen to what matters, to the important, to the essential. To the devil who tempted Him He replied, "It is not only by bread alone that man lives, but by every word that comes out of God's mouth" (Matthew 4:4). Like bread, more than bread we need the Word of God, we need to speak with God: we need to pray. Because only before God do the inclinations of the heart come to light and the duplicity of our souls fall. Here is the desert, a place of life, not of death, because dialogue in silence with the Lord gives us life.

Let's try to think of a desert again. The desert is the place of the essential. Let's look at our lives: how many useless things surround us! We chase a thousand things that seem necessary and are not really. How good would it be for us to get rid of so many superfluous realities, to rediscover what matters, to find the faces of those around us! Jesus also sets an example on this, fasting. Fasting is to know how to give up the vain things, the superfluous, to go to the essentials. Fasting is not just about losing weight, fasting is going to the essentials, it is seeking the beauty of a simpler life.

Finally, the desert is the place of solitude. Even today, near us, there are many deserts. They are lonely and abandoned people. How many poor and elderly people stand by us and live in silence, without any noise, marginalized and discarded! Talking about them doesn't create an audience, ratings. But the desert leads us to them, to all those who are silenced, silently ask for our help. So many silent glances asking for our help. The journey through the Lent desert is a journey of charity to those who are weakest.
Prayer, fasting, works of mercy: this is the path in the Lenten desert.

Dear brothers and sisters, with the voice of the prophet Isaiah, God has made this promise: "Here, I will do something new, I will open a path in the desert"(Is 43:19). In the desert the path is opened up that brings us from death to life. Let us enter the desert with Jesus, and we will come out of it savouring Easter, the power of God's love that renews life. The same will happen to us that happens in the deserts that bloom in spring, making buds suddenly, "out of nothing", buds and plants. Take courage, let us enter this desert of Lent, follow Jesus into the desert: with him our deserts will flourish.




Pope Francis   23.03.20    Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)     Monday of the 4th Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II      John 4: 43-54

Pope Francis talks about Prayer 23.03.20

Let us pray today for those persons who are beginning to experience economic problems because of the pandemic, because they cannot work. All of this affects the family. We pray for those people who have this problem.

This father asks for healing for his son (cf. John 4:43-54). The Lord reproves him a bit - all of us, but him as well: "If you do not see signs and wonders, you will not believe" (see v. 48). The official, instead of being silent and keeping quiet, goes ahead and says, "Lord, come down before my child dies." And Jesus said to him, "Go, your son will live."

There are three things that are necessary to make a prayer that is well done. The first is faith: "If you have no faith...". And many times, prayer is only oral, from the mouth, but it does not come from the faith of the heart; or is it a weak faith... Let us think of another father, that of father who has a son possessed, when Jesus responds: "Everything is possible to the those who have faith"; and the father says clearly: "I believe, but increase my faith" (cf. Mark 9:23-24). Faith in prayer. Praying with faith, whether we pray outside [from a place of worship], or when we come here, and the Lord is there: do I have faith or is it a habit? Let us be careful in prayer: do not fall into the routine, without the consciousness that the Lord is there, that I am speaking with the Lord and that he is able to resolve problems. The first condition for a good prayer is faith.

The second condition that Jesus Himself teaches us is perseverance. Some ask but the grace does not come: they do not have this perseverance, because deep down they do not need it, or they do not have faith. And Jesus himself teaches us in the parable of the person who goes to a neighbour to ask for bread at midnight: the perseverance of knocking on the door (cf. Luke 11:5-8). Or the widow, with the unjust judge: who insists and insists and insists: it is perseverance (cf. Luke 18:1-8). Faith and perseverance go together, because if you have faith, you are sure that the Lord will give you what you ask. And if the Lord makes you wait, knock, knock, knock, in the end the Lord will give the grace. But the Lord does not do it to make himself desired, or to say "better to wait", no. He does it for our own good, because we take it seriously. Take prayer seriously, not like parrots: blah blah blah blah and nothing more. Jesus himself reproaches us: "Do not be like the pagans who believe in the effectiveness of prayer and in words, so many words" (cf. Mt 6,7-8). No. It's perseverance. It's faith.

And the third thing God wants in prayer is courage. Someone might think: does it take courage to pray and to stand before the Lord? Yes, it's necessary. The courage to remain there asking and moving forward, indeed, almost... – almost, I do not mean heresy – but almost as if threatening the Lord. Moses' courage before God, when God wanted to destroy the people and he would make him the head of another people. He says, "No. I'm with the people" (cf. Es 32:7-14). Courage. The courage of Abraham, when he negotiates the salvation of Sodom: "And if they were 30, and if they were 25, and if they were 20...": there, courage (cf. Gen 18:22-33). This virtue of courage is very much needed. Not only for apostolic works, but also for prayer.

Faith, perseverance and courage. In these days it is necessary to pray more. Imagine if were to pray like this. With the faith that the Lord can intervene. With perseverance and with courage. The Lord never deludes. He may make us wait. He takes His time but He never deludes.

Spiritual Communion:
At Your feet, O my Jesus, I prostrate myself and offer you the repentance of my contrite heart which is humbled in its nothingness in Your holy presence. I love you in the sacrament of Your love, the Eucharist. I wish to receive you into the poor dwelling that my heart offers you; waiting for the happiness of sacramental communion I wish to possess you in spirit. Come to me, my Jesus, since I come to You. May Your love embrace all my being in life and death. I believe in you, I hope in you, I love you. Amen.



Pope Francis special video to pray for an end to the pandemic March 2020

#PrayForTheWorld

Pope Francis Pray For The World




We seek refuge under your protection, O Holy Mother of God. Do not despise our pleas — we who are put to the test — and deliver us from every danger. O glorious and blessed Virgin.

Let us all pray together for the sick, for the people who are suffering.

I thank all Christians, all the men and women of good will who pray at this moment, in unison, whichever religious tradition they belong to..










Pope Francis  23.04.20   Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae) Thursday of the Second Week of Easter       Acts 5:27-33

 
Pope Francis - Jesus prays for us 23.04.20
In many places one of the effects of this pandemic is being felt: many families are in need, they are hungry and unfortunately groups of loan sharks are helping them. This is another pandemic. The social pandemic: families of people who have a daily job, or unfortunately an undeclared job, who can not work and do not have food ... with children. And then loan sharks take what little they have. Pray. Let us pray for these families, for the many children of these families, for the dignity of these families, and let us also pray for the loan sharks: may the Lord touch their hearts and convert them.


The First Reading continues the story that began with the healing of the crippled man at the Temple's Beautiful Gate. The apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin, then sent to prison, then an angel freed them. And this morning, just that morning, they had to leave the prison to be tried, but they had been freed by the angel and they preached in the Temple (cf. Acts 5:17-25). "In those days, the commander and the court officers brought the apostles and presented them to the Sanhedrin" (v. 27); they went to pick them up in the Temple and took them to the Sanhedrin. And there, the high priest reproached them: "We gave you strict orders, did we not, to stop teaching in that name?" (v. 28) – that is to say in the name of Jesus – "Yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you want to bring this man's blood upon us" (v. 28), because the apostles, Peter above all, they reproved; Peter and John blamed the high priests for killing Jesus.

And then Peter and the apostles replied with the same story: "We must obey God, we are obedient to God, and you are guilty" (cf. Acts 5: 29-31). And he accuses, but with courage, with boldness, but one asks: "But is this the Peter who has denied Jesus? That Peter who was so afraid, that Peter who was also a coward? How did he get here?" And he also ends by saying, "And of these facts we are witnesses as is the Holy Spirit who is with us, who God has given to those who obey him" (cf. 32) This was the journey of Peter to get to this point, to this courage, to this boldness, to expose himself? Because he could compromise and say to the priests: "But rest assured, we will go, we will talk with a little softer tone, we will never accuse you in public, but you leave us alone ...", and arrive at a compromise.

In history, the Church has had to do this so many times to save the people of God. And many times, she has also done so to save herself - but not the Holy Church - the leaders. Compromises can be good and can be bad. But could they get out of the compromise? No, Peter said: "No compromise. You are guilty" (cf. v.30), and he said it with courage.

And how did Peter get to this point? Because he was an enthusiastic man, a man who loved with passion, but also a fearful man, a man who was open to God to the point that God reveals to him that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God, but soon after – immediately – he lets himself fall into the temptation to say to Jesus: "No, Lord, not on this path: let us take the other": redemption without Cross. And Jesus says to him, "Satan" (cf. Mark 8, 31-33). A Peter who went from temptation to grace, a Peter who is able to kneel before Jesus and say: "Leave me for I am a sinful man" (cf. Luke 5:8), and then a Peter who tries to walk away without being seen and not to end up in prison who denies Jesus (cf. Luke 22:54-62). Peter is unstable because he was very generous and also very weak. What is the secret, what is the strength that Peter had to get here? There's a verse that will help us understand this. Before the Passion, Jesus said to the apostles, "Satan has sought you to sift through you like wheat. It is the moment of temptation: "You will be like this, like wheat." And to Peter he says, "And I will pray for you, "that your faith may not fail"" (v.32). This is Peter's secret: the prayer of Jesus. Jesus prays for Peter, that his faith will not fail and that he may , Jesus says – confirm his brothers and sisters in the faith. Jesus prays for Peter.

And what Jesus did with Peter, he does with all of us. Jesus prays for us; prays before the Father. We are used to praying to Jesus to give us this grace, that grace, to help us, but we are not used to contemplating Jesus who shows the Father his wounds, to Jesus the intercessor, to Jesus who prays for us. And Peter was able to go all this way, from cowardly to courageous, with the gift of the Holy Spirit thanks to the prayer of Jesus.

Let's think about this a little bit. Let us turn to Jesus, being grateful that he prays for us. Jesus prays for each of us. Jesus is the intercessor. Jesus wanted to bring his wounds with him to show them to his Father. The price of our salvation. We need to have more confidence; more than in our prayers, in the prayer of Jesus. "Lord, pray for me" – "But I am God, I can give you ..." – "Yes, but pray for me, because you are the intercessor." And this is Peter's secret: "Peter, I will pray for you that your faith will not fail" (Luke 22:32).

May the Lord teach us to ask him for the grace to pray for each of us.





Pope Francis     06.05.20  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace      Catechesis: 1. The Mystery of Prayer      Mark 10: 46-52

Pope Francis  Prayer 06.05.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today we begin a new series of catechesis on the theme of prayer. Prayer is the breath of faith, it is its most proper expression. Like a cry that comes out of the heart of those who believe and trust in God. 

Let's think of the story of Bartimaeus, a character from the Gospel ( Mark 10: 46-52 ) and, I confess, for me the most friendly of all. He was blind, sitting begging on the side of the road on the outskirts of his city, Jericho. He is not an anonymous character, he has a face, a name: Bartimaeus, which means, "son of Timaeus". One day he hears that Jesus would pass by. In fact, Jericho was a crossroads for people, continually passed through by pilgrims and merchants. So Bartimaeus was on the look out: he would do everything possible to meet Jesus. Many people did the same: we remember Zacchaeus, who climbed the tree. Many wanted to see Jesus, even him.

So this man enters the Gospels like a voice screaming out loud. He does not see; he does not know whether Jesus is near or far, but he feels it, he understands it from the crowd, which at some point increased and drew nearer. But he's completely alone, and no one cares. And what does Bartimaeus do? Cries out. And he calls out, and he keeps screaming. Using the only weapon in his possession: his voice. He begins to cry out, "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me" (10: 47). And so he goes on, crying out.
His repeated outcry is annoying, and does not seem polite, and many reproach him, telling him to be silent: "But be polite, don't do that!". But Bartimaeus is not silent, indeed, he cries even louder: "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!" (10: 47). That so beautiful. The stubbornness of those who seek grace and knock, knock at the door of God's heart. He cries out, he knocks. That expression: "Son of David", is very important; it means "the Messiah". It is a profession of faith that comes out of the mouth of that man despised by everyone.
 
And Jesus hears his cry. Bartimaeus' prayer touches his heart, the heart of God, and the doors of salvation open for him. Jesus has him called. He sprang to his feet and those who used to tell him to remain silent, now lead him to the Master. Jesus speaks to him, asks him to express what he desires– this is important – and then the cry becomes a request: "May I see again, Lord!" (10: 51). 

Jesus tells him, "Go, your faith has saved you"(10: 52). He recognizes in this poor, helpless, despised man, the power of his faith in its entirety, which attracts God's mercy and power. 

Faith is having two hands raised, a voice crying out to implore the gift of salvation. The Catechism states that "humility is the foundation of prayer"(Catechism of the Catholic Church,2559). Prayer comes from the earth, from the humus – from which comes "humble", "humility". It comes from our precarious state, from our constant thirst for God (cf. ibid.,2560-2561).

Faith, we have seen in Bartimaeus , is a cry; disbelief stifles that cry. That was the attitude of the people, who were trying to keep him quiet: they were not people of faith, he was. Smothering that cry is a kind of "omertà" (code of silence). Faith is a protest against a painful condition for which we do not understand the reason; to disbelieve is to just suffer a situation that we have adapted to. Faith is the hope of being saved; disbelief is to get used to the evil that oppresses us and to continue like that.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us begin this series of catechesis with the cry of Bartimaeus, so that perhaps in a figure like his everything is already written. Bartimaeus is a persevering man. Around him there were people who explained that crying out was useless, that it would be an unanswered voice, that it was noisy and just disturbed, that would he please stop crying out: but he did not remain silent. And in the end he obtained what he desired. 

Stronger than any argument to the contrary, in the heart of man there is a voice that prays. We all have this voice inside. A voice that comes out spontaneously, without anyone commanding it, a voice that questions the meaning of our journey here below, especially when we are in darkness: "Jesus, have mercy on me! Jesus, have mercy on me!" This is a beautiful prayer. 

But perhaps, these words, are they not inscribed on all of creation? Everything prays and pleads for the mystery of mercy to find its ultimate fulfilment. It is not only Christians who pray: they share the cry of prayer with all men and women. But the horizon can still be broadened: Paul says that all of creation "groans and suffers the pains of childbirth" (Rm 8:22). Artists often become interpreters of this silent cry of creation, which presses into every creature and emerges above all in the heart of man, because man is a "beggar before God" (cf. CCC,2559). It's a beautiful definition of man: "beggars before God." Thank you.




Pope Francis  10.05.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)     Acts 6: 1-7,      John 14: 1-12   
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Pope Francis Prayer 10.05.20

In these past two days, there have been two commemorations: the 70th anniversary of Robert Schuman's declaration, that gave birth to the European Union, and also the commemoration of the end of the war. Let us ask the Lord for Europe today to grow together, in this unity of brotherhood that makes all peoples grow in unity in diversity.


In this passage of the Gospel (John 14: 1-14), is Jesus' farewell speech, Jesus says he is going to the Father. And he says that he will be with the Father and that those who believe in him will accomplish the works that he does and will accomplish even greater than those, because he is going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me something in my name, I will do it. We can say that this passage from the Gospel of John is the declaration of the ascension to the Father. 

The Father has always been present in Jesus' life, and Jesus spoke of it. Jesus prayed to the Father. And many times, he spoke of the Father who takes care of us, and how he takes care of the birds, the lilies of the field. The Father. And when the disciples asked him to how to pray, Jesus taught them to pray the "Our Father". He always goes to the Father. But in this passage it is very strong; and also it is as if he opened the doors of the all powerfulness of prayer. "Because I am going to the Father: whatever you ask in my name, I will do, everything. so that the Father may be glorified in the Son" (John 14: 12-13). This trust in the Father, trust in the Father who is able to do everything. This courage to pray, because it takes courage to pray! It takes the same courage, the same boldness as to preach: the same.

Let us think of our father Abraham, when he - I think it is said - "haggled" with God to save Sodom ( Gen 18: 20-33): "What if they were less? And less? And less?...." Really, he knew how to negotiate. But always with this courage: "Excuse me, Lord, but give me a discount: a little less, a little less...". Always the courage of the struggle in prayer, because praying is to fight: to battle with God. And then, Moses: twice that the Lord would have wanted to destroy the people ( Exd 32:1-35 and Nm 11:1-3) and make him the leader of another people, Moses said "No!". And he said "no" to the Father! With courage! But if you go to pray like this – whispers a timid prayer – this is a lack of respect! Praying is going with Jesus to the Father who will give you everything. Courage in prayer, frankness in prayer. The same that is needed for preaching.

And we heard in the first Reading that conflict in the early days of the Church ( Acts 6:1-7), because Christians of Greek origin murmured – they complained, already at that time this was done: you see that it is a habit of the Church. They murmured because their widows, their orphans were not well cared for; the apostles had no time to do so many things. And Peter, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, "invented", let us say, the deacons. "Let's do something: we're looking for seven people who are good and for these men can take care of this service" ( Acts 6:2-4). The deacon is the guardian of service in the Church. And so these people, who are right to complain, are well cared for in their needs "and we," Peter says, "we will devote ourselves to prayer and the proclamation of the Word" (6: 5). This is the bishop's task: to pray and preach. With this strength that we have felt in the Gospel: the bishop is the first who goes to the Father, with the confidence that Jesus gave, with courage, with the parish, to fight for his people. A bishop's first task is to pray. Peter said it: "And to us, prayer and the proclamation of the Word."

I met a priest, a holy, good parish priest, who when he met a bishop greeted him, always asked the question: "Your Excellency, how many hours a day do you pray?", and he always said this: "Because the first task is to pray." Because it is the prayer of the head of the community for the community, the intercession to the Father to take care of the people.

The bishop's prayer, the first task: to pray. And the people, seeing the bishop pray, learn to pray. Because the Holy Spirit teaches us that it is God who "does things. We do a little bit, but it is he who does the things for the Church, and prayer is the one that carries the Church forward. And for this reason, the leaders of the Church, that is to say, the bishops, must go forward with prayer.

That word of Peter is prophetic: "Let deacons do all this, so people are well cared for and the problems are solved and even their needs. But to us, bishops, prayer and the proclamation of the Word."

It is sad to see good bishops good, good people, but busy with so many things, the finances, and this and that and that and that. Prayer first. Then, the other things. But when other things take away from prayer, something doesn't work. And prayer is strong for what we have heard in the Gospel of Jesus: "I will go to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son"(John 14: 12-13) So the Church progresses, with prayer, the courage of prayer, because the Church knows that without this access to the Father it cannot survive.





Pope Francis  13.05.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace      Catechesis: 2. Christian Prayer      John 15: 15-16

Pope Francis General Audience about Prayer 13.05.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today we take the second step in the journey of catechesis on prayer, which began last week.

Prayer belongs to everyone: to men and women of all religions, and probably also to those who do not profess any religion. Prayer is born within the secrecy of ourselves, in that inner place that spiritual authors often call the heart (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church,2562-2563). To pray, therefore, is not something peripheral in us , it is not some second place or marginal faculty, rather it is the most intimate mystery of ourselves. It is this mystery that prays. Our emotions pray, but it cannot be said that prayer is only emotion. Intelligence prays, but praying is not just an intellectual act. The body prays, but one can speak to God even in the most serious disability. It is therefore every part of the human person who prays, if his or her heart prays.

Prayer is an impulse, it is an invocation that goes beyond ourselves: something that is born in the depths of our person and reaches out, because it feels the nostalgia for an encounter. That nostalgia that is more than a need, more than a necessity: it is a way. Prayer is the voice of an "I" groping, groping, groping, in search of a "You". The meeting between the "I" and the "You" cannot be done with calculators: it is a human encounter and many times we proceed to grope to find the "You" that my "I" is looking for.

Christian prayer, on the other hand, comes from a revelation: the "You" has not been shrouded in mystery, but has entered into a relationship with us. Christianity is the religion that continually celebrates the "manifestation" of God, that is, his epiphany. The first feasts of the liturgical year are the celebration of this God who does not remain hidden, but who offers his friendship to men and women. God reveals his glory in the poverty of Bethlehem, in the contemplation of the Magi, in the baptism at the Jordan, in the wonder of the wedding of Cana. The Gospel of John concludes with a concise statement the great hymn of the Prologue: "No one has never seen God: The only Son, God who is at the Father's side, has revealed him" (John 1:18). It was Jesus who revealed God to us.

The prayer of the Christian enters into a relationship with the God with a tender face, who does not want to incite any fear to men. This is the first characteristic of Christian prayer. If men and women had always been accustomed to approach God a little intimidated, a little frightened by this fascinating and tremendous mystery, if they had become accustomed to venerating him with a servile attitude, similar to that of a subject who does not want to disrespect his lord, Christians turn instead to Him daring to call him in a confident way by the name of "Father". Indeed, Jesus uses the other word: "Dad."

Christianity has banned all feudal relations from the connection with God. In the heritage of our faith there are no expressions such as "subjection", "slavery" or "vassal"; but words like "covenant," "friendship," "promise," "communion," "closeness." In his long farewell address to the disciples, Jesus says thus: "I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, because everything I have heard from the Father I have made known to you. You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you so that you will go and bear fruit and your fruit will remain; so that all you ask in my name of the Father, he will give you"(John 15: 15-16). But this is a blank cheque: "Everything you ask of my Father in my name, I will give you"! So let's try it out.

God is the friend, the ally, the groom. In prayer we can establish a relationship of confidence with him, so much so that in the "Our Father" Jesus taught us to ask him a series of questions. To God we can ask for anything, anything; to explain everything, to tell everything. It does not matter if in our relationship with God we feel at fault: we are not good friends, we are not grateful children, we are not faithful spouses. He continues to love us. It is what Jesus definitively demonstrates in the Last Supper, when he says: "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you" (Luke 22: 20). In that gesture in the upper room Jesus anticipates the mystery of the Cross. God is a faithful ally: if men stop loving, he continues to love, even if love leads him to Calvary. God is always near the door of our hearts and waits for us to open. And sometimes he knocks on the heart but he is not intrusive: he waits. God's patience with us is the patience of a father, of one who loves us so much. I'd say, it's the patience of a dad and a mom together. Always close to our hearts, and when he knocks he does so with tenderness and with much love.

Let us all try to pray like this, entering into the mystery of the Covenant. Let us place ourselves in prayer in the merciful arms of God, to feel embraced in that mystery of happiness that is the Trinitarian life, to feel like guests who did not deserve so much honour. And let us repeat to God, in the wonder of prayer: is it possible that You know only love? He doesn't know hate. He's hated, but he doesn't know hate. He only knows love. This is the God to whom we pray. This is the glowing core of every Christian prayer. The God of love, our Father who waits for us and accompanies us.





Pope Francis  14.05.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)     Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter      Jonah 3: 1-10

Pope Francis Prays for an end to the Pandemic 14.05.20

The Higher Committee for Human Fraternity called for a day of prayer and fasting today, to ask God for mercy at this tragic time of the pandemic. We are all brothers and sisters. St. Francis of Assisi said: "All brothers and sisters." And for this reason, men and women of every religious denomination unite today in prayer and penance to ask for the grace of healing from this pandemic.

In the first Reading we heard the story of Jonah, in a style of the time. Since there was "some pandemic", we do not know, in the city of Nineveh, a "moral pandemic" perhaps, the city was about to be destroyed (Jonah 3: 1-10). And God sends Jonah to preach to them: prayer and penance, prayer and fasting (3: 7-8). In the face of that pandemic, Jonah was frightened and ran away (Jonah 1: 1-3). Then the Lord called him for the second time, and he agreed to go and preach (Jonah 3: 1-2). And today all of us, brothers and sisters of every religious tradition, pray: a day of prayer and fasting, of penance, called by the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity. Each of us prays, communities pray, religious denominations pray, they pray to God: all brothers and sisters, united in the brotherhood that unites us in this time of suffering and tragedy.

We weren't expecting this pandemic, it came most unexpectedly, but now it's here. And a lot of people are dying. So many people die alone and so many people die without being able to do anything. Many times the thought can come: "It hasn't affected me, thank God I'm saved." But think of the others! Think about the tragedy and also the economic consequences, the consequences for education, the consequences... what happens next. And for this reason today, all of us, brothers and sisters, of every religious denomination, pray to God. Perhaps there will be someone who will say, "This is religious relativism and it cannot be done." But how can we not pray to the Father of all? Everyone prays as he knows, how he can, according to his own culture. We are not praying against each other, this religious tradition against this, no! We are all united as human beings, as brothers and sisters, praying to God, according to our own culture, according to our own tradition, according to our own beliefs, but brothers and sisters and praying to God, this is the important thing! Brothers and sisters fasting together, asking God for forgiveness for our sins, so that the Lord may have mercy on us, may the Lord forgive us, may the Lord stop this pandemic. Today is a day of fraternity, looking towards the one Father, brothers and sisters and fatherhood. A day of prayer.

We, last year, indeed in November last year, did not know what a pandemic was: it came like a flood, it came suddenly. We're waking up a little bit now. But there are so many other pandemics that make people die and we don't notice, we look the other way. We are a little unconscious in the face of the tragedies that are happening in the world right now. I would just like to tell you an official statistic from the first four months of this year, which does not mention the coronavirus pandemic, it speaks of another. In the first four months of this year, 3.7 million people died of starvation. There is the pandemic of hunger. In four months, almost 4 million people. This prayer today to ask the Lord to stop this pandemic, must make us think of the other pandemics in the world. There are so many! The pandemic of wars, hunger and many others. But the important thing is that today - together and thanks to the courage that this Higher Committee for Human Fraternity had - together, we were invited to pray each according to their own tradition and to make this a day of penance, fasting and also charity, to help others. That's the important thing. In the book of Jonah we heard that the Lord, when he saw how the people had reacted, had converted, the Lord stopped, stopped what He wanted to do.

May God stop this tragedy, stop this pandemic. May God have mercy on us and stop the other awful pandemics: of hunger, of war, of children without education. And we ask him as brothers and sisters all together. May God bless all of us and have mercy on us.





Pope Francis  20.05.20  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace       Catechesis: Prayer - The Mystery of Creation       Psalm 8: 4-5

Pope Francis Prayer and Creation 20.05.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Let us continue the catechesis on prayer, considering the mystery of creation. Life, the simple fact that we exist, opens the heart of man to prayer.
The first page of the Bible resembles a great hymn of thanksgiving. The story of creation is punctuated by refrains, in which the goodness and beauty of everything that exists is continually reaffirmed. God, with his word, calls into life, and everything enters existence. With the word, he separates light from darkness, alternates day and night, alternates the seasons, opens a colour palette with the variety of plants and animals. In this overflowing forest that quickly overcomes chaos, man finally appears. And this apparition causes an excess of exultation that amplifies satisfaction and joy: "God saw all that he had made, and he found it was very good"(Gen 1: 31). So good, but also beautiful: you see the beauty of all creation!

The beauty and mystery of creation generate in the heart of man the first movement that stirs prayer (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church,2566). This is how the Eighth Psalm, which we heard at the beginning, says: "When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man, that you care for him?" (Psalm 8: 4-5). Man in prayer contemplates the mystery of existence around him, he sees the starry sky that towers over him – and that astrophysics shows us today in all of its immensity – and wonders what the design of love must be behind such a wonderful work!... And, in this boundless vastness, what is man? "Almost nothing," says another Psalm (89: 48): a being who is born, a being that dies, a very fragile creature. Yet, throughout the universe, the human being is the only creature aware of so much profusion of beauty. A small being who is born, dies, here today and gone tomorrow, he is the only one aware of this beauty. We are aware of this beauty!

Man's prayer is closely linked with the feeling of wonder. Man's greatness is infinitesimal when compared to the size of the universe. His greatest achievements seem very little. But man is not nothing. In prayer, a feeling of mercy is overwhelmingly affirmed. Nothing exists by chance: the secret of the universe lies in a benevolent glance that catches our eyes. The Psalm states that we are made as little less than a god, we are crowned with honour and glory(cf. 8: 6). The relationship with God is the greatness of man: his enthronement. By nature we are almost nothing, today we are and tomorrow we are not, but by vocation, by our calling we are the children of the great King!

It's an experience that many of us have had. If the story of life, with all its bitterness, sometimes risks suffocating the gift of prayer in us, it is enough to contemplate a starry sky, a sunset, a flower, to rekindle the spark of thanksgiving. This experience is perhaps the basis of the first page of the Bible. 

When the great biblical account of Creation is written, the people of Israel were not going through happy days. An enemy power had occupied the land; many had been deported, and now they were slaves in Mesopotamia. There was no more homeland, no temple, no social and religious life, nothing.

Yet, starting from the great account of creation, someone begins to find reasons for thanksgiving, to praise God for existence. Prayer is the first force of hope. You pray and hope grows, it goes on. I would say that prayer opens the door to hope. Hope is there, but with my prayer I open the door. Because men of prayer guard the basic truths; they are those who repeat, first to themselves and then to all others, that this life, despite all its labours and trials, despite its difficult days, is filled with a grace at which to marvel. And as such it must always be defended and protected.

The men and women who pray know that hope is stronger than discouragement. They believe that love is more powerful than death, and that one day it will triumph, albeit in times and ways that we do not know. The men and women of prayer reflect light on their faces: because, even on the darkest days, the sun does not stop illuminating them. Prayer illuminates you: it brightens your soul, brightens your heart and brightens your face. Even in the darkest times, even in times of greatest pain.

We are all bearers of joy. Have you thought about this? That you are a bearer of joy? Or do you prefer to bring bad news, things that are sad? We are all capable of bringing joy. This life is the gift that God has given us: and it is too short to consume it in sadness, in bitterness. We praise God, content simply to exist. We look at the universe, we look at the beauties and we also look at our crosses and say, "But, you exist, you did it like this, for you." It is necessary to feel that restlessness of the heart that leads to thanking and praising God. We are the children of the great King, of the Creator, able to read his signature in all creation; that creation that we do not care about today, but in that creation there is the signature of God who did it out of love. The Lord makes us understand this more and more deeply and leads us to say "thank you": and that "thank you" is a beautiful prayer.




Pope Francis   27.05.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace     Catechesis: 4. The Prayer of the Just      Genesis 3: 4: 5: 6:

Pope Francis Prayer of the Just 27.05.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Let us dedicate today's catechesis to the prayer of the just. 

God's plan towards humanity is for the good, but in our every day lives we experience the presence of evil: it is an everyday experience. The first chapters of the book of Genesis describe the progressive expansion of sin in human life. Adam and Eve (cf. Gen 3: 1-7) doubt God's good intentions, thinking they are dealing with a jealous god who prevents their happiness. Hence the rebellion: they no longer believe in a generous Creator, who desires their happiness. Their hearts, yielding to the temptation of the evil one, are taken in by the delirium of omnipotence: "When you eat the fruit of the tree, you will become like God" (cf. v. 5). And this is the temptation: this is the ambition that enters the heart. But the experience goes in the opposite direction: their eyes open and they discover that they are naked (see 7), they don't have anything. Don't forget this: the tempter is a bad payer, he pays badly.

Evil becomes even more disruptive with the second human generation, it is stronger: it is the story of Cain and Abel (cf. Gen 4: 1-16). Cain is envious of his brother: that is the worm of envy; Although he is the eldest son, he sees Abel as a rival, one who undermines his primacy. Evil is in his heart and Cain cannot control it. Evil begins to enter the heart: his thoughts are always to look with evil at the other, with suspicion. And this also happens with the thought: "He is bad, he will hurt me". And this thought enters into his heart ... And so the story of the first fraternity ends in a murder. I think, today, of human fraternity .... wars everywhere.

Cain's descendants develop crafts and arts, but violence also develops, expressed by the sinister song of Lamech, which sounds like a hymn of revenge: "I have killed a man for wounding me and a boy for bruising me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times"(Gen 4:23-24). Revenge: "You did it, you will pay for it." But that's not what the judge says, I say it. And I judge the situation. And so evil spreads like wildfire, to the point of occupying the whole picture: "The Lord saw how great the wickedness of men was on earth and that every intimate intent of their hearts was nothing but evil, always." The great frescoes of the universal flood and the tower of Babel reveal that there was a need for a new beginning, as well as a new creation, which would have its fulfilment in Jesus Christ.

Yet, in these first pages of the Bible, another story is also written, less apparent, much more humble and devout, which represents the redemption of hope. Even though almost everyone behaves atrociously, making hatred and conquest the great engine of human affairs, there are people capable of praying to God with sincerity, able to write the destiny of man in a different way . Abel offers God a sacrifice of first-fruits. After his death, Adam and Eve had a third child, Seth, from whom Enosh was born, meaning mortal, and it is said: "At that time people began to invoke the Lord by name" (4: 26). Then Enoch appears, a man who "walks with God" and who is taken up into heaven (cf. 5: 22,24). And finally there is the story of Noah, a just man who "walked with God" (6: 9), before whom God withholds his plan to destroy humanity (cf. 6,7-8).

Reading these stories, one gets the impression that prayer is an embankment, and man's refuge from the wave of evil that grows in the world. On closer inspection, we also pray to be saved from ourselves. It is important to pray: "Lord, please, save me from myself, from my ambitions, from my passions." The prayers of the first pages of the Bible are men who work for peace: in fact, prayer, when it is authentic, liberates from the instincts of violence and is a gaze toward God, so that he might return to take care of the heart of man. We read in the Catechism: "This kind of prayer is lived by many righteous people in all religions"(CCC,2569). Prayer cultivates flower beds of rebirth in places where human hatred has only been able to sow a desert. And prayer is powerful, because it attracts the power of God and the power of God always gives life: always. He is the God of life, and he renews us.

That is why the God's lordship passes through the chain of these men and women, who are often misunderstood or marginalized in the world. But the world lives and grows thanks to the power of God that these servants attract with their prayers. They are a chain that is not at all noisy, rarely making the headlines, yet it is so important in restoring confidence to the world! I remember the story of a man: an important head of government, not of this time, of bygone times. An atheist who had no sense of religion in his heart, but as a child he heard his grandmother praying, and this remained in his heart. And at a difficult time in his life, that memory came back to his heart and said, "But Grandma prayed ...". So he began to pray with his grandmother's formulas, and there he found Jesus. Prayer is a chain of life, always: so many men and women who pray, sow life. Prayer sows life, small prayer: that is why it is so important to teach children to pray. It pains me when I find children who can't make the sign of the cross. They must be taught to do the sign of the cross well, because it is the first prayer. It is important that children learn to pray. Then, perhaps, they will be forgotten, take another path; but the first prayers learned as a child remain in the heart, because they are a seed of life, the seed of dialogue with God.

God's path and God's story has passed down through them: it has passed through the remnant of humanity that has not conformed to the law of the strongest, but has asked God to perform his miracles, and above all to turn our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh (cf. Ezek 36: 26). And this helps prayer: because prayer opens the door to God, transforming our hearts so often of stone, into hearts of flesh. And it takes so much humanity, and with humanity you pray well.




Pope Francis    03.06.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace      Catechesis: 5. Abraham's Prayer        Genesis 15: 1, 3-6

Pope Francis - Abraham's Prayer 03.06.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

There is a voice that suddenly resonates in Abraham's life. A voice that invites him to set out on a path that sounds absurd: a voice that encourages him to uproot himself from his homeland, from the roots of his family, to move towards a new future, a different future. And all on the basis of a promise, which only needs to be trusted. And trusting a promise is not easy, it takes courage. And Abraham trusted himself to God.

The Bible is silent on the past of the first patriarch. The logic of things suggests that he worshipped other divinities; perhaps he was a wise man, accustomed to searching the sky and the stars. The Lord, in fact, promises him that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars that dot the sky.

And Abraham leaves. He listens to God's voice and trusts his word. This is important: he trusts God's word. And with his departure a new way of conceiving the relationship with God is born; it is for this reason that the patriarch Abraham is present in the great Jewish, Christian and Islamic spiritual traditions as the perfect man of God, capable of submitting to him, even when his will proves difficult, if not downright incomprehensible. 

Abraham is therefore the man of the Word. When God speaks, man becomes the receptor of that Word and his life the place where it seeks to be incarnated. This is a great novelty in the religious journey of man: the life of the believer begins to be conceived as a vocation, that is, as a call, as a place where a promise is fulfilled; and he moves in the world not so much under the weight of an enigma, but with the strength of that promise, which will one day come true. And Abraham believed in God's promise. He believed and went, not knowing where he was going – so says the Letter to the Hebrews ( 11: 8 ). But he trusted.

Reading the book of Genesis, we discover how Abraham lived prayer in continuous fidelity to that Word, which periodically appeared along his path. In summary, we can say that in Abraham's life faith becomes history. Faith becomes history. Indeed, Abraham, with his life, by his example, teaches us this path, this road on which faith becomes history. God is no longer seen only in cosmic phenomena, like a distant God who can strike terror. The God of Abraham becomes "my God", the God of my personal story, who guides my steps, who does not abandon me; the God of my days, the companion of my adventures; the God of providence. I ask myself and I ask you: do we have this experience of God? The "my God", the God who accompanies me, the God of my personal history, the God who guides my steps, who does not abandon me, the God of my days? Do we have this experience? Let's think about it.

This experience of Abraham is also witnessed by one of the most original texts in the history of spirituality: the Memorial of Blaise Pascal. It begins thus: "God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of philosophers and scholars. Certainty, certainty. Feeling. Joy. Peace. God of Jesus Christ." This memorial, written on a small parchment, and found after his death sewn into a philosopher's garment, expresses not an intellectual reflection that a wise man like him can conceive of God, but the living sense, experienced, of his presence. Pascal even notes the precise moment when he felt that reality, having finally encountered it: on the evening of November 23, 1654. It's not an abstract God or a cosmic God, no. He is the God of a person, of a call, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, the God who is certainty, of feeling, of joy.

"Abraham's prayer is expressed first of all by his deeds: a man of silence, at each stage he builds an altar to the Lord"(Catechism of the Catholic Church,2570). Abraham does not build a temple, but spreads the path with stones to commemorate God's passage. A surprising God, as when he visits him in the figure of three guests, whom he and Sara welcome with care and who announce to them the birth of their son Isaac (cf. Gen 18: 1-15). Abraham was a hundred years old, and his wife ninety, more or less. And they believed, they trusted God. And Sara, his wife, conceived. At that age! This is the God of Abraham, our God, who accompanies us.

Thus Abraham becomes familiar with God, able also to discuss with him, but always faithful. To talk to God and discuss. Until the supreme trial, when God asks him to sacrifice his son Isaac, the son of old age, the sole heir. Here Abraham lives the faith as a drama, like a stumbling walk in the night, under a sky this time devoid of stars. And so often it also happens to us, to walk in the dark, but with faith. God himself will stop Abraham's hand ready to strike, because he has seen his truly total obedience (cf. Gen 22,1-19).
Brothers and sisters, let us learn from Abraham, let us learn to pray with faith: to listen to the Lord, to walk, to dialogue, even to argue. Let us not be afraid to argue with God! I will also say something that sounds like heresy. Many times I have heard people say to me: "You know, this happened to me and I got angry with God" – "You had the courage to be angry with God?" – "Yes, I got angry" – "But this is a form of prayer". Because only a son is able to get angry with dad and then make up with him. 

Let us learn from Abraham to pray with faith, to dialogue, to discuss, but always be willing to accept the word of God and to put it into practice. With God, let us learn to speak like a son with his father: listen to him, answer him, discuss. But be transparent, like a son with his dad. This is how Abraham teaches us to pray. Thank you.





Pope Francis  10.06.20  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace      Catechesis - 6. Jacob's Prayer      Genesis 32: 25-30

Pope Francis Jacob's Prayer 10.06.20

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Let us continue with our catechesis on the subject of prayer. The Book of Genesis, through the occurrences of men and women of a far off time, tells us stories that we can reflect on in our own lives. In the Patriarch Cycle, we also find that of a man who shrewdly developed his best talent: Jacob. The biblical account tells us about the difficult relationship Jacob had with his brother Esau. Ever since childhood, there was a rivalry between them, which was never overcome later on. Jacob is the second-born - they were twins - but through trickery he manages to obtain the blessing and birthright of their father Isaac (cf. Gen 25:19-34). It is only the first in a long series of ploys of which this unscrupulous man is capable. Even the name “Jacob” means someone who is cunning in his movements.

Forced to flee far from his brother, he seems to succeed in every undertaking in his life. He is adept at business: he greatly enriches himself, becoming the owner of an enormous flock. With tenacity and patience he manages to marry Laban's most beautiful daughter, with whom he is truly in love. Jacob – as we would say in modern terms – is a “self-made” man; with his ingenuity, his cunning, he manages to obtain everything he wants. But he lacks something. He lacks a living relationship with his own roots.
And one day he hears the call of home, of his ancient homeland, where his brother Esau, with whom he has always had a terrible relationship, still lives. Jacob sets out, undertaking a long journey with a caravan of many people and animals, until he reaches the final step, the Jabbok stream. Here the Book of Genesis offers us a memorable page (cf. 32:23-33). It describes that the patriarch, after having all of his people and all the livestock - and they were many - cross the stream, remains alone on the bank of the river on the foreign side. And he ponders: What awaits him the following day? What attitude will his brother Esau, from whom he stole his birthright, assume? Jacob's mind is a whirlwind of thoughts.... And, as it is getting dark, suddenly a stranger grabs him and begins to wrestle with him. The Catechism explains: “the spiritual tradition of the Church has retained the symbol of prayer as a battle of faith and as the triumph of perseverance” (CCC, 2573).

Jacob wrestles the entire night, never letting go of his adversary. In the end he is beaten, his sciatic nerve is struck by his opponent, and thereafter he will walk with a limp for the rest of his life. That mysterious wrestler asks the patriarch for his name and tells him: “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed” (Gen 32:28). As if to say: you will never be the man who walks this way, straight. He changes his name, he changes his life, he changes his attitude. You will be called Israel. Then Jacob also asks the other: “Tell me, I pray, your name”. The other does not reveal it to him, but blesses him instead. Then Jacob understands he has encountered God “face to face” (vv. 29-30).

Wrestling with God: a metaphor for prayer. Other times Jacob has shown himself able to dialogue with God, to sense Him as a friendly and close presence. But that night, through a lengthy struggle that nearly makes him succumb, the patriarch emerges changed. A change of name, a change in his way of life and a personality change: he comes out of it a changed man. For once he is no longer master of the situation - his cunning is no use to him - he is no longer a strategic and calculating man. God returns him to his truth as a mortal man who trembles and fears, because in the struggle, Jacob was afraid. For once Jacob has only his frailty and powerlessness, and also his sins, to present to God. And it is this Jacob who receives God's blessing, with which he limps into the promised land: vulnerable and wounded, but with a new heart. Once I heard an elderly man - a good man, a good Christian, but a sinner who had great trust in God - who said: “God will help me; He will not leave me alone. I will enter Heaven; limping, but I will enter”. First he was a self-assured man; he trusted in his own shrewdness. He was a man impervious to grace, immune to mercy; he did not know what mercy was. “Here I am, I am in command!”. He did not think he was in need of mercy. But God saved what had been lost. He made him understand that he was limited, that he was a sinner who was in need of mercy, and He saved him.

We all have an appointment during the night with God, in the night of our life, in the many nights of our life: dark moments, moments of sin, moments of disorientation. And there we have an appointment with God, always. He will surprise us at the moment we least expect, when we find ourselves truly alone. That same night, struggling against the unknown, we will realize that we are only poor men and women - “poor things”, I dare say - but right then, in that moment in which we feel we are “poor things”, we need not fear: because God will give us a new name, which contains the meaning of our entire life; He will change our heart and He will offer us the blessing reserved to those who have allowed themselves to be changed by Him. 

This is a beautiful invitation to let ourselves be changed by God. He knows how to do it, because He knows each one of us. “Lord, You know me”, every one of us might say. “Lord, You know me. Change me”.





Pope Francis  17.06.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace       Catechesis on prayer - 7. The prayer of Moses      Exodus 32: 11-14

Pope Francis Prayer of Moses 17.06.20

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In our itinerary on the theme of prayer, we are realising that God never liked to have anything to do with those who prayed the “easy” way. And Moses was not a “weak” dialogue partner either, from the very first day of his vocation.

When God called him, Moses was in human terms a “failure”. The Book of Exodus depicts him in the land of Midian as a fugitive. As a young man he had felt compassion for his people, and had aligned himself in defence of the oppressed. But he soon discovered that, despite his good intentions, it was not justice, but violence that came from his hands. His dreams of glory shattered, Moses was no longer a promising official, destined to rise rapidly in his career, but rather one who gambled away opportunities, and now grazed a flock that was not even his own. And it was precisely in the silence of the desert of Midian that God summoned Moses to the revelation of the burning bush: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God” (Ex 3:6).

Moses opposes God who speaks, who invites him to take care of the people of Israel once more with his fears and his objections: he is not worthy of that mission, he does not know the name of God, he will not be believed by the Israelites, he has a stammering tongue… so many other objections. The word that appears most frequently on Moses’s lips, in every prayer he addresses to God, is the question: “Why?” Why have you sent me? Why do you want to free this people? Why? There is even a dramatic passage in the Pentateuch, where God reproaches Moses for his lack of trust, a lack that will prevent him from entering the promised land (cf. Nm 20:12).

With these fears, with this heart that often falters, how can Moses pray? Rather, Moses appears human like us. And this happens to us too: when we have doubts, how can we pray? It is not easy for us to pray. And it is because of his weakness, as well as his strength, that we are impressed. Entrusted by God to transmit the Law to his people, founder of divine worship, mediator of the highest mysteries, he will not for this reason cease to maintain close bonds of solidarity with his people, especially in the hour of temptation and sin. He was always attached to his people. Moses never forgets his people. And this is the greatness of pastors: not forgetting the people, not forgetting one’s roots. And just as Paul says to his beloved young Bishop Timothy: “Remember your mother and your grandmother, your roots, your people”. Moses is so friendly with God that he can speak with Him face to face (see Ex 33:11); and he will remain so friendly with other people that he feels mercy for their sins, for their temptations, for the sudden nostalgia that the exiles feel for the past, recalling when they were in Egypt.

Moses does not reject God, but nor does he reject his people. He is faithful to his flesh and blood, he is faithful to God’s voice. Moses is not therefore an authoritarian and despotic leader; the Book of Numbers defines him rather as “a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Nm 12:3). Despite his privileged status, Moses never ceased to belong to the numbers of the poor in spirit who live by trusting in God as the viaticum of their journey. He is a man of his people.

Thus, the way of praying most proper to Moses is through intercession (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2574). His faith in God is completely at one with his sense of fatherhood towards his people. Scripture habitually depicts him with his hands outstretched towards God, as if to form a bridge between heaven and earth with his own person. Even in the most difficult moments, even on the day when the people repudiate God and him as a guide and make themselves a golden calf, Moses does not feel like putting his people aside. They are my people. They are your people. They are my people. He does not reject either God or his people. And he says to God: “Ah, this people has committed a grave sin in making a god of gold for themselves! Now if you would only forgive their sin! But if you will not” - if you do not forgive this sin - “then blot me out of the book that you have written” (Ex 32:31-32). Moses does not barter his people. He is the bridge, the one intercessor. Both of them, the people and God, and he is in the middle. He does not sell out his people to advance his career. He does not climb the ladder, he is an intercessor: for his people, for his flesh and blood, for his history, for his people and for the God who called him. He is the bridge. What a beautiful example for all pastors who must be “bridges”. This is why they are called pontifex, bridges. Pastors are the bridges between the people, to whom they belong, and God, to whom they belong by vocation. This is what Moses is. “If you would only forgive their sin! But if you will not, then blot me out of the book that you have written. I do not want to get ahead at the expense of my people”.

And this is the prayer that true believers cultivate in their spiritual life. Even if they experience the shortcomings of people and their distance from God, in prayer they do not condemn them, they do not reject them. The intercessory attitude is proper to the saints who, in imitation of Jesus, are “bridges” between God and His people. Moses, in this sense, was the first great prophet of Jesus, our advocate and intercessor (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2577). And today, too, Jesus is the pontifex, He is the bridge between us and the Father. And Jesus intercedes for us, He shows the Father the wounds that are the price of our salvation, and He intercedes. And Moses is the figure of Jesus who today prays for us, intercedes for us.

Moses urges us to pray with the same ardour as Jesus, to intercede for the world, to remember that despite all its frailties, it still belongs to God. Everyone belongs to God. The worst sinners, the wickedest people, the most corrupt leaders, they are children of God, and Jesus feels this and intercedes for everyone. And the world lives and thrives thanks to the blessing of the righteous, to the prayer for mercy, this prayer for mercy that the saint, the righteous, the intercessor, the priest, the bishop, the Pope, the layperson, any baptised person incessantly raises up for humanity, in every place and time in history.
Let us think of Moses, the intercessor. And when we want to condemn someone and we become angry inside… to get angry is good it can be healthy - while to condemn does no good, let us intercede for him or her; this will help us a lot.




Pope Francis  24.06.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace    Catechesis on prayer - 8.   The prayer of David      Psalm 18: 2-3, 29, 33

Pope Francis David's Prayer 24.06.20

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

On the itinerary for the catechesis on prayer, today we meet King David. Favoured by God even from his youth, he is chosen for a unique mission that would play a central role in the history of the people of God and in our own faith. In the Gospels, Jesus is called “son of David” a number of times; like him, in fact, He is born in Bethlehem. According to the promises, the Messiah would come from the descendants of David: a King completely after God’s heart, in perfect obedience to the Father, whose action faithfully realises His plan of salvation (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2579).

David’s story begins on the hills surrounding Bethlehem, where he grazes the flock of his father, Jesse. He is still a boy, the last of many brothers. So much so that when the prophet Samuel, acting on God’s order, goes in search of the new king, it almost seems that his father has forgotten about his youngest son (see 1 Sam 16:1-13). He worked in the open air: we can think of him as a friend of the wind, of the sounds of nature, of the sun’s rays. He has only one companion to comfort his soul: his harp; and during those long days spent in solitude, he loves to play and to sing to his God. He also played with the slingshot.

David is, therefore, first of all a shepherd: a man who takes care of animals, who defends them from oncoming danger, who provides for their sustenance. When by God’s will David will have to care for his people, the things he will do will not be very different. This is why the image of the shepherd frequently occurs in the Bible. Even Jesus defined Himself as “the good shepherd”, whose behaviour is different than that of the mercenary; He offers His life on behalf of the sheep, He guides them, He knows each one by name (see Jn 10:11-18).

David had learned a lot from his previous job. So, when the prophet Nathan reproves him for his very serious sin (see 2 Sam 12:1-15), David understands right away that he had been a bad shepherd, that he had despoiled another man of his only sheep that he loved, that he was no longer a humble servant, but a man who was crazy for power, a poacher who looted and preyed on others.

A second characteristic trait present in David’s vocation is his poet’s soul. From this small observation, we can deduce that David was not a vulgar man, as is often the case with individuals who are forced to live for long periods in isolation from society. He is, instead, a sensitive person who loves music and singing. His harp would accompany him always: sometimes to raise a hymn of joy to God (see 2 Sam 6:16), other times to express a lament, or to confess his own sin (see Ps 51:3).

The world that presented itself before his eyes was not a silent scene: as things unravelled before his gaze he observed a greater mystery. That is exactly where prayer arises: from the conviction that life is not something that takes us by surprise, but a stupefying mystery that inspires poetry, music, gratitude, praise, even lament and supplication in us. When a person lacks that poetic dimension, let’s say, when poetry is missing, his or her soul limps. Thus, tradition has it that David is the great artist behind the composition of the Psalms. Many of them at the beginning bear an explicit reference to the king of Israel, and to some of the more or less noble events of his life.

David, therefore, has a dream: that of being a good shepherd. Sometimes he will live up that that task, other times less so; what is important, however, in the context of the history of salvation, is that he is a prophecy of another King, whom he merely announces and prefigures.

Look at David, think about David. Holy and sinful, persecuted and persecutor, victim and murderer, which is a contradiction. David was all of this, together. And we too have recorded events in our lives that are often opposed to each other; in the drama of life, all people often sin because of inconsistency. There is one single golden thread running through David’s life, that gave unity to everything that happened: his prayer. That is the voice that was never extinguished. David the saint prays: David the sinner prays; David, persecuted, prays; David the persecutor prays. Even David the murderer prays. This is the golden thread running through his life. A man of prayer. That is the voice that is never silenced. Whether it assumed tones of jubilation or lament, it is always the same prayer, it is only the melody that changes. In so doing, David teaches us to let everything enter into dialogue with God: joy as well as guilt, love as well as suffering, friendship as much as sickness. Everything can become a word spoken to the “You” who always listens to us.

David, who knew solitude, was in reality never alone! In the end, this is the power of prayer in all those who make space for it in their lives. Prayer gives you nobility, and David is noble because he prays. But he is a murderer who prays; he repents and his nobility returns thanks to prayer. Prayer gives us nobility. It is capable of securing the relationship with God who is the true Companion on the journey of every man and woman, in the midst of life’s thousand adversities, good or bad: but always prayer. Thank you, Lord. I am afraid, Lord. Help me, Lord. Forgive me, Lord. David’s trust is so great that, when he was persecuted and had to flee, he did not let anyone defend him: “If my God humiliates me thus, He knows what He is doing”, because the nobility of prayer leaves us in God’s hands. Those hands wounded by love: the only sure hands we have.




Pope Francis       21.09.20 Clementine Hall       Audience with Autistic Children and Young People of the Sonnenschein Clinic, Austria

Pope Francis Autistic Children and Young People Audience 21.09.20 Each flower has its own beauty

Dear children, dear parents, your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen!

I welcome you here in the Vatican. I am pleased to see your faces, and I can read in your eyes that you are happy to be with me for a while.

Your home is called “Sonnenschein”, that is, “sunshine”. I can imagine why those responsible chose this name. Because your home seems like a magnificent meadow of flowers in the sunshine, and you are the flowers of that House! God created the world with a great variety of flowers in every colour. Each flower has its own beauty, which is unique. And each one of us is beautiful in the eyes of God, and He loves us. This makes us feel the need to say to God: thank you! Thank you for the gift of life, for all creatures! Thank you for mum and dad! Thank you for our families! And thank you for the friends of the “Sonnenschein” Centre!

Saying this “thank you” to God is a beautiful prayer. God likes this way of praying. Then you can also add a small question. For example: Good Jesus, could you help mum and dad in their work? Could you give a little comfort to Grandma, who is sick? Could you provide for all the children in the world who have nothing to eat? Or: Jesus, I pray to you to help the Pope to guide the Church well. If you ask with faith, the Lord will certainly listen to you.

Finally, I express my gratitude to your parents, to the people who accompany you, to the president of the Region and all those present. Thank you for this beautiful initiative and for your commitment to the children entrusted to you. Everything that you have done to just one of these little ones, you have done to Jesus! I remember you in my prayer. May Jesus bless you always and Our Lady protects you.

Und bitte vergesst nicht, für mich zu beten. Diese Arbeit ist nicht einfach. Betet für mich bitte. Danke schön! (And please do not forget to pray for me. This work is not easy. Pray for me please. Thank you!).






Pope Francis        07.10.20 General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall         Catechesis on prayer - 9. Elijah's prayer           1 Kings 19: 11-13


Pope Francis  - Elijah's prayer  - General Audience 07.10.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Let us resume today our catechesis on prayer, which we have interrupted for the catechesis on the care of creation, and which we will now resume; and let us meet one of the most compelling characters in the whole of Sacred Scripture: the prophet Elijah. He goes beyond the confines of his time, and we can also see his presence in some episodes of the Gospel. He appeared at Jesus' side, together with Moses, at the moment of the Transfiguration (cf. Mt 17:3). Jesus Himself refers to him to give credit to the testimony of John the Baptist (cf. Mt 17:10-13).

In the Bible, Elijah appears suddenly, in a mysterious way, coming from a small village that is completely marginal (cf. 1 Kings 17:1); and in the end he leaves the scene, under the eyes of the disciple Elisha, on a chariot of fire that takes him to heaven (cf. 2 Kings 2:11-12). He is therefore a man without a precise origin, and above all without an end, taken up into heaven: for this reason his return was expected before the coming of the Messiah, as a precursor. In this way the return of Elijah was awaited.

Scripture presents Elijah as a man of crystalline faith: his very name, which may mean “Yahweh is God”, encloses the secret of his mission. He will be like this for the rest of his life: a man of integrity, incapable of petty compromises. His symbol is fire, the image of God's purifying power. He will be the first to be put to the test, and he will remain faithful. He is the example of all people of faith who know temptation and suffering, but do not fail to live up to the ideal for which they were born.

Prayer is the lifeblood that constantly nourishes his existence. For this reason, he is one of those most dear to the monastic tradition, so much so that some have elected him as the spiritual father of the life consecrated to God. Elijah is the man of God, who stands as a defender of the primacy of the Most High. And yet, he too is forced to come to terms with his own frailties. It is difficult to say which experiences were most useful to him: the defeat of the false prophets on Mount Carmel (cf. 1 Kings 18:20-40), or his bewilderment in which he finds that he is “no better than his ancestors” (see 1 Kings 19:4). In the soul of those who pray, the sense of their own weakness is more precious than moments of exaltation, when it seems that life is a series of victories and successes. This always happens in prayer: moments of prayer that we feel lift us up, even of enthusiasm, and moments of prayer of pain, aridity, trial. This is what prayer is: letting ourselves be carried by God, and also letting ourselves be struck by unpleasant situations and even temptations. This is a reality found in many other biblical vocations, even in the New Testament; think, for example, of St Peter and St Paul. Their lives were like this too: moments of exultation and moments of low spirits, of suffering.

Elijah is the man of contemplative life and, at the same time, of active life, preoccupied with the events of his time, capable of clashing with the king and queen after they had Nabot killed to take possession of his vineyard (cf. 1 Kings 21:1-24). How much we are in need of believers, of zealous Christians, who act before people who have managerial responsibility with the courage of Elijah, to say, “This must not be done! This is murder!”. We need Elijah’s spirit. He shows us that there should be no dichotomy in the life of those who pray: one stands before the Lord and goes towards the brothers to whom He sends us. Prayer is not about locking oneself up with the Lord to make one’s soul appear beautiful: no, this is not prayer, this is false prayer. Prayer is a confrontation with God, and letting oneself be sent to serve one’s brothers and sisters. The proof of prayer is the real love of one’s neighbour. And vice versa: believers act in the world after having first kept silent and prayed; otherwise, their action is impulsive, it is devoid of discernment, it is rushing without a destination. Believers behave in this way, they do so many injustices because they did not go to pray to the Lord first, to discern what they must do.

The pages of the Bible suggest that Elijah's faith also made progress: he too grew in prayer, he refined it little by little. The face of God came into focus for him as he walked. He reached his peak in that extraordinary experience, when God manifested Himself to Elijah on the mount (cf. 1 Kings 19:9-13). He manifests himself not in the storm, not in the earthquake or the devouring fire, but in “a light murmuring sound” (v. 12). Or better, a translation that reflects that experience well: in a thread of resounding silence. This is how God manifests Himself to Elijah. It is with this humble sign that God communicates with Elijah, who at that moment is a fugitive prophet who has lost peace. God comes forward to meet a tired man, a man who thought he had failed on all fronts, and with that gentle breeze, with that thread of resounding silence, He brings calm and peace back into the heart.

This is the story of Elijah, but it seems written for all of us. In some evenings we can feel useless and lonely. It is then that prayer will come and knock on the door of our hearts. We can all gather a corner of Elijah's cloak, just as his disciple Elisha collected half his cloak. And even if we have done something wrong, or if we feel threatened and frightened, when we return before God with prayer, serenity and peace will return as if by miracle. This is what the example of Elijah shows us.





Pope Francis        14.10.20 General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall        Catechesis on prayer - 10. The Prayer of the Psalms. 1            Psalm 13: 2-3, 6

Pope Francis The Prayer of the Psalms - General Audience 14.10.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

As we read the Bible, we continually come across prayers of various types. But we also find a book made up solely of prayers, a book that has become the native land, gymnasium and home of countless men and women of prayer. It is the Book of Psalms. There are 150 Psalms to pray.

It forms part of the books of wisdom, because it communicates “knowing how to pray” through the experience of dialogue with God. In the Psalms we find all human sentiments: the joys, the sorrows, the doubts, the hopes, the bitterness that colour our lives. The Catechism affirms that every Psalm “possesses such direct simplicity that it can be prayed in truth by men of all times and conditions” (CCC, 2588). As we read and reread the Psalms, we learn the language of prayer. God the Father, indeed, with His Spirit, inspired them in the heart of King David and others who prayed, in order to teach every man and woman how to praise Him, how to thank Him and to supplicate; how to invoke Him in joy and in suffering, and how to recount the wonders of His works and of His Law. In short, the Psalms are the word of God that we human beings use to speak with Him.

In this book we do not encounter ethereal people, abstract people, those who confuse prayer with an aesthetic or alienating experience. The Psalms are not texts created on paper; they are invocations, often dramatic, that spring from lived existence. To pray them it is enough for us to be what we are. We must not forget that to pray well we must pray as we are, without embellishment. One must not embellish the soul to pray. “Lord, I am like this”, and go in front of the Lord as we are, with the good things and also with the bad things that no-one knows about, but that we inwardly know. In the Psalms we hear the voices of men and women of prayer in flesh and blood, whose life, like that of us all, is fraught with problems, hardships and uncertainties. The Psalmist does not radically contest this suffering: he knows that it is part of living. In the Psalms, however, suffering is transformed into a question. From suffering to questioning.

And among the many questions, there is one that remains suspended, like an incessant cry that runs throughout the entire book from beginning to end. A question that we repeat many times: “Until when, Lord? Until when?” Every suffering calls for liberation, every tear calls for consolation, every wound awaits healing, every slander a sentence of absolution. “Until when, Lord, must I suffer this? Listen to me, Lord!” How many times we have prayed like this, with “Until when?”, enough now, Lord!

By constantly asking such questions, the Psalms teach us not to get used to pain, and remind us that life is not saved unless it is healed. The existence of each human being is but a breath, his or her story is fleeting, but the prayerful know that they are precious in the eyes of God, and so it makes sense to cry out. And this is important. When we pray, we do so because we know we are precious in God’s eyes. It is the grace of the Holy Spirit that, from within, inspires in us this awareness: of being precious in the eyes of God. And this is why we are moved to pray.

The prayer of the Psalms is the testimony of this cry: a multiple cry, because in life pain takes a thousand forms, and takes the name of sickness, hatred, war, persecution, distrust... Until the supreme “scandal”, that of death. Death appears in the Psalter as man’s most unreasonable enemy: what crime deserves such cruel punishment, which involves annihilation and the end? The prayer of the Psalms asks God to intervene where all human efforts are in vain. That is why prayer, in and of itself, is the way of salvation and the beginning of salvation.

Everyone suffers in this world: whether they believe in God or reject Him. But in the Psalter, pain becomes a relationship, rapport: a cry for help waiting to intercept a listening ear. It cannot remain meaningless, without purpose. Even the pains we suffer cannot be merely specific cases of a universal law: they are always “my” tears,. Think about this: tears are not universal, they are “my” tears. Everyone has their own. “My” tears and “my” pain drive me to go ahead in prayer. They are “my” tears, that no one has ever shed before me. Yes, they have wept, many. But “my” tears are mine, “My” pain is my own, “my” suffering is my own.

Before entering the Hall, I met the parents of that priest of the diocese of Como who was killed: he was killed precisely in his service to others. The tears of those parents are their own tears, and each one of them knows how much he or she has suffered in seeing this son who gave his life in service to the poor. When we want to console somebody, we cannot find the words. Why? Because we cannot arrive at his or her pain, because her sorrows are her own, his tears are his own. The same is true of us: the tears, the sorrow, the tears are mine, and with these tears, with this sorrow I turn to the Lord.

All human pains for God are sacred. So prays the prayer of Psalm 56: “Thou hast kept count of my tossings; put thou my tears in thy bottle! Are they not in thy book?” (v. 9). Before God we are not strangers, or numbers. We are faces and hearts, known one by one, by name.

In the Psalms, the believer finds an answer. He knows that even if all human doors were barred, God’s door is open. Even if the whole world had issued a verdict of condemnation, there is salvation in God.

“The Lord listens”: sometimes in prayer it is enough to know this. Problems are not always solved. Those who pray are not deluded: they know that many questions of life down here remain unresolved, with no way out; suffering will accompany us and, after one battle, others will await us. But if we are listened to, everything becomes more bearable.

The worst thing that can happen is to suffer in abandonment, without being remembered. From this prayer saves us. Because it can happen, and even often, that we do not understand God’s plans. But our cries do not stagnate down here: they rise up to Him, He who has the heart of a Father, and who cries Himself for every son and daughter who suffers and dies. I will tell you something: it is good for me, in difficult moments, to think of Jesus weeping; when He wept looking at Jerusalem, when He wept before Lazarus’ tomb. God has wept for me, God weeps, He weeps for our sorrows. Because God wanted to make Himself man - a spiritual writer used to say - in order to be able to weep. To think that Jesus weeps with me in sorrow is a consolation: it helps us keep going. If we maintain our relationship with Him, life does not spare us suffering, but we open up to a great horizon of goodness and set out towards its fulfilment. Take courage, persevere in prayer. Jesus is always by our side.





Pope Francis   21.10.20 General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall        Catechesis on prayer - 11. The Prayer of the Psalms. 2       Psalm 36: 2-4, 6, 8, 9

Pope Francis General Audience 21.10.20 The Prayer of the Psalms

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today, we need to change a bit the way the audience is conducted because of the coronavirus. You are separated, with the protection of masks as well, and I am here, a bit distant and I cannot do what I always do, coming near you, because every time I do that all of you come together and do not maintain distance and there is the danger of contagion for you. I apologize for this, but it is for your safety. Instead of coming near you and shaking your hands and greeting you, we have to greet each other from a distance, but know that I am near you with my heart. I hope that you understand why I am doing this. Also, while the readers were reading the biblical passage, my attention was caught by that baby boy or girl over there who was crying, and I was watching the mamma who was cuddling and nursing the baby and I said: this is what God does with us, like that mamma. With what tenderness she was trying to comfort and nurse the baby. They are beautiful images. And when it happens that a baby cries in Church, listening to that and feeling that tenderness of a mamma there, like today, and thanks for your witnesses, and there is the tenderness of a mamma who is the symbol of God’s tenderness with us. Never silence a crying baby in Church, never, because it is the voice that attracts God’s tenderness. Thank you for your witness.

Today we will complete the catechesis on the prayer of the Psalms. Above all, we see how there often appears a negative figure in the Psalms, called the “wicked” person, that is, he or she who lives as if God does not exist. This is the person without any reference to the transcendent, whose arrogance has no limits, who fears no judgment regarding what he or she thinks or does.

For this reason, the Psalter presents prayer as the fundamental reality of life. The reference to the absolute and to the transcendent – which the spiritual masters call the “holy fear of God” – and which makes us completely human; it is the boundary that saves us from ourselves, preventing us from venturing into life in a predatory and voracious manner. Prayer is the salvation of the human being.

There certainly also exists a false prayer, a prayer said only for the admiration of others. The person or those persons who go to Mass only to show that they are Catholics or to show off the latest fashion that they acquired, or to make a good impression in society. They are recite a false prayer. Jesus strongly admonished against such prayer (see Mt 6:5-6; Lk 9:14). But when the true spirit of prayer is sincerely received and enters the heart, it then allows us to contemplate reality with God’s very eyes.

When one prays, everything acquires “depth”. This is interesting in prayer, perhaps something subtle begins but in prayer that thing acquires depth, it becomes weighty, as if God takes it in hand and transforms it. The worst service someone can give God, and others as well, is to pray tiredly, by rote. To pray like parrots. No, let us pray with our heart. Prayer is the centre of life. If there is prayer, even a brother, a sister, even an enemy becomes important. An old saying from the first Christian monks reads: “Blessed is the monk who, after God, regards every human being as God, ” (Evagrius Ponticus, Trattato sulla preghiera, n. 122). Those who worship God, love His children. Those who respect God, respect human beings.

And so, prayer is not a sedative to alleviate life’s anxieties; or, in any case, this type of prayer is certainly not Christian. Rather, prayer makes each of us responsible. We see this clearly in the “Our Father” that Jesus taught His disciples.

To learn how to pray this way, the Psalter is a tremendous school. We saw how the Psalms do not always use refined and gentle language, and how they often bring out the scars of existence. And yet, all these prayers were first used in the Temple of Jerusalem and then in the synagogues; even the most intimate and personal ones. The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it this way: “The Psalter’s many forms of prayer take shape both in the liturgy of the Temple and in the human heart” (n. 2588). And thus, personal prayer draws from and is nourished first by the prayer of the people of Israel, then by the prayer of the Church.

Even the Psalms in the first person singular, which confide the most intimate thoughts and problems of an individual, are a collective heritage, to the point of being prayed by everyone and for everyone. The prayer of the Christian has this “breath”, this spiritual “tension” holding the temple and the world together. Prayer can begin in the darkness of a church’s nave, but come to an end on the city streets. And vice versa, it can blossom during the day’s activities and reach its fulfilment in the liturgy. The church doors are not barriers, but permeable “membranes”, available to gather everyone's cry.

The world is always present in the prayer found in the Psalter. The Psalms, for example, voice the divine promise of salvation for the weakest:.. “ ‘Because the poor are despoiled, because the needy groan I will now arise,’ says the Lord; ‘I will place him in the safety for which he longs’ ” (12:5). Or again, they warn about the danger of worldly riches because... “Man cannot abide in his pomp, he is like the beasts that perish” (49:20). Or, they open the horizon to God’s view of history: “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nought; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations” (33:10-11).

In short, where there is God, the human person must be there as well. Sacred Scripture is categorical: “We love, because he first loved us”(1Jn 4:19). He always goes ahead of us. He always awaits us because He loves us first, He looks at us first, He understands us first. He always awaits us. “If any one says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God who he does not see (1Jn 4:20). If you pray many rosaries each day but then gossip about others, and nourish grudges inside, if you hate others, this is truly artificial, it is not true. “And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also” (1 Jn 4:19-21). Scripture acknowledges the case of the person who, even though he or she sincerely searches for God, never succeeds to encounter Him; but it also affirms that the tears of the poor can never be repudiated on pain of not encountering God. God does not support the “atheism” of those who repudiate the divine image that is imprinted in every human being. That everyday atheism: I believe in God but I keep my distance from others and I allow myself to hate others. This is practical atheism. Not to recognize the human person as the image of God is a sacrilege, an abomination, the worst offense that can be directed toward the temple and the altar.

Dear brothers and sisters, the prayers of the Psalms help us not to fall into the temptation of the “wicked”, that is, of living, and perhaps also of praying, as if God does not exist, and as if the poor do not exist.





Pope Francis          28.10.20 General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall         Catechesis on prayer - 12. Jesus, man of prayer         Luke 3: 21-22


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Pope Francis The prayer of Jesus  28.10.20


Today, in this audience, as we have done in the previous audiences, I will stay here. I like to come down and greet each one of you, but we must keep our distance, because if I come down, then a crowd forms to greet me, and this is contrary to the measures and the precautions we must take in order to face “Madame Covid”, and it is harmful to us. Therefore, please excuse me if I do not come down to greet you: I will greet you from here but I hold you in my heart, all of you. And you, please hold me in your heart, and pray for me. From a distance, we can pray for each other … and thank you for your understanding.

In our itinerary of catechesis on prayer, after travelling through the Old Testament, we now arrive at Jesus. And Jesus prayed. The beginning of His public ministry takes place with His baptism in the river Jordan. The Evangelists are in agreement in attributing fundamental importance to this episode. They narrate how all the people came together in prayer, and specify that this gathering had a clearly penitential nature (see Mk 1:5; Mt 3:8). The people went to John to be baptised, for the forgiveness of sins: it is of a penitential character, of conversion.

Jesus’ first public act is therefore participation in a choral prayer of the people, a prayer of the people who went to be baptised, a penitential prayer, in which everyone recognises him- or herself as a sinner. This is why the Baptist wishes to oppose it, and says: “I need to be baptised by you, and you come to me?” (Mt 3:14). The Baptist understands who Jesus was. But Jesus insists: His act is an act of obedience to the will of the Father (v. 5), an act of solidarity with our human condition. He prays with the sinners of the people of God. Let us keep this clearly in mind: Jesus is the Righteous One, He is not a sinner. But He wished to come down to us, sinners, and He prays with us, and when we pray He is with us, praying; He is with us because He is in heaven, praying for us. Jesus always prays with His people, He always prays with us: always. We never pray alone, we always pray with Jesus. He does not stay on the opposite side of the river - “I am righteous, you are sinners” - to mark His difference and distance from the disobedient people, but rather He immerses His feet in the same purifying waters. He acts as if He were a sinner. And this is the greatness of God, Who sent His Son and annihilated Himself, and appears as a sinner.


Jesus is not a distant God, and He cannot be. Incarnation revealed Him in a complete and humanly unthinkable way. Thus, inaugurating His mission, Jesus places Himself at the forefront of a people of penitents, as if He were responsible for opening a breach through which all of us, after Him, must have the courage to pass. But the road, the journey, is difficult; but He goes ahead, opening the way. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that this is the newness of the fullness of time. It says: “His filial prayer, which the Father awaits from His children, is finally going to be lived out by the only Son in His humanity, with and for men” (no. 2599). Jesus prays with us. Let us keep this clear in our mind and in our heart: Jesus prays with us.

On that day, on the bank of the river Jordan, there is therefore all of humanity, with its unexpressed yearning for prayer. There is, above all, the population of sinners: those who thought they were not beloved by God, those who did not dare cross the threshold of the temple, those who did not pray because they did not consider themselves worthy. Jesus came for everyone, even for them, and He begins precisely by joining them. At the forefront.

The Gospel of Luke, in particular, highlights the climate of prayer in which the baptism of Jesus took place: “Now when all the people were baptised, and when Jesus also had been baptised and was praying, the heaven was opened” (3:21). By praying, Jesus opens the door to the heavens, and the Holy Spirit descends from that breach. And from on high a voice proclaims the wonderful truth: “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased” (v. 22). This simple phrase encloses an immense treasure; it enables us to understand something of Jesus’ ministry and of His heart, always turned to the Father. In the whirlwind of life and the world that will come to condemn him, even in the hardest and most sorrowful experiences He will have to endure, even when He experiences that he has no place to lay His head (see Mt 8: 20), even when hatred and persecution are unleashed around Him, Jesus is never without the refuge of a dwelling place: He dwells eternally in the Father.

This is the unique greatness of Jesus' prayer: the Holy Spirit takes possession of His person and the voice of the Father attests that He is the beloved, the Son in whom He fully reflects Himself.

This prayer of Jesus, which on the banks of the river Jordan is totally personal - and will be thus for all His earthly life - in Pentecost becomes the grace of prayer for all those baptised in Christ. He Himself obtained for us this gift, and He invites us to pray as He prayed.

Therefore, if during an evening of prayer we feel sluggish and empty, if it seems to us that life has been completely useless, we must at that moment beg that Jesus' prayer also become our own. “I cannot pray today, I don’t know what to do: I don’t feel like it, I am unworthy… In that moment, may your prayer to Jesus be mine”. And entrust yourself to Him, that He may pray for us. He in this moment is before the Father, praying for us, He is the intercessor; He shows the wounds to the Father, for us. Let us trust in this, it is great. We will then hear, if we are trustful, we will then hear a voice from heaven, louder than the voice rising from the depths of ourselves, and we will hear this voice whispering words of tenderness: “You are God's beloved, you are a son, you are the joy of the Father in heaven”. Just for us, for each one of us, echoes the word of the Father: even if we were rejected by all, sinners of the worst kind. Jesus did not descend into the waters of the Jordan for Himself, but for all of us. It was the entire people of God who went to the Jordan to pray, to ask for forgiveness, to receive that baptism of penance. And as that theologian said, they approached the Jordan with a “bare soul and bare feet”. This is humility. It takes humility to pray. He opened the heavens, as Moses opened the waters of the Red Sea, so that we could all pass behind Him. Jesus gave us His own prayer, which is His loving dialogue with the Father. He gave it to us like a seed of the Trinity, which He wants to take root in our hearts. Let us welcome him! Let us welcome this gift, the gift of prayer. Always with Him. And we will not go wrong. Thank you.





Pope Francis    04.11.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace      Catechesis on prayer - 13. Jesus, Teacher of prayer        Mark 1: 32, 34-38


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Pope Francis - Jesus, Teacher of prayer - General Audience 04.11.20


Unfortunately we have had to return to holding this audience in the library, to defend ourselves against contagion by Covid. This also teaches us that we must be very attentive to the prescriptions of the authorities, both the political authorities and the health authorities, to defend ourselves against this pandemic. Let us offer to the Lord this distance between us, for the good of all, and let us think, let us think a lot about the sick, about those who are already marginalised when they enter the hospitals, let us think of the doctors, the nurses, the volunteers, the many people who work with the sick at this time: they risk their life but they do so out of love for their neighbour, as a vocation. Let us pray for them.

During His public life, Jesus constantly availed himself of the power of prayer. The Gospels show this to us when He retired to secluded places to pray. These are sober and discreet observations, that only allow us to imagine those prayerful dialogues. They clearly demonstrate, however, that even at times of greater dedication to the poor and the sick, Jesus never neglected His intimate dialogue with the Father. The more He was immersed in the needs of the people, the more He felt the need to repose in the Trinitarian Communion, to return to the Father and the Spirit.

There is, therefore, a secret in Jesus’ life, hidden from human eyes, which is the fulcrum of everything else. Jesus’ prayer is a mysterious reality, of which we have a slight intuition, but which allows us to interpret His entire mission from the right perspective. In those solitary hours - before dawn or at night - Jesus immersed Himself in intimacy with the Father, that is, in the Love that every soul thirsts for. This is what emerges from the very first days of His public ministry.

One Sabbath, for example, the town of Capernaum was transformed into a "field hospital": after sunset they brought all the sick to Jesus, and He healed them. Before dawn, however, Jesus disappeared: He withdrew to a solitary place and prayed. Simon and the others looked for Him and when they found Him they said: “Everyone is searching for you!” How does Jesus reply? “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came” (see Mk 1:35-38). Jesus always goes a bit further, further in prayer with the Father, and beyond, to other villages, other horizons, to go and preach to other peoples.

Prayer was the rudder that guides Jesus’ course. It was not success, it was not consensus, it was not the seductive phrase “everyone is searching for you”, that dictated the stages of His mission. The path Jesus charted was the least comfortable one, but it was the one by which He obeyed the Father’s inspiration, which Jesus heard and welcomed in His solitary prayer.

The Catechism states that “When Jesus prays He is already teaching us how to pray” (no. 2607). Therefore, from Jesus’ example we can derive some characteristics of Christian prayer.

First and foremost, it possesses primacy: it is the first desire of the day, something that is practised at dawn, before the world awakens. It restores a soul to that which otherwise would be without breath. A day lived without prayer risks being transformed into a bothersome or tedious experience: all that happens to us could turn into a badly endured and blind fate. Jesus instead teaches an obedience to reality and, therefore, to listening. Prayer is primarily listening and encountering God. The problems of everyday life, then, do not become obstacles, but appeals from God Himself to listen to and encounter those who are in front of us. The trials of life thus change into opportunities to grow in faith and charity. The daily journey, including hardships, acquires the perspective of a “vocation”. Prayer has the power to transform into good what in life could otherwise be condemnation; prayer has the power to open the mind and broaden the heart to a great horizon.

Secondly, prayer is an art to be practised insistently. Jesus Himself says to us: knock, knock, knock. We are all capable of sporadic prayers, which arise from a momentary emotion; but Jesus educates us in another type of prayer: the one that knows a discipline, an exercise, assumed within a rule of life. Consistent prayer produces progressive transformation, makes us strong in times of tribulation, gives us the grace to be supported by Him who loves us and always protects us.

Another characteristic of Jesus’ prayer is solitude. Those who pray do not escape from the world, but prefer deserted places. There, in silence, many voices can emerge that we hide in our innermost selves: the most repressed desires, the truths that we insist on suffocating, and so on. And, above all, in silence God speaks. Every person needs a space for him- or herself, to be able to cultivate the inner life, where actions find meaning. Without the inner life we become superficial, agitated, and anxious - how anxiety harms us! This is why we must go to pray; without an inner life we flee from reality, and we also flee from ourselves, we are men and women always on the run.

Finally, Jesus' prayer is the place where we perceive that everything comes from God and returns to Him. Sometimes we human beings believe that we are the masters of everything, or on the contrary, we lose all self-esteem, we go from one side to another. Prayer helps us to find the right dimension in our relationship with God, our Father, and with all creation. And Jesus’ prayer, in the end, means delivering oneself into the hands of the Father, like Jesus in the olive grove, in that anguish: “Father, if it is possible… let your will be done”. Delivering oneself into the hands of the Father. It is good, when we are agitated, a bit worried, and the Holy Spirit transforms us from within and leads us to this surrendering of oneself into the hands of the Father: “Father, let your will be done”.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us rediscover Jesus Christ as a teacher of prayer in the Gospel and place ourselves in His school. I assure you that we will find joy and peace.




Pope Francis   11.11.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace        Catechesis on prayer - 14. The persevering prayer       Luke 11: 9-13


Dear Brothers and sisters, good morning!
Pope Francis The persevering prayer  11.11.20 General Audience


We continue the catechesis on prayer. Someone said to me: “You talk too much about prayer. It is not necessary”. Yes, it is necessary. Because if we do not pray, we will not have the strength to go forward in life. Prayer is like the oxygen of life. Prayer draws down on us the Holy Spirit’s presence who always leads us forward. For this reason, I speak a lot about prayer.

Jesus has given an example of continual prayer, practiced perseveringly. Constant dialogue with His Father, in silence and in recollection, was the fulcrum of His entire mission. The Gospels also report His exhortations to the disciples, so that they might pray insistently, without getting tired. The Catechism recalls three parables contained in the Gospel of Luke that underline this characteristic of Jesus’s prayer (see CCC, 2613).

First of all, prayer must be tenacious: like the person in the parable who, having to welcome a guest who arrived unexpectedly in the middle of the night, goes to knock on the door of a friend and asks him for some bread. The friend responds, “No!”, because he is already in bed – but he insists and insists until he constrains his friend to get up and give him some bread (see Lk 11:5-8). A tenacious request. But God is more patient with us, and the person who knocks with faith and perseverance on the door of His heart will not be disappointed. God always responds. Always. Our Father knows well what we need; insistence is necessary not to inform Him or to convince Him, but is necessary to nurture the desire and expectation in us.

The second parable is that of the widow who goes to the judge for his help in obtaining justice. This judge is corrupt, he is a man without scruples, but in the end, exasperated by the insistence of the widow, decides to please her (see Lk 18:1-8)… He thought: “But, it is better to resolve this problem and get her off my back so she will not continue coming to me to complain”. This parable makes us understand that faith is not a momentary choice, but a courageous disposition to call on God, even to “argue” with Him, without resigning oneself to evil and injustice.

The third parable presents a Pharisee and a tax collector who go to the Temple to pray. The first turns to God boasting of his merits; the other feels unworthy even to enter the sanctuary. While God does not listen to the prayer of the first, that is of those who are proud, He does grant the prayer of the humble (see Lk 18:9-14). There is no true prayer without a spirit of humility. It is specifically humility that leads us to ask in prayer.

The teaching of the Gospel is clear: we need to pray always, even when everything seems in vain, when God appears to be deaf and mute and it seems we are wasting time. Even if the sky darkens, the Christian does not stop praying. A Christian’s prayer goes hand in hand with his or her faith. There are many days of our life when faith seems to be an illusion, a sterile effort. There are moments of darkness in our life, and in those moments, faith may seem to be an illusion. But the practice of prayer means accepting even this effort. “Father, I pray and do not feel anything … It feels like my heart is dry, that my heart is arid”. But we must continue exerting ourselves in the tough moments, the moments in which we feel nothing. Many saints experienced the night of faith and God’s silence – when we know and God does not respond – and these saints were persevering.

During those nights of faith, the one who prays is never alone. Jesus, in fact, is not only a witness and teacher of prayer; He is more. He welcomes us in His prayer so that we might pray in Him and through Him. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. For this reason, the Gospel invites us to pray to the Father in Jesus’s name. Saint John provides these words of the Lord: “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (14:13). And the Catechism explains that “the certitude that our petitions will be heard is founded on the prayer of Jesus” (n. 2614). It gives the wings that the human person’s prayer has always desired to possess.

How can we fail to recall here the words of Psalm 91, laden with trust, springing from a heart that hopes for everything from God: “he will conceal you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the plague that prowls in darkness, nor the scourge that lays waste at noon” (vv. 4-6). It is in Christ that this stupendous prayer is fulfilled, and in Him that it finds its complete truth. Without Jesus, our prayer risks being reduced to human effort, destined most of the time to failure. But He has taken on Himself every cry, every groan, every jubilation, every supplication…every human prayer. And let us not forget that the Holy Spirit prays in us; it is He who leads us to pray, who leads us to Jesus. He is the gift that the Father and the Son gave us to foster an encounter with God. And when we pray, it is the Holy Spirit who prays in our hearts.

Christ is everything for us, even in our prayer life. Saint Augustine said this with an enlightening expression that we also find in the Catechism: Jesus “prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God. Therefore let us acknowledge our voice in him and his in us” (n. 2616). This is why the Christian who prays fears nothing, he or she trusts in the Holy Spirit who was given to us as a gift and who prays in us, eliciting prayer. May the Holy Spirit, Teacher of prayer, teach us the path of prayer.





Pope Francis  18.11.20  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace    Catechesis on prayer - 15. The Virgin Mary, prayerful woman       Luke 2: 39-40, 51


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Pope  Francis The Prayer of Mary - General Audience 18.11.2020


On our course of catechesis on prayer, today we meet the Virgin Mary as the prayerful woman. The Madonna prayed. When the world still knew nothing of her, when she was a simple girl engaged to a man of the house of David, Mary prayed. We can imagine the young girl of Nazareth wrapped in silence, in continual dialogue with God who would soon entrust her with a mission. She is already full of grace and immaculate from the moment she was conceived; but she knows nothing yet of her surprising and extraordinary vocation and the stormy sea she will have to cross. One thing is certain: Mary belongs to a great host of the humble of heart whom the official historians never include in their books, but with whom God prepared the coming of His Son.

Mary did not independently conduct her life: she waits for God to take the reins of her path and guide her where He wants. She is docile, and with her availability she prepares the grand events in which God takes part in the world. The Catechism recalls her constant and caring presence in the benevolent design of the Father throughout the course of Jesus’s life (see CCC, 2617-2618).

Mary was praying when the Archangel Gabriel came to bring his message to her in Nazareth. Her small yet immense “Here I am”, which makes all of creation jump for joy at that moment, was preceded throughout salvation history by many other “Here I ams”, by many trusting obediences, by many who were open to God’s will. There is no better way to pray than to place oneself in an attitude of openness, of a heart open to God: “Lord, what You want, when You want, and how You want”. That is, with a heart open to God’s will. And God always responds. How many believers live their prayer like this! Those who are the most humble of heart pray like this: with essential humility, let’s put it that way; with simple humility: “Lord, what You want, when You want, and how You want”. They pray like this and do not get upset when problems fill their days, but they go about facing reality and knowing that in humble love, in love offered in each situation, we become instruments of God’s grace. “Lord, what You want, when You want, and how You want”. A simple prayer, but one in which we place ourselves in the Lord’s hands so that He might guide us. All of us can pray like this, almost without words.

Prayer knows how to calm restlessness. We are restless, we always want things before asking for them, and we want them right away. This restlessness harms us. And prayer knows how to calm restlessness, knows how to transform it into availability. When we are restless, I pray and prayer opens my heart and makes me open to God’s will. In those few moments of the Annunciation, the Virgin Mary knew how to reject fear, even while sensing that her “yes” would bring her tremendously difficult trials. If in prayer we understand that each day given by God is a call, our hearts will then widen and we will accept everything. We will learn how to say: “What You want, Lord. Promise me only that You will be present every step of my way”. This is important: to ask the Lord to be present on every step of our way: that He not leave us alone, that He not abandon us in temptation, that He not abandon us in the bad moments. The Our Father ends this way: the grace that Jesus Himself taught us to ask of the Lord.

Mary accompanied Jesus’s entire life in prayer, right up to His death and resurrection; and in the end, she continued and she accompanied the first steps of the nascent Church (see Acts 1:14). Mary prayed with the disciples who had witnessed the scandal of the cross. She prayed with Peter who had succumbed to fear and cried for remorse. Mary was there, with the disciples, in the midst of the men and women whom her Son had called to form His Community. Mary did not act like a priest among them, no! She is Jesus’s Mother who prayed with them, in the community, as a member of the community. She prayed with them and prayed for them. And, once again, her prayer preceded into the future that was about to be fulfilled: by the work of the Holy Spirit she became the Mother of God, and by the work of the Holy Spirit she became the Mother of the Church. Praying with the nascent Church, she becomes the Mother of the Church, accompanying the disciples on the first steps of the Church in prayer, awaiting the Holy Spirit. In silence, always silently. Mary’s prayer is silent. The Gospels recount only one of Mary’s prayers at Cana, when she asks her Son for those poor people who are about to make a horrible impression during the banquet. So, let us imagine: there is a wedding banquet and it will end up with milk because there is no wine! What an impression! And she prays and asks her Son to resolve that problem. In and of itself, Mary’s presence is prayer, and her presence among the disciples in the Upper Room, awaiting the Holy Spirit, is in prayer. Thus Mary gives birth to the Church, she is the Mother of the Church. The Catechism explains: “In the faith of his humble handmaid, the Gift of God”, that is, the Holy Spirit, “found the acceptance he had awaited from the beginning of time” (CCC, 2617).

In the Virgin Mary, natural feminine intuition is exalted by her most singular union with God in prayer. This is why, reading the Gospel, we note that she seems to disappear at times, only to reappear for crucial moments: Mary was open to God’s voice that guided her heart, that guided her steps where her presence was needed. Her silent presence as mother and as disciple. Mary is present because she is Mother, but she is also present because she is the first disciple, the one who best learned Jesus’s ways. Mary never says: “Come, I will take care of things”. Instead she says: “Do whatever He will tell you”, always pointing her finger at Jesus. This behaviour is typical of the disciple, and she is the first disciple: she prays as Mother and she prays as a disciple.

“Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). Thus the evangelist Luke depicts the Mother of the Lord in the infancy narrative in his Gospel. Everything that happens around her ends up being reflected on in the depths of her heart: the days filled with joy, as well as the darkest moments when even she struggles to understand by which roads the Redemption must pass. Everything ends up in her heart so that it might pass through the sieve of prayer and be transfigured by it: whether it be the gifts of the Magi, or the flight into Egypt, until that terrible passion Friday. The Mother keeps everything and brings it to her dialogue with God. Someone has compared Mary’s heart to a pearl of incomparable splendour, formed and smoothed by patient acceptance of God’s will through the mysteries of Jesus meditated on in prayer. How beautiful it would be if we too could be a bit like our Mother! With a heart open to God’s Word, with a silent heart, with an obedient heart, with a heart that knows how to receive God’s Word and that allows itself to grow with the seed of good for the Church.




Pope Francis  25.11.20  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace  Catechesis on prayer - 16. The prayer of the nascent Church  Acts 4: 23-24,29,31,    Acts 2:42


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Pope Francis  General Audience 25.11.2020 - The Church and Prayer

The Church's first steps in the world were interspersed with prayer. The apostolic writings and the great narration of the Acts of the Apostles give us the image of an active Church, a Church on the move, yet which, gathered in prayer, finds the basis and impulse for missionary action. The image of the early Community of Jerusalem is the point of reference for every other Christian experience. Luke writes in the Book of Acts: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (2:42). The community persevered in prayer.

We find here four essential characteristics of ecclesial life: listening to the apostles’ teaching, first; second, the safeguarding of mutual communion; third, the breaking of the bread; and fourth, prayer. They remind us that the Church’s existence has meaning if it remains firmly united to Christ, that is, in community, in His Word, in the Eucharist and in prayer – the way we unite ourselves to Christ. Preaching and catechesis bear witness to the words and actions of the Teacher; the constant quest for fraternal communion shields us from selfishness and particularisms; the breaking of the bread fulfils the sacrament of Jesus' presence among us. He will never be absent – particularly in the Eucharist, He is there. He lives and walks with us. And lastly, prayer, which is the space of dialogue with the Father, through Christ in the Holy Spirit.

Everything in the Church that grows outside of these “coordinates” lacks a foundation. To discern a situation, we need to ask ourselves about these four coordinates: how in this situation these four coordinates are present – the preaching, the constant search for fraternal communion, charity, the breaking of the bread (that is, the Eucharistic life), and prayer. Any situation needs to be evaluated in the light of these four coordinates. Whatever is not part of these coordinates lacks ecclesiality, it is not ecclesial. It is God who creates the Church, not the clamour of works. The Church is not a market; the Church is not a group of businesspeople who go forward with a new business. The Church is the work of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent to us to gather us together. The Church is precisely the work of the Spirit in the Christian community, in the life of the community, in the Eucharist, in prayer… always. And everything that grows outside of these coordinates lacks a foundation, is like a house built upon sand (see Mt 7:24-27). It is God who creates the Church, not the clamour of works. It is Jesus' word that fills our efforts with meaning. It is in humility that we build the future of the world. At times, I feel tremendous sadness when I see a community that has good will, but takes the wrong road because it thinks that the Church is built up in meetings, as if it were a political party. “But, the majority, the minority, what do they think about this, that and the other… And this is like a Synod, the synodal path that we must take…” I ask myself: “But where is the Holy Spirit there? Where is prayer? Where is communitarian love? Where is the Eucharist?” Without these four coordinates, the Church becomes a human society, a political party – majority, minority – changes are made as if it were a company, according to majority or minority… But the Holy Spirit is not there. And the presence of the Holy Spirit is precisely guaranteed by these four coordinates. To evaluate whether a situation is ecclesial or not ecclesial, let us ask ourselves about these four coordinates: life in community, prayer, the Eucharist…how is life developing along these four coordinates. If this is lacking, the Holy Spirit is lacking, and if the Holy Spirit is lacking, we are a beautiful organization, humanitarian, doing good things, good, good…even an ecclesial party, let’s put it that way. But it is not the Church. It is for this reason that the Church does not grow with these things: it does not grow through proselytism, as any other company, it grows by attraction. And who provokes attraction? The Holy Spirit. Let us never forget Benedict XVI’s words: “The Church does not grow through proselytizing, she grows by attraction”. If the Holy Spirit is lacking, who is the one who attracts people to Jesus, the Church is not there. There might be a beautiful friendship club, good, with good intentions, but not the Church, not synodality.

In reading the Acts of the Apostles we then discover what a powerful driving force of evangelization the prayer gatherings can be, where those who participate actually experience Jesus' presence and are touched by the Spirit. The members of the first community - although this always applies, even to us today – sensed that the narrative of the encounter with Jesus did not stop at the moment of the Ascension, but continued in their life. In recounting what the Lord said and did – listening to the Word – in praying to enter into communion with Him, everything became alive. Prayer infuses light and warmth: the gift of the Spirit endowed them with fervour.

For this reason, the Catechism contains a very substantial expression. It says this: “The Holy Spirit... keeps the memory of Christ alive in his Church at prayer, also leads her toward the fullness of truth, to the whole truth, and inspires new formulations expressing the unfathomable mystery of Christ at work in his Church's life, sacraments, and mission” (n. 2625). This is the Spirit's work in the Church: making us remember Jesus. And Jesus Himself said it: He will teach you and remind you. The mission is to remember Jesus, but not as a mnemonic exercise. Christians, walking on the paths of mission, remember Jesus while they make Him present once more; and from Him, from His Spirit, they receive the “push” to go, to proclaim, to serve. In prayer, Christians immerse themselves in the mystery of God, that mystery who loves each person, that God who desires that the Gospel be preached to every one. God is God for everyone, and in Jesus every wall of separation has definitively crumbled: as Saint Paul says, "He is our peace," that is, “He who has made us both one” (Eph 2:14). Jesus created unity, unity.

In this way the life of the early Church had the rhythm of a continuous succession of celebrations, convocations, times of both communitarian and personal prayer. And it is the Spirit who granted strength to the preachers who set out on the journey, and who, for love of Jesus, sailed the seas, faced dangers, subjected themselves to humiliation.

God gives love, God asks for love. This is the mystical root of the believer's entire life. In prayer, the first Christians – and us as well, who come many centuries afterwards – we all live the same experience. The Spirit inspires everything. And every Christian who is not afraid to devote time to prayer can make his or her own the words of the Apostle Paul, who says this: “the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). Prayer makes you aware of this. Only in the silence of adoration do we experience the whole truth of these words. And we must recapture this sense of adoration. To adore, to adore God, to adore Jesus, to adore the Spirit. The Father, the Son and the Spirit: to adore. In silence. The prayer of adoration is that prayer that makes us recognize God as the beginning and the end of all of History. And this prayer is the living flame of the Spirit that gives strength to witness and to mission. Thank you.




Pope Francis    29.11.20  Holy Mass with the new Cardinals, Vatican Basilica   1st Sunday of Advent Year B     Isaiah 63: 16b,17,19b, 64: 2-7,    Mark 13: 33-37


Pope Francis Holy Mass with New Cardinals 29.11.20
Today’s readings propose two key words for the Advent season: closeness and watchfulness. God’s closeness and our watchfulness. The prophet Isaiah says that God is close to us, while in the Gospel Jesus urges us to keep watch in expectation of his return.

Closeness. Isaiah begins by speaking personally to God: “You, O Lord, are our father” (63:16). “Never has anyone heard”, he continues, “[of] any God, other than you, who has done so much for those who trust in him” (cf. 64:3). We are reminded of the words of Deuteronomy: who is like the Lord our God, so close to us whenever we call upon him? (cf. 4:7). Advent is the season for remembering that closeness of God who came down to dwell in our midst. The prophet goes on to ask God to draw close to us once more: “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down!” (Is 64:1). We prayed for this in today’s responsorial psalm: “Turn again… come to save us” (Ps 80:15.3). We often begin our prayers with the invocation: “God, come to my assistance”. The first step of faith is to tell God that we need him, that we need him to be close to us.

This is also the first message of Advent and the liturgical year: we need to recognize God’s closeness and to say to him: “Come close to us once more!” God wants to draw close to us, but he will not impose himself; it is up to us to keep saying to him: “Come!” This is our Advent prayer: “Come!” Advent reminds us that Jesus came among us and will come again at the end of time. Yet we can ask what those two comings mean, if he does not also come into our lives today? So let us invite him. Let us make our own the traditional Advent prayer: “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20). The Book of Revelation ends with this prayer: “Come, Lord Jesus”. We can say that prayer at the beginning of each day and repeat it frequently, before our meetings, our studies and our work, before making decisions, in every more important or difficult moment in our lives: Come, Lord Jesus! It is a little prayer, yet one that comes from the heart. Let us say it in this Advent season. Let us repeat it: “Come, Lord Jesus!”

If we ask Jesus to come close to us, we will train ourselves to be watchful. Today Mark’s Gospel presented us with the end of Jesus’ final address to his disciples, which can be summed up in two words: “Be watchful!” The Lord repeats these words four times in five verses (cf. Mk 13:33-35.37). It is important to remain watchful, because one great mistake in life is to get absorbed in a thousand things and not to notice God. Saint Augustine said: “Timeo Iesum transeuntem” (Sermons, 88, 14, 13), “I fear that Jesus will pass by me unnoticed”. Caught up in our own daily concerns (how well we know this!), and distracted by so many vain things, we risk losing sight of what is essential. That is why today the Lord repeats: “To all, I say: be watchful!” (Mk 13:37). Be watchful, attentive.

Having to be watchful, however, means it is now night. We are not living in broad daylight, but awaiting the dawn, amid darkness and weariness. The light of day will come when we shall be with the Lord. Let us not lose heart: the light of day will come, the shadows of night will be dispelled, and the Lord, who died for us on the cross, will arise to be our judge. Being watchful in expectation of his coming means not letting ourselves be overcome by discouragement. It is to live in hope. Just as before our birth, our loved ones expectantly awaited our coming into the world, so now Love in person awaits us. If we are awaited in Heaven, why should we be caught up with earthly concerns? Why should we be anxious about money, fame, success, all of which will pass away? Why should we waste time complaining about the night, when the light of day awaits us? Why should we look for “patrons” to help advance our career? All these things pass away. Be watchful, the Lord tells us.

Staying awake is not easy; it is really quite hard. At night, it is natural to sleep. Even Jesus’s disciples did not manage to stay awake when told to stay awake “in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn” (cf. v. 35). Those were the very times they were not awake: in the evening, at the Last Supper, they betrayed Jesus; at midnight, they dozed off; at the cock’s crow, they denied him; in the morning, they let him be condemned to death. They did not keep watch. They fell asleep. But that same drowsiness can also overtake us. There is a dangerous kind of sleep: it is the slumber of mediocrity. It comes when we forget our first love and grow satisfied with indifference, concerned only for an untroubled existence. Without making an effort to love God daily and awaiting the newness he constantly brings, we become mediocre, lukewarmworldly. And this slowly eats away at our faith, for faith is the very opposite of mediocrity: it is ardent desire for God, a bold effort to change, the courage to love, constant progress. Faith is not water that extinguishes flames, it is fire that burns; it is not a tranquilizer for people under stress, it is a love story for people in love! That is why Jesus above all else detests lukewarmness (cf. Rev 3:16). God clearly disdains the lukewarm.

How can we rouse ourselves from the slumber of mediocrity? With the vigilance of prayer. When we pray, we light a candle in the darkness. Prayer rouses us from the tepidity of a purely horizontal existence and makes us lift our gaze to higher things; it makes us attuned to the Lord. Prayer allows God to be close to us; it frees us from our solitude and gives us hope. Prayer is vital for life: just as we cannot live without breathing, so we cannot be Christians without praying. How much we need Christians who keep watch for those who are slumbering, worshipers who intercede day and night, bringing before Jesus, the light of the world, the darkness of history. How much we need worshipers. We have lost something of our sense of adoration, of standing in silent adoration before the Lord. This is mediocrity, lukewarmness.

There is also another kind of interior slumber: the slumber of indifference. Those who are indifferent see everything the same, as if it were night; they are unconcerned about those all around them. When everything revolves around us and our needs, and we are indifferent to the needs of others, night descends in our hearts. Our hearts grow dark. We immediately begin to complain about everything and everyone; we start to feel victimized by everyone and end up brooding about everything. It is a vicious circle. Nowadays, that night seems to have fallen on so many people, who only demand things for themselves, and are blind to the needs of others.

How do we rouse ourselves from the slumber of indifference? With the watchfulness of charity. To awaken us from that slumber of mediocrity and lukewarmness, there is the watchfulness of prayer. To rouse us from that slumber of indifference, there is the watchfulness of charity. Charity is the beating heart of the Christian: just as one cannot live without a heartbeat, so one cannot be a Christian without charity. Some people seem to think that being compassionate, helping and serving others is for losers. Yet these are the only things that win us the victory, since they are already aiming towards the future, the day of the Lord, when all else will pass away and love alone will remain. It is by works of mercy that we draw close to the Lord. This is what we asked for in today’s opening prayer: “Grant [us]… the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming”. The resolve to run forth to meet Christ with good works. Jesus is coming, and the road to meet him is clearly marked: it passes through works of charity.

Dear brothers and sisters, praying and loving: that is what it means to be watchful. When the Church worships God and serves our neighbour, she does not live in the night. However weak and weary, she journeys towards the Lord. Let us now call out to him. Come, Lord Jesus, we need you! Draw close to us. You are the light. Rouse us from the slumber of mediocrity; awaken us from the darkness of indifference. Come, Lord Jesus, take our distracted hearts and make them watchful. Awaken within us the desire to pray and the need to love.




Pope Francis   02.12.20  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace         Catechesis on Prayer - 17. The Blessing    Ephesians 1: 3-6,       Genesis 1: 22,28, 2: 3


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Pope Francis -  Talks about Blessing - General Audience - 02.12.2020


Today we will reflect on an essential dimension of prayer: blessing. We are continuing the reflections on prayer. In the creation accounts (see Gn 1-2), God continually blesses life, always. He blesses the animals (1:22), He blesses the man and the woman (1:28), finally, He blesses the Sabbath, the day of rest and the enjoyment of all of creation (2:3). It is God who blesses. On the first pages of the Bible, there is a continual repetition of blessings. God blesses, but men give blessings as well, and soon they discover that the blessing possesses a special power that accompanies the person who receives it throughout his or her entire life, and disposes the person’s heart to allow God to change it (see Second Vatican Council Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 61).

At the world’s beginning, therefore, there is a God who “speaks well”[1], who blesses. He sees that every work of His hands is good and beautiful, and when He creates man, and creation is complete, He recognizes that he is “very good” (Gn 1:31). Shortly thereafter, the beauty that God had imprinted within His work will be altered, and the human being will become a degenerate creature, capable of spreading evil and death in the world; but nothing will ever take away God’s original imprint of goodness that God placed in the world, in human nature, in all of us: the capacity of blessing and of being blessed. God did not make a mistake with creation nor with the creation of man. The hope of the world lies entirely in God’s blessing: He continues to desire our good[2], He is the first, as the poet Péguy said,[3] to continue to hope for our good.

God’s greatest blessing is Jesus Christ; His Son is God’s greatest. He is a blessing for all of humanity, He is the blessing that saved us all. He is the eternal Word with which the Father blessed us “while we were yet sinners” (Rm 5:8), St Paul says: the Word made flesh and offered for us on the cross.

St Paul proclaims with emotion God’s plan of love. And he says it this way: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (Eph 1:3-6). There is no sin that can completely erase the image of Christ present in each one of us. No sin can erase that image that God has given us – the image of Christ. Sin can disfigure it, but not remove it from God’s mercy. A sinner can remain in error for a long time, but God is patient till the end, hoping that the sinner’s heart will eventually open and change. God is like a good father, He is a Father, and like a good mother, He is a good mother as well: they never stop loving their child, no matter what he or she may have done wrong, always. What comes to my mind is the many times that I have seen people in line to go into a prison, how many mothers are there in line to see their imprisoned child. They do not cease to love their child and they know that the people passing by on the bus are thinking: “Ah, that is the mother of a prisoner…”. They are not embarrassed about this. Yes, they are embarrassed but they go ahead. Just as their child is more important than their embarrassment, so we are more important to God than all of the sins that we can commit. Because He is a Father, He is a Mother, He is pure love, He has blessed us forever. And He will never cease blessing us.

What an impressive experience it is to read these biblical texts of blessing in a prison, or in a rehabilitation group. To allow these people to hear that they are still blessed, notwithstanding their grave errors, that the heavenly Father continues to desire their good and to hope that they will open themselves in the end to the good. Even if their closest relatives have abandoned them – many abandon them, they are not like those mothers who wait in life to see them, they are not important, they abandon them – they have abandoned them since they by now judge them to be irredeemable, they are always children to God. God cannot erase in us the image of sons and daughters, each one of us is His son, His daughter. At times we see miracles happen: men and women who are reborn because they find this blessing that has anointed them as children. For God’s grace changes lives: He takes us as we are, but He never leaves us as we are.

Let us think about what Jesus did with Zacchaeus (see Lk 19:1-10), for example. Everyone saw evil in him; instead, Jesus spots a glimmer of good, and from that – from his curiosity to see Jesus – He allows the mercy that saves to pass through. Thus, first Zaccaeus’s heart was changed, and then his life. Jesus sees the indelible blessing of the Father in the people who are rejected and repudiated. He was a public sinner, he had done so many awful things, but Jesus saw that indelible sign of the Father’s blessing and because of that, He had compassion. That phrase that is repeated often in the Gospel, “He was moved with compassion”, and that compassion leads Him to help him and to change his heart. What’s more, Jesus came to identify Himself with every person in need (see Mt 25:31-46). In the passage about the final protocol on which all of us will be judged, Matthew 25, Jesus says: “I was there, I was hungry, I was naked, I was in prison, I was in hospital, I was there”.

To the God who blesses we, too, respond by blessing – God has taught us how to bless and we must bless – through the prayer of praise, of adoration, of thanksgiving. The Catechism writes: “The prayer of blessing is man's response to God's gifts: because God blesses, the human heart can in return bless the One who is the source of every blessing” (n. 2626). Prayer is joy and thanksgiving. God did not wait for us to convert ourselves before beginning to love us, but He loved us a long time before, when we were still in sin.

We cannot but bless this God who blesses us; we must bless everyone in Him, all people, to bless God and to bless our brothers and sisters, to bless the world – and this is the root of Christian meekness, the ability of feeling blessed and the ability to bless. If all of us were to do this, wars would surely not exist. This world needs blessings, and we can give blessings and receive blessings. The Father loves us. The only thing that remains for us is the joy of blessing Him, and the joy of thanking Him, and of learning from Him not to curse, but to bless. Here, just one word for the people who have the habit of cursing, people who always have a bad word, a curse, on their lips and in their hearts. Each one of us can think: Do I have this habit of cursing like this? And ask the Lord the grace to change this habit because we have a blessed heart and curses cannot come out of a heart that has been blessed. May the Lord teach us never to curse, but to bless.


[1]Translator’s note: the Italian word for bless is benedire: bene (well or good), dire (to speak), which literally corresponds with the English word benediction .
[2]Translator’s note: literal translation of the Italian expression volere bene: volere (to desire or wish), bene (well); this expression is used often in Italian to say “I love you”
[3] The Portico of the Mystery of the Second Virtue; first edition, Le porche du mystère de la deuxième vertu, published in 1911.





Pope Francis     09.12.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace        Catechesis on prayer - 18. The Prayer of Petition           Psalms 28: 1,2,6,7


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Pope Francis - The Prayer of Petition - General Audience  09.12.2020


Let us continue our reflections on prayer. Christian prayer is fully human - we pray as humans, as what we are - it includes praise and supplication. Indeed, when Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He did so with the “Our Father”, so that we might place ourselves in a relationship of filial trust with God, and ask Him all our questions. We implore God for the highest gifts: the sanctification of His name among men, the advent of His lordship, the realisation of His will for good in relation to the world. The Catechism recalls that: “There is a hierarchy in these petitions: we pray first for the Kingdom, then for what is necessary to welcome it and cooperate with its coming” (no. 2632). But in the “Our Father” we also pray for the simplest gifts, for the most of everyday gifts, such as “daily bread” - which also means health, home, work, everyday things; and it also means for the Eucharist, necessary for life in Christ; and we also pray for the forgiveness of sins - which is a daily matter; we are always in need of forgiveness - and therefore peace in our relationships; and finally, that He may help us face temptation and free us from evil.

To ask, to supplicate. This is very human. Let us listen to the Catechism again: “By prayer of petition we express awareness of our relationship with God. We are creatures who are not our own beginning, not the masters of adversity, not our own last end. We are sinners who as Christians know that we have turned away from our Father. Our petition is already a turning back to Him” (no. 2629).

If one feels bad because he has done bad things - he is a sinner - when he prays the “Our Father” he is already approaching the Lord. At times we can believe we do not need anything, that we are enough for ourselves, and we live in total self-sufficiency. This happens at times! But sooner or later this illusion vanishes. The human being is an invocation, that at times becomes a cry, often withheld. The soul resembles a dry, parched land, as the Psalm says (see Psalm 63:2). We all experience, at some time or another in our existence, the time of melancholy, of solitude. The Bible is not ashamed of showing our human condition, marked by disease, injustice, the betrayals of friends, or the threat of enemies. At times it seems that everything collapses, that the life lived so far has been in vain. And in these situations, when it seems that everything is falling apart, there is only one way out: the cry, the prayer “Lord, help me!”. Prayer can open up a sliver of light in the densest darkness. “Lord, help me!”. This opens: it opens up the road, it opens up the path.

We human beings share this invocation of help with the rest of creation. We are not the only ones “praying” in this boundless universe: every fragment of creation bears the desire for God. And Saint Paul himself expressed it in this way. He says: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly” (Rom 8:22-24). This is good. There resounds in us the multiform cry of creatures: of trees, of rocks, of animals. Everything yearns for fulfilment. Tertullian wrote: “Every creature prays; cattle and wild beasts pray and bend their knees; and when they issue from the layers and lairs, they look up heavenward with no idle mouth, making their breath vibrate after their own manner. Nay, the birds too, rising out of the nest, upraise themselves heavenward, and instead of hands, expand the cross of their wings, and somewhat to seem like prayer” (De oratione, XXIX). This is a poetic expression commenting on what Saint Paul says: “the whole creation has been groaning”. But we are the only ones to pray consciously, knowing that we are addressing the Father, and entering into dialogue with the Father.

Therefore, we should not be shocked if we feel the need to pray, we should not be ashamed. And, especially when we are in need, to ask. Jesus, speaking of a dishonest man, who had to settle the accounts with his landlord, says this: “Ask, I am ashamed”. And many of us have this feeling: we are ashamed to ask, to ask for help, to ask something of someone who can help us, to reach our purpose, and we are also ashamed to ask God. “No, this can’t be done”. Do not be ashamed to pray. “Lord, I need this”, “Lord, I am in difficulty”, “Help me!”: the cry, the cry of the heart to God who is the Father. And also to do so in happy moments, not only in bad times, but also in happy ones, to thank God for everything that is given to us, and not to take anything for granted or as if it were owed to us: everything is grace. We must learn this. The Lord always gives to us, always, and everything is grace, everything. The grace of God. However, we must not suffocate the supplication that rises up in us spontaneously. Prayer of petition goes in step with acceptance of our limit and our nature as creatures. One may even not reach the point of belief in God, but it is difficult not to believe in prayer: it simply exists, it presents itself to us as a cry; and we all know this inner voice that may remain silent for a long time, but one day awakens and cries out.

And, brothers and sisters, we know that God will respond. There is no prayer in the Book of Psalms that raises a lament that remains unheard. God always answers: maybe today, tomorrow, but he always answers, in one way or another. He always answers. The Bible repeats it countless times: God listens to the cry of those who invoke Him. Even our reluctant questions, those that remain in the depths of our heart, that we are ashamed to express: the Father listens to them and wishes to give us the Holy Spirit, which inspires every prayer and transforms everything. Brothers and sisters, in prayer there is always a question of patience, always, of supporting the wait. Now we are in the time of Advent, a time that is typically of expectation; of expectation of Christmas. We are in waiting. This is clear to see. But all our life is also in waiting. And prayer is always in expectation, because we know that the Lord will answer. Even death trembles when a Christian prays, because it knows that everyone who prays has an ally stronger than it has: the Risen Lord. Death has already been defeated in Christ, and the day will come when everything will be final, and it will no longer scorn our life and our happiness.

Let us learn to stay in waiting; in expectation of the Lord. The Lord comes to visit us, not only in these great feasts - Christmas, Easter - but rather the Lord visits us every day, in the intimacy of our heart if we are in waiting. And very often we do not realise that the Lord is nearby, that He knocks on our door, and we let Him pass on by. “I am afraid of God when He passes”, Saint Augustine used to say. “I am afraid He will pass and I will not realise”. And the Lord passes, the Lord comes, the Lord knocks. But if your ears are filled with other noise, you will not hear the call of the Lord.

Brothers and sisters, staying in waiting: this is prayer. Thank you.





Pope Francis      16.12.20  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace        Catechesis on prayer: 19. The Prayer of Intercession       Ephesians 6: 18-20


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Pope Francis - The prayer of intercession - General Audience  16.12.2020


Those who pray never turn their backs on the world. If prayer does not gather the joys and sorrows, the hopes and the anxieties of humanity, it becomes a “decorative” activity, a superficial, theatrical, solitary way of behaving. We all need interiority: to retreat within a space and a time dedicated to our relationship with God. But this does not mean that we evade reality. In prayer, God “takes us, blesses us, then breaks us and gives us”, to satisfy everyone’s hunger. Every Christian is called to become in God’s hands bread, broken and shared. That is, it is concrete prayer, that is not an escape.

So, men and women of prayer seek solitude and silence, not so as not be disturbed, but so as to listen better to God’s voice. Sometimes they withdraw from the world altogether, in the secret of their own room, as Jesus recommended (see Mt 6:6). But wherever they are, they always keep the doors of their hearts wide open: an open door for those who pray without knowing how to pray; for those who do not pray at all but who carry within themselves a suffocating cry, a hidden invocation; for those who have erred and have lost the way… Whoever can knock on the door of someone who prays finds a compassionate heart which does not exclude anyone. Prayer comes from our hearts and our voices and gives heart and voice to so many people who do not know how to pray or who do not want to pray or for whom it is impossible to pray: we are the heart and the voice of these people, rising to Jesus, rising to the Father as intercessors. In the solitude of those who pray, whether the solitude lasts a long time or only a half hour, to pray, those who pray separate themselves from everything and from everyone to find everything and everyone in God. These people pray for the whole world, bearing its sorrows and sins on their shoulders. They pray for each and every person: they are like God’s “antennas” in this world. The one who prays sees the face of Christ in every poor person who knocks at the door, in every person who has lost the meaning of things. In the Catechism we read: “intercession - asking on behalf of another (…) has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God's mercy”. This is beautiful. When we pray we are in tune with God’s mercy; having mercy regarding our sins, being merciful with ourselves, but also merciful with all those who have asked to be prayed for, those for whom we want to pray in tune with God’s heart. This is true prayer: in tune with God’s mercy, with His merciful heart. “In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates in Christ's, as an expression of the communion of saints” (n. 2635). What does it mean to participate in Christ’s intercession? When I intercede for someone or pray for someone: because Christ is before the Father He is the intercessor, He prays for us, He prays showing the Father the wounds of His hands because Jesus is physically present before the Father with His body. And Jesus is our intercessor and to pray is to be a bit like Jesus: to intercede in Jesus to the Father, for others. This is very beautiful.

The human heart tends toward prayer. It is simply human. Those who do not love their brother or sister do not pray seriously. Someone might say: one cannot pray when steeped in hatred; one cannot pray when steeped in indifference. Prayer is offered only in the spirit of love. Those who do not love pretend to pray, they believe they are praying, but they are not praying because the lack the proper spirit, which is love. In the Church, those who are familiar with the sadness and joy of others dig deeper than those who investigate the worlds “chief systems”. Because of this, human experience is present in every prayer, because no matter what mistakes people may have committed, they should never be rejected or set aside.

When believers, moved by the Holy Spirit, pray for sinners, no selection is made, no judgement or condemnation is uttered: they pray for everyone. And they pray for themselves. At that moment they know they are not that different from those for whom they pray. They realize they are sinners among sinners and they pray for everyone. The lesson of the parable of the Pharisee and the publican is always alive and always relevant (see Lk 18:9-14): we are not better than anyone, we are all brothers and sisters who bear fragility, suffering and being sinners in common. Therefore, a prayer that we can say to God is this: “Lord, no one is just in your sight” (see Ps 143:2), this is what one of the Psalms says: “Lord, no one who lives is just in your sight, none of us: we are all sinners – we are all in debt, each with an outstanding balance to pay; no one is without sin in Your eyes. Lord, have mercy on us!” And with this spirit, prayer is fruitful because we go humbly before God and pray for everyone. Instead, the Pharisee was praying proudly: “I thank you, Lord, because I am not like others, sinners: I am just, I always do…”. This is not prayer: this is looking at yourself in a mirror, it is not looking at one’s own reality, no. It is like looking at yourself made-up in a mirror because of your pride.

The world keeps going thanks to this chain of people who pray, who intercede, and who are unknown for the most part…but not unknown to God! There are many anonymous Christians who, in times of persecution, have repeated the words of our Lord: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34).

The Good Shepherd remains faithful even before the awareness of the sin of His own people: the Good Shepherd continues to be a Father even when His children distance themselves and abandon Him. He perseveres in His service as shepherd even with those who have bloodied His hands; He does not close His heart to those who have even made Him suffer.

The Church, in all of her members, has the mission to practice the prayer of intercession: to intercede for others. This is especially so for those who exercise roles of responsibility: parents, teachers, ordained ministers, superiors of communities… Like Abraham and Moses, they must at times “defend” the people entrusted to them before God. In reality, we are talking about protecting them with God’s eyes and heart, with His same invincible compassion and tenderness. Pray with tenderness for others.

Brothers and sisters, we are all leaves on the same tree: each one that falls reminds us of the great piety that must be nourished in prayer, for one another. So let us pray for each other. It will do us good and do good for everyone. Thank you.




Pope Francis   30.12.20  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace  Catechesis on prayer - 20. The Prayer of Thanksgiving  1 Thessalonians 5: 16-19,     Luke 17: 12-19 


Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Pope Francis The Prayer of Thanksgiving General Audience 30.12.2020

Today, I would like to focus on the prayer of thanksgiving. And I take my cue from an episode recounted by the Evangelist Luke. While Jesus was on the way, ten lepers approached Him who begged him: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (17:13). We know that those who had leprosy suffered not only physically, but also from social marginalization and religious marginalization. They were marginalized. Jesus did not back off from meeting them. Sometimes, He surpassed the limitations imposed by the law and touched, embraced and healed the sick person – which was not supposed to be done. In this case, there was no contact. From a distance, Jesus invited them to present themselves to the priests (v. 14), who were designated by law to certify healings that had occurred. Jesus said nothing else. He heard their prayer, He heard their cry for mercy, and He sent them immediately to the priests.

Those ten lepers trusted, they did not remain there until they were cured, no: they trusted and they went immediately, and while they were on their way, they were cured, all ten were cured. The priests would have therefore been able to verify their healing and readmit them to normal life. But this is where the important point enters in: only one in the group, before going to the priests, returned to thank Jesus and to praise God for the grace received. Only one, the other nine continued on their way. And Jesus points out that that man was a Samaritan, a sort of “heretic” for the Jews of that time. Jesus comments: “Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (17:18). This narrative is touching.

This narrative, so to speak, divides the world in two: those who do not give thanks and those who do; those who take everything as if it is owed them, and those who welcome everything as a gift, as grace. The Catechism says: “every event and need can become an offering of thanksgiving” (n. 2638). The prayer of thanksgiving always begins here: to recognize that grace precedes us. We were thought of before we learned how to think; we were loved before we learned how to love; we were desired before our hearts conceived a desire. If we view life like this, then “thank you” becomes the driving force of our day. And how often we even forget to say “thank you”.

For us Christians, thanksgiving was the name given to the most essential Sacrament there is: the Eucharist. In fact, the Greek word, means precisely this: thanksgiving, eucharist: thanksgiving. Christians, as all believers, bless God for the gift of life. To live is first and foremost to have received life! All of us are born because someone wanted us to have life. And this is only the first of a long series of debts that we incur by living. Debts of gratitude. During our lives, more than one person has gazed on us with pure eyes, gratuitously. Often, these people are educators, catechists, persons who carried out their roles above and beyond what was required of them. And they provoked us to be grateful. Even friendship is a gift for which we should always be grateful.

This “thank you” that we must say continually, this thanks that Christians share with everyone, grows in meeting Jesus. The Gospels attest that when Jesus passed by, He often provoked joy and praise to God in those whom He met. The Gospel accounts are filled with prayerful people who are greatly touched by the coming of the Saviour. And we too are called to participate in this immense jubilation. The episode of the ten lepers who are healed also suggests this. Naturally, all of them were happy for having recovered their health, allowing them to end that unending forced quarantine that excluded them from the community. But among them, there was one who experienced an additional joy: in addition to being healed, he rejoices at meeting Jesus. He is not only freed from evil, but he now possesses the certainty of being loved. This is the crux: when you thank someone, give thanks, you express the certainty that you are loved. And this is a huge step: to have the certainty that you are loved. It is the discovery of love as the force that governs the world – as Dante said: the Love that “moves the sun and other stars” (Paradise, XXXIII, 145). We are no longer vagabonds wandering aimlessly here and there, no: we have a home, we dwell in Christ, and from that “dwelling” we contemplate the rest of the world which appears infinitely more beautiful to us. We are children of love, we are brothers and sisters of love. We are men and woman who thank.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, let us seek to remain always in the joy of encountering Jesus. Let us cultivate joyfulness. The devil, instead, after having deluded us – with whatever temptation – always leaves us sad and alone. If we are in Christ, there is no sin and no threat that can ever prevent us from continuing joyfully on our way, together with many other companions on the road.

Above all, let us not forget to thank: if we are bearers of gratitude, the world itself will become better, even if only a little bit, but that is enough to transmit a bit of hope. The world needs hope. And with gratitude, with this habit of saying thank you, we transmit a bit of hope. Everything is united and everything is connected, and everyone needs to do his or her part wherever we are. The path to happiness is the one Saint Paul described at the end of one of his letters: “Pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thes 5:17-19). Do not quench the Spirit, what a beautiful project of life! Do not quench the Spirit within us that leads us to gratitude. Thank you.





Pope Francis     13.01.21  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace      Catechesis on prayer - 21. The Prayer of Praise         Psalm 145: 1-3, 21


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Pope Francis - Prayer and Praise - General Audience 13.01.2021


Let us continue our catechesis on prayer, and today we will give space to the dimension of praise.

We will take as our starting point a critical passage in the life of Jesus. After the first miracles and the involvement of the disciples in the proclamation of the Kingdom of God, the mission of the Messiah goes through a crisis. John the Baptist doubts and makes Him receive this message - John is in jail: “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Mt 11:3), because he feels this anguish of not knowing whether he is mistaken in his proclamation. There are always dark moments, moments of spiritual night-time, and John is going through this moment. There is hostility in the villages along the lake, where Jesus had performed so many prodigious signs (see Mt 11:20-24). Now, precisely in this disappointing moment, Matthew relates a truly surprising fact: Jesus does not lift up a lament to the Father, but rather He raises a hymn of jubilation: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth”, says Jesus, "that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes” (Mt 11:25). So, in the midst of a crisis, amid the darkness of the soul of so many people, such as John the Baptist, Jesus blesses the Father, Jesus praises the Father. But why?

First and foremost, He praises Him for who He is: “Father, Lord of heaven and earth”. Jesus rejoices in His spirit because He knows and He feels that His Father is the God of the Universe, and vice versa, the Lord of all that exists is Father “My Father”. Praise springs from this experience of feeling that He is “Son of the Most High”. Jesus feels he is Son of the Most High.

And then Jesus praises the Father for favouring the little ones. It is what He Himself experiences, preaching in the villages: the “learned” and the “wise” remain suspicious and closed, who are calculating; while the “little ones” open themselves and welcome His message. This can only be the will of the Father, and Jesus rejoices in this. We too must rejoice and praise God because humble and simple people welcome the Gospel. When I see these simple people, these humble people who go on pilgrimages, who go to pray, who sing, who praise, people who perhaps lack many things but whose humility leads them to praise God… In the future of the world and in the hopes of the Church there are the "little ones": those who do not consider themselves better than others, who are aware of their own limitations and their sins, who do not want to lord it over others, who, in God the Father, recognise that we are all brothers and sisters.

Therefore, in that moment of apparent failure, where everything is dark, Jesus prays, praising the Father. And His prayer also leads us, the readers of the Gospel, to judge our personal defeats in a different way, to judge differently the situations in which we do not see clearly the presence and action of God, when it seems that evil prevails and there is no way to stop it. In those moments Jesus, who highly recommended the prayer of asking questions, at the very moment when He would have had reason to ask the Father for explanations, instead begins to praise Him. It seems to be a contradiction, but it is there, it is the truth.

To whom is praise helpful? To us or to God? A text of the Eucharistic liturgy invites us to pray to God in this way, it says this: “Although you have no need of our praise, yet our thanksgiving is itself your gift, since our praises add nothing to your greatness, but profit us for salvation” (Roman Missal, Common Preface IV). By giving praise, we are saved.

The prayer of praise serves us. The Catechism defines it this way - the prayer of praise “shares in the blessed happiness of the pure of heart who love God in faith before seeing Him in glory” (no. 2639). Paradoxically it must be practised not only when life fills us with happiness, but above all in difficult moments, in moments of darkness when the path becomes an uphill climb. That too is the time for praise. Like Jesus [who] in the dark moment praises the Father. Because we learn that, through that ascent, that difficult path, that wearisome path, those demanding passages, we get to see a new panorama, a broader horizon. Giving praise is like breathing pure oxygen: it purifies the soul, it makes you look far ahead so as not to remain imprisoned in the difficult moment, in the darkness of difficulty.

There is a great teaching in that prayer that for eight centuries has never lost its beat, that Saint Francis composed at the end of his life: the “Canticle of Brother Sun” or “of the creatures”. The Poverello did not compose it in a moment of joy, in a moment of wellbeing, but on the contrary, in the midst of hardship. Francis was by then almost blind, and he felt in his soul the weight of a solitude he had never before experienced: the world had not changed since the beginning of his preaching, there were still those who let themselves be torn apart by quarrels, and in addition he was aware that death was approaching ever nearer. It could have been the moment of disillusionment, of that extreme disillusionment and the perception of his own failure. But Francis prayed at that instant of sadness, in that dark instant: “All praise is yours, my Lord”. He prays by giving praise. Francis praises God for everything, for all the gifts of creation, and even for death, which he courageously calls “sister”. These examples of saints, of Christians, and also of Jesus, of praising God in difficult moments, open to us the gates of a great road towards the Lord, and always purifies us. Praise always purifies.

The Saints show us that we can always give praise, in good times and bad, because God is the faithful Friend. This is the foundation of praise: God is the faithful friend, and His love never fails. He is always beside us, He always awaits us. It has been said, “He is the sentinel who is close to you and keeps you going with confidence”. In difficult and dark moments, let us have the courage to say: “Blessed are you, O Lord”. Praising the Lord. This will do us so much good. Thank you.





Pope Francis       20.01.21  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace       Catechesis - Prayer for Christian Unity       John 17: 1,9, 20-21


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Pope Francis - Christian Unity - General Audience 20.01.2021


In this catechesis, we will reflect on the prayer for Christian unity. In fact, the week of the 18th to the 25th of January is dedicated specifically to this – to ask God for the gift of unity to overcome the scandal of division between believers in Jesus. After the Last Supper, He prayed for His own, “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). This was His prayer before the Passion, we could call it His spiritual testament. Let us note, however, that the Lord did not command that His disciples be united. No, He prayed. He prayed to the Father for us, so that we might be one. This means that we are not able to achieve unity with our own strength. Above all, unity is a gift, it is a grace to be requested through prayer.

Each one of us needs it. In fact, we know that we are not capable of preserving unity even within ourselves. Even the apostle Paul felt a painful conflict within himself: wanting the good but inclined toward evil (see Rm 7:19). He had thus grasped the root of so many divisions that surround us – between people, in families, in society, between nations and even between believers – and inside us. The Second Vatican Council stated, “the imbalances under which the world labors are linked with that more basic imbalance which is rooted in the heart of man. For in man himself many elements wrestle with one another. […] Hence he suffers from internal divisions, and from these flow so many and such great discords in society” (Gaudium et spes, 10). Therefore, the solution to these divisions is not to oppose someone, because discord generates more discord. The true remedy begins by asking God for peace, reconciliation, unity.

And this is valid, first of all, for Christians. Unity can be achieved only as a fruit of prayer. Diplomatic efforts and academic dialogue are not enough. These things are done, but they are not enough. Jesus knew this and opened the way for us by praying. Our prayer for unity is thus a humble but trusting participation in the Lord’s prayer, who promised that any prayer said in His name would be heard by the Father (see Jn 15:7). At this point, we can ask ourselves: “Do I pray for unity?” It is Jesus’s will but, if we inspect the intentions for which we pray, we would probably realize that we have prayed little, perhaps never, for Christian unity. And yet, the world’s faith depends on it; in fact, the Lord asked that we be one “so that the world might believe” (Jn 17:21). The world will not believe because we will have convinced it with good arguments, but if we will have borne witness to that love that unites us and draws us near, yes: it will believe.

During this time of serious hardship, this prayer is even more necessary so that unity might prevail over conflicts. It is urgent that we set aside preferences to promote the common good, and so our good example is fundamental: it is essential that Christians pursue the path toward full visible unity. In the last decades, thanks be to God, there have been many steps forward, but we still need to persevere in love and in prayer, without lacking trust or tiring. It is the path that the Holy Spirit gave rise to in the Church, in Christians and in us, from which there is no turning back. Ever onward.

To pray means to fight for unity. Yes, fight, because our enemy, the devil, is the one who divides, as the word itself says. Jesus asks the Holy Spirit for unity, to create unity. The devil always divides. He always divides because it is convenient for him to divide. He fosters division everywhere and in any way, while the Holy Spirit always joins in unity. In general, the devil does not tempt us with high theology, but with the weaknesses of our brothers and sisters. He is astute: he magnifies others’ mistakes and defects, sows discord, provokes criticism and creates factions. God has another way: He takes us as we are, He loves us so much, but He loves us as we are and takes us as we are; He takes those of us who are different, He takes sinners, and He always nudges us towards unity. We can evaluate ourselves and ask ourselves if, in the places in which we live, we nurture conflict or fight for an increase of unity with the tools that God has given us: prayer and love. What fuels conflict, instead, is gossip, always talking behind peoples’ backs. Gossip is the most handy weapon the devil has to divide the Christian community, to divide families, to divide friends, to always divide. The Holy Spirit always inspires unity.

The theme of this Week of Prayer specifically regards love: “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit” (see Jn 15:5-9). The root of communion and love is Christ who makes us overcome our prejudices to see in others a brother or sister to be loved always. Then we will discover that the Christians of other confessions – with their traditions, with their history – are gifts from God, they are gifts present within the territories of our diocesan and parish communities. Let us begin to pray for them and, when possible, with them. We will thus learn to love and appreciate them. Prayer, the Council reminds us, is the soul of every ecumenical movement (see Unitatis redintegratio, 8). Therefore, may prayer be the starting point to help Jesus make His dream come true: that they all may be one. Thank you.





Pope Francis   27.01.21  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace   Catechesis on prayer - 22. The prayer with the Sacred Scripture   Psalm 119: 1,15,18,47,105,130


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Pope Francis - Prayer with the Sacred Scripture - General Audience 27.01.21

Today I would like to focus on the prayer we can do beginning with a Bible passage. The words of the Sacred Scripture were not written to remain imprisoned on papyrus, parchment or paper, but to be received by a person who prays, making them blossom in his or her heart. The Word of God goes to the heart. The Catechism affirms that: “prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture” – the Bible should not be read like a novel, it must be accompanied by prayer – “so that a dialogue takes place between God and man” (no. 2653). This is where prayer leads you, because it is a dialogue with God. That Bible verse was written for me too, centuries and centuries ago, to bring me a word of God. It was written for every one of us. This experience happens to all believers: a passage from the Scripture, heard many times already, unexpectedly speaks to me one day, and enlightens a situation that I am living. But it is necessary that I, that day, be present for that appointment with that Word. That I may be there, listening to the Word. Every day God passes and sows a seed in the soil of our lives. We do not know whether today he will find dry ground, brambles, or good soil that will make that seed grow (cf. Mk 4:3-9). That they become for us the living Word of God depends on us, on our prayer, on the open heart with which we approach the Scriptures. God passes, continually, and through the Scripture. And here I return to what I said last week, to what Saint Augustine said: “I am afraid of God when he passes”. Why is he afraid? That he will not listen to him. That I will not realize that he is the Lord.

Through prayer a new incarnation of the Word takes place. And we are the “tabernacles” where the words of God want to be welcomed and preserved, so that they may visit the world. This is why we must approach the Bible without ulterior motives, without exploiting it. The believer does not turn to the Holy Scriptures to support his or her own philosophical and moral view, but because he or she hopes for an encounter; the believer knows that those words were written in the Holy Spirit, and that therefore in that same Spirit they must be welcomed and understood, so that the encounter can occur.

It irritates me a little when I hear Christians who recite verses from the Bible like parrots. “Oh, yes… Oh, the Lord says… He wants this…”. But did you encounter the Lord, with that verse? It is not a question only of memory: it is a question of the memory of the heart, that which opens you to the encounter with the Lord. And that word, that verse, leads you to the encounter with the Lord.

Therefore, we read the Scriptures because they “read us”. And it is a grace to be able to recognize oneself in this passage or that character, in this or that situation. The Bible was not written for a generic humanity, but for us, for me, for you, for men and women in flesh and blood, men and women who have a name and a surname, like me, like you. And the Word of God, infused with the Holy Spirit, when it is received with an open heart, does not leave things as they were before: never. Something changes. And this is the grace and the strength of the Word of God.

The Christian tradition is rich in experiences and reflections on prayer with the Sacred Scripture. In particular, the method of “Lectio divina” has been established; it originated in monastic circles, but is now also practised by Christians who frequent their parishes. It is first of all a matter of reading the biblical passage attentively: this is Lectio divina, first and foremost reading the Bible passage attentively, or more: I would say with “obedience” to the text, to understand what it means in and of itself. One then enters into dialogue with Scripture, so that those words become a cause for meditation and prayer: while remaining faithful to the text, I begin to ask myself what it “says to me”. This is a delicate step: we must not slip into subjective interpretations, but we must be part of the living way of Tradition, which unites each of us to Sacred Scripture. The last step of Lectio divina is contemplation. Words and thoughts give way here to love, as between lovers who sometimes look at each other in silence. The biblical text remains, but like a mirror, like an icon to be contemplated. And in this way, there is dialogue.

Through prayer, the Word of God comes to abide in us and we abide in it. The Word inspires good intentions and sustains action; it gives us strength and serenity, and even when it challenges us, it gives us peace. On “bad” and confusing days, it guarantees to the heart a core of confidence and of love that protects it from the attacks of the evil one.

In this way the Word of God is made flesh – allow me to use this expression - it is made flesh in those who receive it in prayer. The intuition emerges in some ancient texts that Christians identify so completely with the Word that, even if all the Bibles in the world were to be burned, its “mold” would still be saved because of the imprint it has left on the life of the saints. This is a beautiful expression.

Christian life is at the same time a work of obedience and creativity. A good Christian must be obedient, but he or she must be creative. Obedient, because they listen to the Word of God; creative, because they have the Holy Spirit within who drives them to be so, to lead them on. Jesus, at the end of one of his parables, makes this comparison – he says, “Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure – the heart - what is new and what is old” (Mt 13:52). The Holy Scriptures are an inexhaustible treasure. May the Lord grant to all of us to draw ever more from them, though prayer.




Pope Francis      03.02.21  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace     Catechesis on prayer - 23. Praying in the liturgy        Romans 12: 1    


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Pope Francis Praying in the Liturgy - General Audience 03.02.2021


In the history of the Church, there has often been a temptation to practise an intimist Christianity, which does not recognise the spiritual importance of public liturgical rites. Often, this tendency claimed the supposed greater purity of a religiousness that did not depend on external ceremonies, which were considered a useless or harmful burden. At the centre of the criticism was not a particular ritual form, or a particular way of celebrating, but rather the liturgy itself, the liturgical form of praying.

Indeed, in the Church one can find certain forms of spirituality that have failed to adequately integrate the liturgical moment. Many of the faithful, although they participate assiduously in the liturgy, especially Sunday Mass, have instead drawn nourishment for their faith and spiritual life from other sources, of a devotional type.

Much has been achieved in recent decades. The Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium of the Second Vatican Council represents a pivotal point in this long journey. It comprehensively and organically reaffirms the importance of the divine liturgy for the life of Christians, who find therein that objective mediation required by the fact that Jesus Christ is not an idea or a sentiment, but a living Person, and His Mystery a historical event. The prayer of Christians passes through tangible mediations: Sacred Scripture, the Sacraments, liturgical rites, the community. In Christian life, the corporeal and material sphere may not be dispensed with, because in Jesus Christ it became the way of salvation. We might say that we must pray with the body too: the body enters into prayer.

Therefore, there is no Christian spirituality that is not rooted in the celebration of the holy mysteries. The Catechism writes: “The mission of Christ and of the Holy Spirit proclaims, makes present, and communicates the mystery of salvation, which is continued in the heart that prays” (2655). The liturgy, in itself, is not only spontaneous prayer, but something more and more original: it is an act that founds the whole Christian experience and, therefore, also prayer. It is event, it is happening, it is presence, it is encounter. It is an encounter with Christ. Christ makes himself present in the Holy Spirit through the sacramental signs: hence the need for us Christians to participate in the divine mysteries. A Christianity without a liturgy, I dare say, is perhaps a Christianity without Christ. Without Christ in full. Even in the sparest rite, such as that which some Christians have celebrated and continue to celebrate in places of incarceration, or in the seclusion of a house during times of persecution, Christ is truly present and gives Himself to His faithful.

The liturgy, precisely because of its objective dimension, demands to be celebrated with fervour, so that the grace poured out in the rite is not dispersed but instead reaches the experience of all. The Catechism explains it very well; it says: “Prayer internalises and assimilates the liturgy during and after its celebration” (ibid.). Many Christian prayers do not originate from the liturgy, but all of them, if they are Christian, presuppose the liturgy, that is, the sacramental mediation of Jesus Christ. Every time we celebrate a Baptism, or consecrate the bread and wine in the Eucharist, or anoint the body of a sick person with Holy Oil, Christ is here! It is He who acts and is present just as He was when He healed the weak limbs of a sick person, or when at the Last Supper He delivered His testament for the salvation of the world.

The prayer of the Christian makes the sacramental presence of Jesus his or her own. What is external to us becomes part of us: the liturgy expresses this even in the very natural gesture of eating. The Mass cannot simply be "listened to”: it is even a false expression, “I’m going to listen to Mass”. Mass cannot merely be listened to, as if we were merely spectators of something that slips away without our involvement. The Mass is always celebrated, and not only by the priest who presides over it, but by all Christians who experience it. And the centre is Christ! All of us, in the diversity of gifts and ministries, join in His action, because He, Christ, is the Protagonist of the liturgy.

When the first Christians began to worship, they did so by actualizing Jesus’ deeds and words, with the light and power of the Holy Spirit, so that their lives, reached by that grace, would become a spiritual sacrifice offered to God. This approach was a true “revolution”. Saint Paul writes in the Letter to the Romans: “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (12:1). Life is called to become worship to God, but this cannot happen without prayer, especially liturgical prayer. May this thought help us all when we go to Mass: I go to pray in the community, I go to pray with Christ who is present. When we go to the celebration of a Baptism, for example, it is Christ who is there, present, who baptizes. “But Father, this is an idea, a figure of speech”: no, it is not a figure of speech. Christ is present, and in the liturgy you pray with Christ who is beside you.




Pope Francis    10.02.21  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace       Catechesis on prayer - 24. Prayer in daily life        Colossians 3: 16,17


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Pope Francis - Prayer in Daily Life - General Audience 10.02.2021


In the preceding catechesis we saw how Christian prayer is “anchored” in the Liturgy. Today, we will shed light on how the Liturgy always enters daily life: on the streets, in offices, on public transportation… And there it continues the dialogue with God: the person who prays is like someone in love who always bears the beloved in his or her heart wherever they go.

Essentially, everything becomes a part of this dialogue with God: every joy becomes a reason for praise, every trial is an opportunity to ask for help. Prayer is always alive in our lives, like embers, even when the mouth does not speak, but the heart speaks. Every thought, even the apparently “profane” ones, can be permeated by prayer. There is even a prayerful aspect in the human intelligence; it is, in fact, a window peering into the mystery: it illuminates the few steps in front of us and then opens up to the entire reality, this reality that precedes it and surpasses it. This mystery does not have a disquieting or anxious face. No, knowledge of Christ makes us confident that whatever our eyes and the eyes of our minds cannot see, rather than nothing being there, there is someone who is waiting for us, there is infinite grace. And thus, Christian prayer instils an invincible hope in the human heart: whatever experience we touch on our journey, God’s love can turn it into good.

Regarding this, the Catechism reads: “We learn to pray at certain moments by hearing the Word of the Lord and sharing in his Paschal Mystery, but his Spirit is offered us at all times, in the events of each day, to make prayer spring up from us. Time is in the Father’s hands; it is in the present that we encounter him, not yesterday or tomorrow, but today” (n. 2659). Today I meet God, today is always the day of the encounter.

There exists no other wonderful day than the day we are living. Those who live always thinking about the future, in the future: “But it will be better...”, but do not take each day as it comes: these are people who live in their fantasy, they do not know how to deal with concrete reality. And today is real, today is concrete. And prayer is to be done today. Jesus comes to meet us today, the day we are living. And it is prayer that transforms this day into grace, or better, it transforms us: it appeases anger, sustains love, multiplies joy, instils the strength to forgive. Sometimes it will seem that it is no longer we who are living, but that grace lives and works in us through prayer. It is grace that awaits, but always this, don’t forget: take today as it comes. And let’s think about when an angry thought comes to you, of unhappiness, that moves you toward bitterness, stop yourself. And let’s say to the Lord: “Where are you? And where am I going?” And the Lord is there, the Lord will give you the right word, the advice to go ahead without that bitter, negative taste. For prayer is always, using a profane word, is positive. Always. It will carry you ahead. Each day that begins is accompanied by courage if it is welcomed in prayer. Thus, the problems we face no longer seem to be obstacles to our happiness, but appeals from God, opportunities to meet Him. And when a person is accompanied by the Lord, he or she feels more courageous, freer, and even happier.

Let us pray always, then, for everyone, even for our enemies. Jesus counselled us to do this: “Pray for your enemies”. Let us pray for our dear ones, even those we do not know. Let us pray even for our enemies, as I said, as the Scriptures often invite us to do. Prayer inclines us toward a superabundant love. Let us pray above all for people who are sad, for those who weep in solitude and despair that there still might be someone who loves them. Pray works miracles; and the poor then understand, by God’s grace that, even in their precarious situation, the prayer of a Christian makes Christ’s compassion present. He, in fact, looked with great tenderness on the weary and lost crowd who were like sheep without a shepherd (cf Mk 6:34). The Lord is – let’s not forget – the Lord of compassion, of nearness, of tenderness: three words never to be forgotten regarding the Lord. Because this is the Lord’s style: compassion, nearness, tenderness.

Prayer helps us love others, despite their mistakes and sins. The person is always more important than their actions, and Jesus did not judge the world, but He saved it. What a horrible life is that of the person who always judges others, who is always condemning, judging… This is a horrible, unhappy life, when Jesus came to save us. Open your heart, pardon, give others the benefit of the doubt, understand, be close to others, be compassionate, be tender, like Jesus. We need to love each and every person, remembering in prayer that we are all sinners and at the same time loved individually by God. Loving the world in this way, loving it with tenderness, we will discover that each day and everything bears within it a fragment of God’s mystery.

Again, the Catechism reads: “Prayer in the events of each day and each moment is one of the secrets of the Kingdom revealed to ‘little children,’ to the servants of Christ, to the poor of the beatitudes. It is right and good to pray so that the coming of the kingdom of justice and peace may influence the march of history, but it is just as important to bring the help of prayer into humble, everyday situations; all forms of prayer can be the leaven to which the Lord compares the kingdom” (n. 2660).

The human person – men and women, all of us, – the human person is like a breath, like a blade of grass (cf Ps 144:4; 103:15). The philosopher Pascal once wrote: “There is no need for the whole universe to take up arms to crush him: a vapour, a drop of water is enough to kill him.”[1] We are fragile beings, but we know how to pray: this is our greatest dignity and it is also our strength. Have courage. Pray in every moment, in every situation so the Lord might be near to us. And when a prayer is said according to the heart of Jesus, it obtains miracles.

[1] Thoughts, 186.





Pope Francis       03.03.21  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace       Catechesis on prayer - 25. Prayer and the Trinity. 1         Romans 8: 14-15, 26-27


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Pope Francis - Prayer and the Trinity  - General Audience  03.03.21


In our journey of catechesis on prayer, today and next week we will see how, thanks to Jesus Christ, prayer opens us up to the Trinity –to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - to the immense sea of God who is Love. It is Jesus who opened up Heaven to us and projected us into a relationship with God. It was he who did this: he opened up to us this relationship with the Triune God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is what the Apostle John affirms at the conclusion of the prologue of his Gospel: “No one has ever seen God: the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made Him known” (Jn 1:18). Jesus revealed the identity to us, this identity of God, Father Son and Holy Spirit. We really did not know how to pray: what words, what feelings and what language were appropriate for God. In that request the disciples addressed to the Master, which we have often recalled in the course of these catecheses, there is all of humanity’s fumbling, repeated attempts, often unsuccessful, to address the Creator: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk 11:1).

Not all prayers are equal, and not all are convenient: the Bible itself attests to the negative outcome of many prayers, which are rejected. Perhaps God at times is not content with our prayers and we are not even aware of this. God looks at the hands of those who pray: to make them pure it is not necessary to wash them; if anything, one must refrain from evil acts. Saint Francis prayed: «Nullu homo ène dignu te mentovare», that is, “no man is worthy of naming you” (Canticle of the Sun).

But perhaps the most moving acknowledgment of the poverty of our prayer came from the lips of the Roman centurion who one day begged Jesus to heal his sick servant (cf. Mt 8:5-13). He felt totally inadequate: he was not a Jew, he was an officer in the detested occupying army. But his concern for his servant emboldens him, and he says: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed” (v. 8). It is the phrase we also repeat in every Eucharistic liturgy. To dialogue with God is a grace: we are not worthy of it, we have no rights to claim, we “limp” with every word and every thought... But Jesus is the door that opens us to this dialogue with God.

Why should humanity be loved by God? There are no obvious reasons, there is no proportion… So much so that most mythologies do not contemplate the possibility of a god who cares about human affairs; on the contrary, they are considered bothersome and boring, entirely negligible. Remember God’s phrase to his people, repeated in Deuteronomy: “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us?” This closeness of God is the revelation! Some philosophers say that God can only think of himself. If anything, it is we humans who try to convince the deity and be pleasing to his eyes. Hence the duty of “religion”, with the procession of sacrifices and devotions to be offered again and again to ingratiate ourselves with a mute God, an indifferent God. There is no dialogue. It was only Jesus, it was only the revelation of God to Moses before Jesus, when God presented himself; it was only the Bible that opened us up to dialogue with God. Remember: “What great nation is there that has a god so near to it as ours?”. This is God’s closeness, that opens us up to dialogue with him.

A God who loves humanity: we would never have had the courage to believe in him, had we not known Jesus. The knowledge of Jesus made us understand this, it let this be revealed to us. It is the scandal – it is a scandal! - that we find inscribed in the parable of the merciful father, or in that of the shepherd who goes in search of the lost sheep (cf. Lk 15). We would not have been able to conceive or even comprehend such stories if we had not met Jesus. What kind of God is prepared to die for people? Which one? What kind of God loves always and patiently, without demanding to be loved in return? What God accepts the tremendous lack of gratitude of a son who asks for his inheritance in advance and leaves home, squandering everything? (cf. Lk 15:12-13).

It is Jesus who reveals God’s heart. Thus Jesus tells us through his life the extent to which God is a Father. Tam Pater nemo: No one is Father like he is. The paternity that is closeness, compassion and tenderness. Do not forget these three words, that are God’s style: closeness, compassion and tenderness. It is his way of expressing his paternity towards us. It is difficult for us to imagine from afar the love with which the Holy Trinity is filled, and the depth of the reciprocal benevolence that exists between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Eastern icons offer us a glimpse of this mystery that is the origin and joy of the whole universe.

Above all, it was beyond us to believe that this divine love would expand, landing on our human shore: we are the recipients of a love that has no equal on earth. The Catechism explains: “The sacred humanity of Jesus is therefore the way by which the Holy Spirit teaches us to pray to God our Father” (no. 2664). And this is the grace of our faith. We really could not have hoped for a higher vocation: the humanity of Jesus – God who came close to us in Jesus - made available to us the very life of the Trinity, and threw wide open this door of the mystery of the love of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.





Pope Francis     17.03.21  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace      Catechesis on prayer: 26. Prayer and the Trinity. 2       John 14: 15-17, 25-26


Pope Francis - Prayer and the Holy Spirit  General Audience 17.03.2021

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today we will complete the catechesis on prayer as a relationship with the Holy Trinity, in particular with the Holy Spirit.

The first gift of every Christian existence is the Holy Spirit. It is not one of many gifts, but rather the fundamental Gift. The Spirit is the gift that Jesus had promised to send us. Without the Spirit there is no relationship with Christ and with the Father, because the Spirit opens our heart to God’s presence and draws it into that “vortex” of love that is the very heart of God. We are not merely guests and pilgrims on a journey on this earth; we are also guests and pilgrims of the Trinity. We are like Abraham, who one day, welcoming three wayfarers in his own tent, encountered God. If we can truly invoke God, calling him “Abba - Daddy”, it is because the Holy Spirit dwells in us; He is the One who transforms us deep within and makes us experience the moving joy of being loved by God as his true children. All the spiritual work within us towards God is performed by the Holy Spirit, this gift. He works within us to carry forward out Christian life towards the Father, with Jesus.

The Catechism, in this respect says: “Every time we begin to pray to Jesus it is the Holy Spirit who draws us on the way of prayer by his prevenient grace. Since he teaches us to pray by recalling Christ, how could we not pray to the Spirit too? That is why the Church invites us to call upon the Holy Spirit every day, especially at the beginning and the end of every important action” (no. 2670). This is the work of the Spirit in us. He “reminds” us of Jesus and makes him present to us - we might say that he is our Trinitarian memory, he is the memory of God in us - and he makes it present to Jesus, so that he is not reduced to a character from the past: that is, the Spirit brings Jesus to the present in our consciousness. If Christ were only far away in time, we would be alone and lost in the world. Yes, we will remember Jesus, there, far away but it is the Spirit that brings him today, now, in this moment, in our heart. But in the Spirit everything is brought to life: the possibility of encountering Christ is open to Christians of every time and place. The possibility of encountering Christ, not only as a historical figure, is open. No: he attracts Christ to our hearts, it is the Spirit who makes us encounter Jesus. He is not distant, the Spirit is with us: Jesus still teaches his disciples by transforming their hearts, as he did with Peter, with Paul, with Mary Magdalene, with all the apostles. But why is Jesus present? Because it is the Spirit who brings him to us.

This is the experience of so many people who pray: men and women whom the Holy Spirit has formed according to the “measure” of Christ, in mercy, in service, in prayer, in catechesis… It is a grace to be able to meet people like this: you realise that a different life pulses in them, the way they look “beyond”. We can think not only of monks and hermits; they are also found among ordinary people, people who have woven a long history of dialogue with God, sometimes of inner struggle, that purifies their faith. These humble witnesses have sought God in the Gospel, in the Eucharist received and adored, in the face of a brother or sister in difficulty, and they safeguard his presence like a secret flame.

The first task of Christians is precisely to keep alive this flame that Jesus brought to the earth (see Lk 12:49), and what is this flame? It is love, the Love of God, the Holy Spirit. Without the fire of the Spirit, His prophecies are extinguished, sorrow supplants joy, routine substitutes love, and service turns into slavery. The image of the lighted lamp next to the Tabernacle, where the Eucharist is reserved, comes to mind. Even when the church empties and evening falls, even when the church is closed, that lamp remains lit, and continues to burn; no one sees it, yet it burns before the Lord. This is how the Spirit is in our heart, always present like that lamp.

Again we read in the Catechism: “The Holy Spirit, whose anointing permeates our whole being, is the interior Master of Christian prayer. He is the artisan of the living tradition of prayer. To be sure, there are as many paths of prayer as there are persons who pray, but it is the same Spirit acting in all and with all. It is in the communion of the Holy Spirit that Christian prayer is prayer in the Church” (no. 2672). Very often it happens that we do not pray, we don’t feel like praying, or many times we pray like parrots, with the mouth, but our heart is not in it. This is the moment to say to the Spirit: “Come, come Holy Spirit, warm my heart. Come and teach me to pray, teach me to look to the Father, to look to the Son. Teach me the path of faith. Teach me how to love and, above all, teach me to have an attitude of hope”. It means calling on the Spirit continually, so he may be present in our lives.

It is therefore the Spirit who writes the history of the Church and of the world. We are open books, willing to receive his handwriting. And in each of us the Spirit composes original works, because there is never one Christian who is completely identical to another. In the infinite field of holiness, the one God, the Trinity of Love, allows the variety of witnesses to flourish: all are equal in dignity, but also unique in the beauty that the Spirit has willed to be released in each of those whom God's mercy has made his children. Let us not forget, the Spirit is present, he is present in us. Let us listen to the Spirit, let us call to the Spirit - he is the gift, the present that God has given us - and say to him: “Holy Spirit, I do not know your face - we do not know it - but I know that you are the strength, that you are the light, that you are able to make me go forth, and to teach me how to pray. Come, Holy Spirit”. This is a beautiful prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit”.





Pope Francis      24.03.21  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace      Catechesis on prayer - 27. To pray in communion with Mary       Acts 1: 12-14


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Pope Francis  To pray in communion with Mary  General Audience 24.03.21


Today the catechesis is dedicated to prayer in communion with Mary. It occurs precisely on the Vigil of the Solemnity of the Annunciation. We know that the main pathway of Christian prayer is the humanity of Jesus. In fact, the confidence typical of Christian prayer would be meaningless if the Word had not become incarnate, giving us in the Spirit His filial relationship with the Father. We heard in the Scripture of the gathering of the disciples, the pious women and Mary, praying after Jesus’s Ascension. The first Christian community was awaiting Jesus’s gift, Jesus’s promise.

Christ is the Mediator, Christ is the bridge that we cross to turn to the Father (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2674). He is the only Redeemer: there are no co-redeemers with Christ. He is the only one. He is the Mediator par excellence. He is the Mediator. Each prayer we raise to God is through Christ, with Christ and in Christ and it is fulfilled thanks to his intercession. The Holy Spirit extends Christ’s mediation through every time and every place: there is no other name by which we can be saved: Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and humanity (see Acts 4:12).

Due to Christ’s one mediation, other references that Christians find for their prayer and devotion take on meaning, first among them being the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

She occupies a privileged place in the lives of Christians, and therefore, in their prayer as well, because she is the Mother of Jesus. The Eastern Churches have often depicted her as the Odigitria, the one who “shows the way”; and the way is her Son, Jesus Christ. The beautiful, ancient painting of the Odigitria in the Cathedral of Bari comes to my mind. It is simple. The Madonna who shows Jesus, naked; then they put a shirt on him to cover his nakedness, but the truth is that Jesus is naked, he himself, man, born of Mary, is the Mediator. And she indicates the Mediator: she is the Odigitria. Her presence is everywhere in Christian iconography, sometimes very prominently, but always in relation to her Son and in connection with Him. Her hands, her eyes, her behavior are a living “catechism”, always indicating the hinge, she always points out the center: Jesus. Mary is completely directed toward Him (see CCC, 2674) to such an extent that we can say she is more disciple than Mother. The directions she gave at the wedding at Cana: Mary says "do whatever he will tell you”. She always refers to Christ. She is the first disciple.

This is the role Mary fulfilled throughout her entire earthly life and which she forever retains: to be the humble handmaid of the Lord, nothing more. At a certain point in the Gospels she almost seems to disappear; but then she reappears in the more crucial moments, such as at Cana, when her Son, thanks to her caring intervention, performs his first “sign” (see Jn 2:1-12), and then on Golgotha at the foot of the cross.

Jesus extended Mary’s maternity to the entire Church when He entrusted her to his beloved disciple shortly before dying on the cross. From that moment on, we have all been gathered under her mantle, as depicted in certain medieval frescoes or paintings. Even the first Latin antiphon – sub tuum praesidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genitrix: the Madonna who ‘covers’, like a Mother, to whom Jesus entrusted us, all of us; but as a Mother, not as a goddess, not as co-redeemer: as Mother. It is true that Christian piety has always given her beautiful titles, as a child gives his or her mamma: how many beautiful things children say about their mamma whom they love so much! How many beautiful things. But we need to be careful: the things the Church, the Saints, say about her, beautiful things, about Mary, subtract nothing from Christ’s sole Redemption. He is the only Redeemer. They are expressions of love like a child for his or her mamma – some are exaggerated. But love, as we know, always makes us exaggerate things, but out of love.

And so, we began to pray to her using several expressions present in the Gospels directed to her: “full of grace”, “blessed are you among women” (see CCC, 2676f.). Sanctioned by the Council of Ephesus, the title “Theotokos”, “Mother of God”, was soon added to the Hail Mary. And, analogously as with the Our Father, after the praise we add the supplication: we ask that Mary pray for us sinners, that she might intercede with her tenderness, “now and at the hour of our death”. Now, in the concrete situations of life, and in the final moment, so that she might accompany us – as Mother, as the first disciple – in our passage to eternal life.

Mary is always present at the bedside of her children when they depart this world. If someone is alone and abandoned, she is Mother, she is there, near, as she was next to her Son when everyone else abandoned him.

Mary was and is present in these days of the pandemic, near to the people who, unfortunately, have concluded their earthly journey all alone, without the comfort of or the closeness of their loved ones. Mary is always there next to us, with her maternal tenderness.

Prayers said to her are not in vain. The Woman who said “yes”, who promptly welcomed the Angel’s invitation, also responds to our supplications, she hears our voices, even those that remain closed in our hearts that haven’t the strength to be uttered but which God knows better that we ourselves do. She listens as Mother. Just like, and more than, every good mother, Mary defends us from danger, she is concerned about us even when we are concentrated on our own things and lose a sense of the way, and when we put not only our health in danger, but also our salvation. Mary is there, praying for us, praying for those who do not pray. To pray with us. Why? Because she is our Mother.





Pope Francis       07.04.21  General Audience  Library of the Apostolic Palace    Catechesis on prayer - 28. Praying in communion with the Saints      Hebrews 12: 1,2


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Pope Francis   General Audience  07.04.21


Today, I would like to reflect on the connection between prayer and the communion of saints. In fact, when we pray, we never do so alone: even if we do not think about it, we are immersed in a majestic river of invocations that precedes us and proceeds after us. A majestic river.

Contained in the prayers we find in the Bible, that often resound in the liturgy, are the traces of ancient stories, of prodigious liberations, of deportations and sad exiles, of emotional returns, of praise ringing out before the wonders of creation… And thus, these voices are passed on from generation to generation, in a continual intertwining between personal experience and that of the people and the humanity to which we belong. No one can separate themselves from their own history, the history of their own people. We always bear in our attitudes this inheritance, even in the way we pray. In the prayer of praise, especially that which unfolds from the hearts of the little ones and the humble, echo parts of the Magnificat that Mary lifted up to God in front of her relative Elizabeth; or of elderly Simeon’s exclamation who, taking the Baby Jesus in his arms, spoke thus: “Now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word” (Lk 2:29).

Those prayers that are good are “expansive”, like anything that is good; they propagate themselves continuously, with or without being posted on social networks: from hospital wards, from moments of festive gatherings to those in which we suffer silently… One person’s pain is everyone’s pain, and one person’s happiness is transmitted to someone else’s soul. Pain and happiness, all a story, stories that create the story of one’s own life, this story is relived through one’s own words, but the experience is the same.

Prayer is always born again: each time we join our hands and open our hearts to God, we find ourselves in the company of anonymous saints and recognized saints who pray with us and who intercede for us as older brothers and sisters who have preceded us on this same human adventure. There is no grief in the Church that is borne in solitude, there are no tears shed in oblivion, because everyone breaths and participates in one common grace. It is no coincidence that in the ancient church people were buried in gardens surrounding a sacred building, as if to say that, in some way, the hosts of those who have preceded us participate in every Eucharist. Our parents and grandparents are there, our godfathers and godmothers are there, our catechists and other teachers are there… The faith that is passed on, transmitted, that we have received. Along with faith, the way of praying and prayer have been transmitted.

The saints are still here not far from us; and their representations in churches evoke that “cloud of witnesses” that always surrounds us (see Heb 12:1). At the beginning, we heard the reading from the passage from the Letter to the Hebrews. They are witnesses that we do not adore – that is understood that we do not adore these saints – but whom we venerate and who in thousands of different ways bring us to Jesus Christ, the only Lord and Mediator between God and humanity. A “saint” that does not bring you to Jesus is not a saint, not even a Christian. A saint makes you remember Jesus Christ because he or she trod the path of living as a Christian. The saints remind us that even in our lives, however weak and marked by sin, holiness can unfold. Even at the last moment. In fact, we read in the Gospel that the first saint canonized by Jesus Himself was a thief, not a Pope. Holiness is a journey of life, a long or short or instantaneous encounter with Jesus. But he or she is always a witness, a saint is a witness, a man or woman who encountered Jesus and followed Jesus. It is never too late to be converted to the Lord who is good and great in love (see Ps 103:8).

The Catechism explains that the saints contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. […] Their intercession is their most exalted service to God’s plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world” (CCC, 2683). There is a mysterious solidarity in Christ between those who have already passed to the other life and we pilgrims in this one: from Heaven, our beloved deceased continue to take care of us. They pray for us, and we pray for them and we pray with them.

The connection in prayer between ourselves and those who have already arrived – we already experience this connection in prayer here in this earthly life. We pray for each other, we make requests and offer prayers…. The first way to pray for someone is to speak to God about him or her. If we do this frequently, each day, our hearts are not closed but open to our brothers and sisters. To pray for others is the first way to love them and it moves us toward concretely drawing near. Even in conflictual moments, a way of dissolving the conflict, of softening it, is to pray for the person with whom I am in conflict. And something changes with prayer. The first thing that changes is my heart and my attitude. The Lord changes it so it might be turned into an encounter, a new encounter so that that the conflict does not become a never-ending war.

The first way to face a time of anguish is by asking our brothers and sisters, the saints above all, to pray for us. The name given to us at Baptism is not a label or a decoration! It is usually the name of the Virgin, or a Saint, who expect nothing other than to “give us a hand” in life, to give us a hand to obtain the grace from God that we need. If the trials of life have not reached the breaking point, if we are still capable of persevering, if despite everything we proceed trustingly, more than due to our own merits, perhaps we owe all this to the intercession of all the saints, some who are in Heaven, others who are pilgrims like us on earth, who have protected and accompanied us, because all of us know there are holy people here on this earth, saintly men and women who live in holiness. They do not know it; neither do we know it. But there are saints, everyday saints, hidden saints, or as I like to say, “saints who live next door”, those who share their lives with us, who work with us and live a life of holiness.

Therefore, blessed be Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of the world, together with this immense flowering of saintly men and women who populate the earth and who have praised God through their own lives. For – as Saint Basil confirmed – “The Spirit is truly the dwelling of the saints since they offer themselves as a dwelling place for God and are called his temple” (On the Holy Spirit, 26, 62: PG 32, 184A; see CCC, 2684).





Pope Francis      14.04.21   General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace         Catechesis on prayer - 29. The Church, teacher of prayer


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Pope Francis - Prayer and the Church  14.04.21


The Church is a great school of prayer. Many of us learned how to whisper our first prayers on our parents’ or grandparents’ laps. We might, perhaps, cherish the memory of our mommy and daddy who taught us to say our prayers before going to bed. These moments of recollection are often those in which parents listen to some intimate secret and can give their advice inspired by the Gospel. Then, as they grow up, there are other encounters, with other witnesses and teachers of prayer (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2686-2687). This is good to remember.

The life of a parish and every Christian community is marked by liturgical moments and moments of community prayer. We become aware that the gift we received with simplicity in infancy is a great heritage, a rich inheritance and that the experience of prayer is worth deepening more and more (see ibid., 2688). The garment of faith is not starched, but develops with us; it is not rigid, it grows, even through moments of crisis and resurrection. Actually, there is no growth without moments of crisis because crises make you grow. Experiencing crisis is a necessary way to grow. And the breath of faith is prayer: we grow in faith inasmuch as we learn to pray. After certain passages in life, we become aware that without faith we could not have made it and that our strength was prayer – not only personal prayer, but also that of our brothers and sisters, and of the community that accompanied and supported us, of the people who know us, of the people we ask to pray for us.

For this reason, too, communities and groups dedicated to prayer flourish in the Church. Some Christians even feel the call to make prayer the primary action of their day. There are monasteries, convents, hermitages in the Church where persons consecrated to God live. They often become centres of spiritual light. They are centres of community prayer that radiate spirituality. They are small oases in which intense prayer is shared and fraternal communion is constructed day by day. They are cells that are vital not only for the ecclesial fabric, but that of society itself. Let us think, for example, of the role that monasticism played in the birth and growth of European civilization, and other cultures as well. Praying and working in community keeps the world going. It is a motor!

Everything in the Church originates in prayer and everything grows thanks to prayer. When the Enemy, the Evil One, wants to combat the Church, he does so first by trying to drain her fonts, hindering them from praying. For example, we see this in certain groups who agree about moving ecclesial reform forward, changes in the life of the Church and all the organizations, it is the media that informs everyone… But prayer is not evident, there is no prayer. We need to change this; we need to make this decision that is a bit tough… But the proposal is interesting. It is interesting! Only with discussion, only through the media. But where is prayer? And prayer is what opens the door to the Holy Spirit, who inspires progress. Changes in the Church without prayer are not changes made by the Church. They are changes made by groups. And when the Enemy – as I said – wants to combat the Church, he does it first of all by draining her fonts, inhibiting prayer and making these other proposals. If prayer ceases, for a little while it seems that everything can go ahead like always – by inertia, no? – but after a short time, the Church becomes aware that it has become like an empty shell, that it has lost its bearings, that it no longer possesses its source of warmth and love.

Holy women and men do not have easier lives than other people. Even they actually have their own problems to address, and, what is more, they are often the objects of opposition. But their strength is prayer. They always draw from the inexhaustible “well” of Mother Church. Through prayer they nourish the flame of their faith, as oil used to do for lamps. And thus, they move ahead walking in faith and hope. The saints, who often count for little in the eyes of the world, are in reality the ones who sustain it, not with the weapons of money and power, of the communications media – and so forth – but with the weapon of prayer.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus poses a dramatic question that always makes us reflect: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8), or will he find only organizations, like groups of entrepreneurs of the faith, everything organized well, who do charitable works, many things, or will he find faith? “When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” This question comes at the end of a parable that demonstrates the need to pray with perseverance without getting tired (see vv. 1-8). Therefore, we can conclude that the lamp of faith will always be lit on earth as long as there is the oil of prayer. It is this leads faith forward and leads our lives – weak, sinners – forward, but prayer leads it securely forward. The question that we Christians need to ask ourselves is: Do I pray? Do we pray? How do I pray? Like parrots or do I pray with my heart? How do I pray? Do I pray, certain that I am in the Church and that I pray with the Church? Or do I pray a bit according to my ideas and then make my ideas become prayer? This is a pagan prayer, not Christian. I repeat: We can conclude that the lamp of faith will always be lit on earth as long as there is the oil of prayer.

And this is the Church’s essential task: to pray and to teach how to pray. To transmit the lamp of faith and the oil of prayer from generation to generation. The lamp of faith that illuminates fixes things as they truly are, but it can only go forward with the oil of faith. Otherwise, it is extinguished. Without the light of this lamp, we would not be able to see the path of evangelization, or rather, we would not be able to see the path in order to believe well; we would not be able to see the faces of our brothers and sisters to draw near and serve; we would not be able to illuminate the room where we meet in community. Without faith everything collapses; and without prayer faith is extinguished. Faith and prayer together. There is no other alternative. For this reason, the Church, as the house and school of communion, is the house and school of faith and prayer.





Pope Francis     21.04.21 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace      Catechesis on prayer - 30. The vocal prayer         Psalm 130: 1-5


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Pope Francis General Audience 21.04.21


Prayer is dialogue with God; and every creature, in a certain sense, “dialogues" with God. Within the human being, prayer becomes word, invocation, hymn, poetry… The divine Word is made flesh, and in each person’s flesh the word returns to God in prayer.

We create words, but they are also our mothers, and to some extent they shape us. The words of a prayer get us safely through a dark valley, direct us towards green meadows rich in water, and enable us to feast in front of the eyes of an enemy, as the Psalm teaches us (cf. Ps 23). Words are born from feelings, but there is also the reverse path, whereby words shape feelings. The Bible educates people to ensure that everything comes to light through the word, that nothing human is excluded, censored. Above all, pain is dangerous if it stays hidden, closed up within us... Pain closed up within us, that cannot express or give vent to itself, can poison the soul. It is deadly.

This is why Sacred Scripture teaches us to pray, sometimes even with bold words. The sacred writers do not want to deceive us about the human person: they know that our hearts harbour also unedifying feelings, even hatred. None of us are born holy, and when these negative feelings come knocking at the door of our hearts, we must be capable of defusing them with prayer and God's words. We also find very harsh expressions against enemies in the Psalms - expressions that the spiritual masters teach us are to be directed to the devil and to our sins - yet they are words that belong to human reality and ended up in the riverbed of the Sacred Scriptures. They are there to testify to us that if, in the face of violence, no words existed to make negative feelings harmless, to channel them in such a way that they do no harm, then the world would be overwhelmed.

The first human prayer is always a vocal recitation. The lips always move first. Although we are all aware that praying does not mean repeating words, vocal prayer is nevertheless the surest, and can always be practised. Feelings, on the other hand, however noble, are always uncertain: they come and go, they leave us and return. Not only that, but the graces of prayer are also unpredictable: at times consolations abound, but on the darkest days they seem to evaporate completely. The prayer of the heart is mysterious, and at certain times it is lacking. Instead, the prayer of the lips that which is whispered or recited chorally is always accessible, and is as necessary as manual labour. The Catechism teaches us about this, and states that: “Vocal prayer is an essential element of the Christian life. To his disciples, drawn by their Master's silent prayer, Jesus teaches a vocal prayer, the Our Father” (n. 2701). “Teach us how to pray”, the disciples asked Jesus, and Jesus taught them a vocal prayer: the Lord’s Prayer. And everything is there, in that prayer…

We should all have the humility of certain elderly people who, in church, perhaps because their hearing is no longer acute, recite quietly the prayers they learned as children, filling the nave with whispers. That prayer does not disturb the silence, but testifies to their fidelity to the duty of prayer, practised throughout their lives without fail. These practitioners of humble prayer are often the great intercessors in parishes: they are the oaks that from year to year spread their branches to offer shade to the greatest number of people. Only God knows when and how much their hearts have been united to those prayers they recited: surely these people too had to face nights and empty moments. But one can always remain faithful to vocal prayer. It is like an anchor: one can hold on to the rope and remain, faithful, come what may.

We all have something to learn from the perseverance of the Russian pilgrim, mentioned in a famous work on spirituality, who learned the art of prayer by repeating the same invocation over and over again: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Lord, have mercy on us, sinners!” (cf. CCC, 2616; 2667). He repeated only this: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Lord, have mercy on us, sinners!”. If graces arrive in our life, if prayer becomes so warm one day that the presence of the Kingdom were perceived here among us, if that vision could be transformed until it became like that of a child, it would be because we have insisted on reciting a simple Christian exclamation. In the end, it becomes part of our breathing. It is beautiful, the story of the Russian pilgrim: it is a book that is accessible to all. I recommend you read it; it will help you to understand what vocal prayer is.

Therefore, we must not disregard vocal prayer. One might say, “Ah, this is for children, for ignorant folk; I am seeking mental prayer, meditation, the inner void so that God might come to me…” Please! Do not succumb to the pride of scorning vocal prayer. It is the prayer of the simple, the prayer that Jesus taught: Our Father, who is in heaven… The words we speak take us by the hand; at times they restore flavour, they awaken even the sleepiest of hearts; they reawaken feelings we had forgotten. And they lead us by the hand towards the experience of God, these words… And above all, they are the only ones that, in a sure way, direct to God the questions he wants to hear. Jesus did not leave us in a fog. He told us: “Pray then like this”. And he taught the Lord's Prayer (cf. Mt 6:9).





Pope Francis     28.04.21  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace     Catechesis on prayer: 31. The meditation       John 14: 25,26 16: 12,13

Pope Francis - Meditation - General Audience 28.04.21

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today we will talk about the form of prayer called meditation. For a Christian, to “meditate” is to seek meaning: it implies placing oneself before the immense page of Revelation to try to make it our own, assuming it completely. And the Christian, after having welcomed the Word of God, does not keep it closed up within him or herself, because that Word must be met with “another book”, which the Catechism calls “the book of life” (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2706). This is what we try to do every time we meditate on the Word.

The practice of meditation has received a great deal of attention in recent years. It is not only Christians who talk about it: the practice of meditation exists in almost all the world’s religions. But it is also a widespread activity among people who do not have a religious view of life. We all need to meditate, to reflect, to discover ourselves, it is a human dynamic. Especially in the voracious western world, people seek meditation because it represents a high barrier against the daily stress and emptiness that is everywhere. Here, then, is the image of young people and adults sitting in meditation, in silence, with eyes half-closed... But what do these people do, we might ask? They meditate. It is a phenomenon to be looked on favourably: in fact, we are not made to run all the time, we have an inner life that cannot always be neglected. Meditating is therefore a need for everyone. Meditating, so to say, is like stopping and taking a breath in life. To stop and be still.

But we realise that this word, once accepted in a Christian context, takes on a uniqueness that must not be eradicated. Meditating is a necessary human dimension, but meditating in the Christian context - we Christians - goes further: it is a dimension that must not be eradicated. The great door through which the prayer of a baptised person passes - let us remind ourselves once again - is Jesus Christ. For the Christian, meditation enters through the door of Jesus Christ. The practice of meditation also follows this path. And the Christian, when he or she prays, does not aspire to full self-transparency, does not seek the deepest centre of the ego. This is legitimate, but the Christian seeks something else. The prayer of the Christian is first of all an encounter with the Other, with a capital “O”: the transcendent encounter with God. If an experience of prayer gives us inner peace, or self-mastery, or clarity about the path to take, these results are, one might say, consequences of the grace of Christian prayer, which is the encounter with Jesus. That is, meditating means going - guided by a phrase from the Scripture, from a word - to the encounter with Jesus within us.

Throughout history, the term “meditation” has had various meanings. Even within Christianity it refers to different spiritual experiences. Nevertheless, some common lines can be traced, and in this we are helped again by the Catechism, which says, the Catechism says: “There are as many and varied methods of meditation as there are spiritual masters. [...] But a method is only a guide; the important thing is to advance, with the Holy Spirit, along the one way of prayer: Christ Jesus” (n. 2707). And here it indicates a travelling companion, one who guides: the Holy Spirit. Christian meditation is not possible without the Holy Spirit. It is he who guides us to the encounter with Jesus. Jesus said to us, “I will send you the Holy Spirit. He will teach you and will explain to you. He will teach you and explain to you”. And in meditation too, he is the guide for going forward in our encounter with Jesus Christ.

Thus, there are many methods of Christian meditation: some are very simple, others more detailed; some accentuate the intellectual dimension of the person, others the affective and emotional dimension instead. They are methods. All of them are important and all of them are worthy of practice, inasmuch as they can help. What do they help? The experience of faith to become an integral act of the person: a person does not pray only with the mind; the entire person prays, the person in his or her entirety, just as one does not pray only with one’s feelings. No, everything. The ancients used to say that the part of the body that prays is the heart, and thus they explained that the whole person, starting from the centre - the heart - enters into a relationship with God, not just a few faculties. This is how the ancients explained it. This is why it must always be remembered that the method is a path, not a goal: any method of prayer, if it is to be Christian, is part of that sequela Christi that is the essence of our faith. The methods of meditation are paths to travel to arrive at the encounter with Jesus, but if you stop on the road, and just look at the path, you will never find Jesus. You will make a “god” out of the path. The “god” is not waiting for you there, it is Jesus who awaits you. And the path is there to take you to Jesus. The Catechism specifies: "Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion and desire. This mobilisation of the faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ” (n. 2708).

Here, then, the grace of Christian prayer is: Christ is not far away, but is always in a relationship with us. There is no aspect of his divine-human person that cannot become a place of salvation and happiness for us. Every moment of Jesus' earthly life, through the grace of prayer, can become immediate to us, thanks to the Holy Spirit, the guide. But, you know, one cannot pray without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is he who guides us! And thanks to the Holy Spirit, we too are present at the river Jordan when Jesus immerses himself to receive baptism. We too are guests at the wedding at Cana, when Jesus gives the best wine for the happiness of the couple, that is, it is the Holy Spirit who connects us with these mysteries of the life of Christ because in contemplation of Jesus we experience prayer, to join us more closely to him. We too are astonished onlookers at the thousands of healings performed by the Master. We take the Gospel, and meditate on those mysteries in the Gospel, and the Spirit guides us to being present there. And in prayer - when we pray - we are all like the cleansed leper, the blind Bartimaeus who regains his sight, Lazarus who comes out of the tomb… We too are healed by prayer just as the blind Bartimaeus, the other one, the leper… We too rise again, as Lazarus rose again, because prayer of meditation guided by the Holy Spirit leads us to relive these mysteries of the life of Christ and to encounter Christ, and to say, with the blind man, “Lord, have pity on me! Have pity on me!” - “And what do you want?” - “To see, to enter into that dialogue”. And Christian meditation, led by the Spirit, leads us to this dialogue with Jesus. There is no page of the Gospel in which there is no place for us. For us Christians, meditating is a way of coming into contact with Jesus. And in this way, only in this way, we discover ourselves. And this is not a withdrawal into ourselves, no, no: it means going to Jesus, and from Jesus, discovering ourselves, healed, risen, strong by the grace of Jesus. And encountering Jesus, the Saviour of all, myself included. And this, thanks to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Thank you.





Pope Francis              01.05.21 Prayer of the Rosary to invoke an end to the pandemic, St Peter's Basilica - Gregorian Chapel

Pope Francis Rosary Prayer 01.05.21

We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God. 

In the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety, we fly to you, Mother of God and our Mother, and seek refuge under your protection.

Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes towards us amid this coronavirus pandemic. Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply. Be close to those who are concerned for their loved ones who are sick and who, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, cannot be close to them. Fill with hope those who are troubled by the uncertainty of the future and the consequences for the economy and employment. 

Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us to God, the Father of mercies, that this great suffering may end and that hope and peace may dawn anew. Plead with your divine Son, as you did at Cana, so that the families of the sick and the victims be comforted, and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust. 

Protect those doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers who are on the frontline of this emergency, and are risking their lives to save others. Support their heroic effort and grant them strength, generosity, and continued health. 

Mary, Consolation of the afflicted, embrace all your children in distress and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand and free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its normal course.

To you, who shine on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope, do we entrust ourselves, O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.






Pope Francis     05.05.21  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace     Catechesis on prayer: 32. Contemplative Prayer            Psalm 8: 2,4-6,10

https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/contemplative-prayer/05.05.21%201%2076%20365%20285.jpg

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

We continue the catechesis on prayer and in this catechesis, I would like to reflect on contemplative prayer.

The contemplative dimension of the human being – which is not yet contemplative prayer – is a bit like the “salt” of life: it gives flavour, it seasons our day. We can contemplate by gazing at the sun that rises in the morning, or at the trees that deck themselves out in spring green; we can contemplate by listening to music or to the sounds of the birds, reading a book, gazing at a work of art or at that masterpiece that is the human face… Carlo Maria Martini, when he was sent to be the Bishop of Milan, entitled his first Pastoral Letter The contemplative dimension of life: the truth is that those who live in a large city, where everything – we can say – is artificial and where everything is functional, risk losing the capacity to contemplate. To contemplate is not primarily a way of doing, but a way of being. To be contemplative.

And being contemplatives does not depend on the eyes, but on the heart. And here prayer enters into play as an act of faith and love, as the “breath” of our relationship with God. Prayer purifies the heart and, with it, also sharpens our gaze, allowing it to grasp reality from another point of view. The Catechism describes this transformation of the heart that prayer effects, citing a famous testimony of the Holy Curé of Ars who said this: “Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. ‘I look at him and he looks at me’: this is what a certain peasant of Ars used to say to the holy curé while praying before the tabernacle. […] The light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of his truth and his compassion for all men” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2715). Everything comes from this: from a heart that feels that it is looked on with love. Then reality is contemplated with different eyes.

“I look at Him and He looks at me!” It is like this: loving contemplation, typical of the most intimate prayer, does not need many words. A gaze is enough. It is enough to be convinced that our life is surrounded by an immense and faithful love that nothing can ever separate us from.

Jesus was a master of this gaze. His life never lacked the time, space, silence, the loving communion that allows one’s existence not to be devastated by the inevitable trials, but to maintain beauty intact. His secret is his relationship with his heavenly Father.

Let’s think, for example, about the Transfiguration. The Gospels place this episode at the critical point of Jesus’s mission when opposition and rejection were mounting all around Him. Even among his disciples, many did not understand him and left him; one of the Twelve harboured traitorous thoughts. Jesus began to speak openly of his suffering and death that awaited him in Jerusalem. It is in this context that Jesus climbs up a high mountain with Peter, James and John. The Gospel of Mark says: “He was transfigured before them, and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them” (9:2-3). Right at the moment in which Jesus is not understood – they were going away him, they were leaving him alone because they did not understand – in this moment that he is misunderstood, just when everything seems to become blurred in a whirlwind of misunderstanding, that is where a divine light shines. It is the light of the Father’s love that fills the Son’s heart and transfigures his entire Person.

Some spiritual masters of the past understood contemplation as opposed to action, and exalted those vocations that flee from the world and its problems to dedicate oneself entirely to prayer. In reality, Jesus Christ, in his person and the Gospel, there is no opposition between contemplation and action. No. In the Gospel and in Jesus there is no contradiction. This may have come from the influence of some Neoplatonic philosophy that creates this opposition, but it surely contains a dualism that is not part of the Christian message.

There is only one great call, one great call in the Gospel, and it is that of following Jesus on the way of love. This is the summit and it is the centre of everything. In this sense, charity and contemplation are synonymous, they say the same thing. Saint John of the Cross believed that a small act of pure love is more useful to the Church than all the other works combined. What is born of prayer and not from the presumption of our ego, what is purified by humility, even if it is a hidden and silent act of love, is the greatest miracle that a Christian can perform. And this is the path of contemplative prayer: I look at Him and He looks at me. It is that act of love in silent dialogue with Jesus that does so much good for the Church. Thank you.




Pope Francis    12.05.21  General Audience, San Damaso courtyard     Catechesis on prayer: 33. The Struggle of Prayer         Psalm 10: 1, 12-14

Pope Francis - The struggle of prayer - 12.05.21

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

I am happy to resume this face-to-face meeting, because I will tell you something: it is not nice to speak in front of nothing, to a camera. It is not nice. And now, after many months, thanks to the courage of Msgr. Sapienza, who said, “No, we’ll do it there”, we are gathered here again. Msgr. Sapienza is good! And finding people, finding you here, each one of you with your own story, people who come from all over, from Italy, from the United States, from Colombia… That little football team of four Swiss brothers, I think… who are over there… four. The little sister is missing, I hope she arrives… And seeing each one of you pleases me as we are all brothers and sisters in the Lord, and looking at each other helps us to pray for each other. Also people who are far away but always make themselves close to us. The ever-present Sister Geneviève who comes from Lunapark, people who work... So many. They are all here. Thank you for your presence and your visit. Take the Pope's message to everyone. The Pope's message is that I pray for everyone, and I ask you to pray for me, united in prayer.

And speaking of prayer, Christian prayer, like all Christian life, is not a “walk in the park”. None of the great people of prayer we meet in the Bible and in the history of the Church found prayer “comfortable”. Yes, one can pray like a parrot – blah, blah, blah, blah, blah – but that is not prayer. Prayer certainly gives great peace, but through inner struggle, at times hard, which can accompany even long periods of life. Praying is not something easy, and this is why we flee from it. Every time we want to pray, we are immediately reminded of many other activities, which at that moment seem more important and more urgent. This happens to me too! It happens to me. I go to pray a little… and no, I must do this and that… We flee from prayer, I don’t know why, but that is how it is. Almost always, after putting off prayer, we realise that those things were not essential at all, and that we may have wasted time. This is how the Enemy deceives us.

All Godly men and women report not only the joy of prayer, but also the tediousness and fatigue it can bring: at times it is a difficult struggle to keep to the time and ways of praying. Some saints continued it for years without finding any satisfaction in it, without perceiving its usefulness. Silence, prayer and concentration are difficult exercises, and sometimes human nature rebels. We would rather be anywhere else in the world, but not there, in that church pew, praying. Those who want to pray must remember that faith is not easy, and sometimes it moves forward in almost total darkness, without points of reference. There are moments in the life of faith that are dark, and therefore some saints call this “the dark night”, because we hear nothing. But I continue to pray.

The Catechism lists a long series of enemies of prayer, those that make it difficult to pray, that put us in difficulty (cf. nos. 2726-2728). Some doubt that prayer can truly reach the Almighty: why does God remain silent? If God is Almighty, He could say a couple of words and end the matter. Faced with the elusiveness of the divine, others suspect that prayer is a merely psychological operation; something that may be useful, but is neither true nor necessary: and one could even be a practitioner without being a believer. And so it goes on, many explanations.

However, the worst enemies of prayer are found within us. The Catechism describes them thus: “Discouragement during periods of dryness; sadness that, because we have ‘great possessions’, we have not given all to the Lord; disappointment over not being heard according to our own will; wounded pride, stiffened by the indignity that is ours as sinners; our resistance to the idea that prayer is a free and unmerited gift” (2728). This is clearly a summary that could be extended.

What should be done in time of temptation, when everything seems to waver? If we look at the history of spirituality, it is immediately seen that the masters of the soul were very clear about the situation we have described. To overcome it, each of them offered some type of contribution: a word of wisdom, or a suggestion for dealing moments fraught with difficulty. It is not a question of elaborate theories, of preconceived theories, no, but of advice born of experience, which shows the importance of resisting and persevering in prayer.

It would be interesting to review at least some of these pieces of advice, because each one deserves to be explored further. For example, the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola is a short book of great wisdom that teaches how to put one’s life in order. It makes us understand that the Christian vocation is militancy, it is the decision to stand beneath the standard of Jesus Christ and not under that of the devil, trying to do good even when it becomes difficult.

In times of trial, it is good to remember that we are not alone, that someone is watching over us and protecting us. Saint Anthony the Abbot, the founder of Christian monasticism, also faced terrible times in Egypt, when prayer became a difficult struggle. His biographer, Saint Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, recounts one of the worst episodes in the life of the hermit saint when he was about the age of thirty-five, a time of middle age that for many people involves a crisis. Anthony was disturbed by the ordeal, but resisted. When he finally became serene again, he turned to his Lord with an almost reproachful tone: “But Lord, where were you? Why did you not come immediately to put an end to my suffering?” And Jesus answered: “Anthony, I was there. But I was waiting to see you fight” (Life of Anthony, 10). Fighting in prayer. And very often, prayer is combat. I am reminded of something I experienced close up, when I was in the other diocese. There was a married couple with a daughter aged nine, with an illness that the doctors were unable to diagnose. And in the end, in hospital, the doctor said to the mother, “Madam, call your husband”. And the husband was at work; they were labourers, they worked every day. And he said to the father, “The child will not survive the night. There is nothing we can do to stop this infection”. Perhaps that man did not attend Mass every Sunday, but he had great faith. He left, weeping; he left his wife there with the child in the hospital, he took the train and he travelled seventy kilometres towards the Basilica of Our Lady of Luján, Patroness of Argentina. And there – the Basilica was already closed, it was almost ten o’clock at night, in the evening – he clung to the grates of the Basilica and spent all night praying to Our Lady, fighting for his daughter’s health. This is not a figment of the imagination: I saw him! I saw him myself. That man there, fighting. At the end, at six o’clock in the morning, the Church opened, he entered to salute Our Lady, and returned home. And he thought: “She has left us. No, Our Lady cannot do this to me”. Then he went to see [his wife], and she was smiling, saying: “I don’t know what happened. The doctors said that something changed, and now she is cured”. That man, fighting with prayer, received the grace of Our Lady. Our Lady listened to him. And I saw this: prayer works miracles, because prayer goes directly to the heart of the tenderness of God, who cares for us like a father. And when He does not grant us a grace, He will grant us another which in time we will see. But always, combat in prayer to ask for grace. Yes, at times we ask for grace we are not in need of, but we ask for it without truly wanting it, without fighting… We do not ask for serious things in this way. Prayer is combat, and the Lord is always with us.

If in a moment of blindness we cannot see His presence, we will in the future. We will also end up repeating the same sentence that the patriarch Jacob said one day: “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I did not know it” (Gen 28:16). At the end of our lives, looking back, we too will be able to say: “I thought I was alone, but no, I was not: Jesus was with me”. We will all be able to say this. Thank you.





Pope Francis     19.05.21  General Audience, San Damaso courtyard     Catechesis on prayer: 34. Distractions, time of barrenness, sloth       Luke 21: 34-36

Prayer


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Continuing in the line of the Catechism, in this catechesis we refer to the lived experience of prayer, trying to show some very common difficulties, which must be identified and overcome. Praying is not easy: many difficulties present themselves in prayer. It is necessary to know them, recognise them and overcome them.

The first problem that emerges to those who pray is distraction (see CCC, 2729). You start to pray and then your mind wanders, it wanders all over the place; your heart is here, your mind is there… distraction from prayer. Prayer often co-exists with distraction. Indeed, the human mind finds it hard to dwell for long on a single thought. We all experience this constant whirlwind of images and illusions in perpetual motion, which accompanies us even during sleep. And we all know that it is not good to follow this inclination to disorder.

The battle to achieve and maintain concentration does not relate only to prayer. If one does not attain a sufficient level of concentration one cannot study profitably, nor can one work well. Athletes are aware that contests are not won solely through physical training, but also with mental discipline: above all, with the capacity to concentrate and to remain focused.

Distractions are not guilty, but they must be fought. In the heritage of our faith there is a virtue that is often forgotten, but which is so present in the Gospel. It is called “vigilance”. And Jesus said, “Keep vigil. Pray”. The Catechism mentions it explicitly in its instruction on prayer (cf. no. 2730). Jesus often calls the disciples to the duty of a sober life, guided by the thought that sooner or later He will return, like a bridegroom from a wedding or a master from a journey. But since we do not know the day and hour of His return, all the minutes of our lives are precious and should not be wasted on distractions. In a moment that we do not know, the voice of our Lord will resound: on that day, blessed will be those servants whom He will find industrious, still focused on what really matters. They did not stray in pursuit of every attraction that came before their minds, but tried to walk the right path, doing good and performing their own task. This is distraction: the imagination wanders, it wanders and wanders… Saint Teresa used to call this imagination that wanders in prayer “the madwoman in the house”; it is like a madwoman that leads you here and there … We must stop it and cage it, with attention.

The time of barrenness warrants a different discourse. The Catechism describes it in this way: “The heart is separated from God, when there is dryness, with no taste for thoughts, memories and feelings, even spiritual ones. This is the moment of sheer faith clinging faithfully to Jesus in his agony and in his tomb” (no. 2731). Barrenness makes us think of Good Friday, at night, and Holy Saturday, all the day: Jesus is not there, He is in the tomb; Jesus is dead, we are alone. And this is the thought that gives rise to barrenness. Often we do not know what the reasons for barrenness are: it may depend on ourselves, but also on God, who permits certain situations in the outer or inner life. Or, at times, it can be a headache or a problem of the liver that stops us from entering into prayer. Often we do not really know the reason. Spiritual teachers describe the experience of faith as a continuous alternation of times of consolation and desolation; there are times when everything is easy, while others are marked by great heaviness. Very often, when we encounter a friend, we say, “How are you?” – “Today I am down”. Very often we are “down”, or rather, we don’t have feelings, we don’t have consolation, we are unable. They are those grey days … and there are so many of them in life! But the danger is having a grey heart: when this “feeling down” reaches the heart and it sickens… and there are people who live with a grey heart. This is terrible: one cannot pray, one cannot feel consolation with a grey heart! Or, one cannot emerge from spiritual barrenness with a grey heart. The heart must be open and luminous, so that the light of the Lord can enter. And if it does not enter, wait for it, with hope. But do not close it up in greyness.

Then, a different thing is sloth, another flaw, another vice, which is a real temptation against prayer and, more generally, against the Christian life, is a different matter. Sloth is “a form of depression due to lax ascetically practice, decreasing vigilance, carelessness of heart” , 2733). It is one of the seven “deadly sins” because, fuelled by conceit, it can lead to the death of the soul.

So what can we do in this succession of enthusiasms and discouragements? One must learn to go forward always. True progress in the spiritual life does not consist in multiplying ecstasies, but in being able to persevere in difficult times: walk, walk, walk on… and if you are tired, stop a little and then start walking again. But with perseverance. Let us remember Saint Francis’ parable on perfect joy: it is not in the infinite fortunes rained down from Heaven that the ability of a friar is measured, but in walking steadily, even when one is not recognised, even when one is mistreated, even when everything has lost its initial flavour. All the saints have passed through this “dark valley”, and let us not be scandalised if, reading their diaries, we find accounts of evenings of listless prayer, lived without enthusiasm. We must learn to say: “Even though You, my God, seem to be doing everything to make me stop believing in You, I still continue to pray to You”. Believers never stop praying! It may sometimes resemble the prayer of Job, who does not accept that God treats him unjustly, protests and calls him to judgment. But, very often, even protesting before God is a way of praying or, as that little old lady said, “being angry with God is a way to pray too”, because many times a son is angry with his father: it is a way of relating to the father; since he recognises him as “father”, he gets angry…

And we too, who are far less holy and patient than Job, know that in the end, at the end of this time of desolation, during which we have raised to Heaven silent cries and asked “why?” many times, God will answer us. Do not forget the prayer that asks “why?”. It is the prayer of children when they begin not to understand things, which psychologists call “the why stage”, because the child asks his father, “Daddy, why? Daddy, why? Daddy, why?” But be careful: he does not listen to his father’s answer. The father starts to reply, but he interrupts with another “Why?”. He simply wants to draw his father’s attention to him; and when we get a bit angry with God and start asking why, we are attracting the heart of our Father towards our misery, towards our difficulties, towards our life. But yes, have the courage to say to God: “But why?”. Because at times, getting a bit angry is good for you, because it reawakens that son-father, daughter-father relationship we must have with God. And He will accept even our harshest and bitterest expressions with a father’s love, and will consider them as an act of faith, as a prayer. Thank you.





Pope Francis     26.05.21  General Audience, San Damaso courtyard       Catechesis on prayer: 35. The certainty of being heard         Mark 5: 21-36

Pope Francis - Unheard Prayers - General Audience 26.05.21


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

There is a radical objection to prayer, which derives from an observation that we all make: we pray, we ask, and yet sometimes our prayers seem to go unheard: what we have asked for - for ourselves or for others - is not fulfilled. We have this experience, very often… If the reason for which we prayed was noble, such as intercession for the health of a sick person, or for the end of a war, for instance, the non-fulfilment seems scandalous. For example, for wars: we are praying for wars to end, these wars in so many parts of the world. Think of Yemen, think of Syria, countries that have been at war for years, for years, ravaged by wars, and we pray, but they do not come to an end. But how can this be? “Some even stop praying because they think their petition is not heard” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2734). But if God is Father, why does He not listen to us? He who has assured us that He gives good things to the children who ask Him for them (cf. Mt 7: 10), why does He not respond to our requests? We all have experience of this: we have prayed, prayed, for the illness of a friend, of a father, of a mother, and then they are gone. But God did not grant our request! It is an experience we have all had.

The Catechism offers us a good summary of the matter. It puts us on guard against the risk of not living an authentic experience of faith, but of transforming the relationship with God into something magical. Prayer is not a magic wand: it is a dialogue with the Lord. Indeed, when we pray we can give in to the risk of not being the ones to serve God, but of expecting Him to serve us (cf. 2735). This is, then, a prayer that is always demanding, that wants to direct events according to our own design, that admits no plans other than our own desires. Jesus, on the other hand, had great wisdom in teaching us the Lord’s Prayer. It is a prayer of questions only, as we know, but the first ones we utter are all on God's side. They ask for the fulfilment not of our plan, but of His will for the world. Better to leave it to Him: "Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done" (Mt 6:9-10).

And the Apostle Paul reminds us that we do not even know what it is appropriate to ask for (cf. Rm 8: 26). We ask for necessities, our needs, things that we want: “But is this better for us or not?” Paul tells us, we do not even know what it is right to ask. When we pray, we need to be humble: this is the first attitude for going to pray. Just like the attitude in many places for going to pray in church: women who wear a veil or take holy water to begin to pray, in this way we must tell ourselves, before praying, that it is the right way; that God will give me what it is right to give. He knows. When we pray we must be humble, so that our words are actually prayers and not just idle talk that God rejects. We can also pray for the wrong reasons: such as, to defeat the enemy in war, without asking ourselves what God thinks of such a war. It is easy to write “God is with us” on a banner; many are keen to ensure that God is with them, but few bother to check whether they are actually with God. In prayer, it is God Who must convert us, not we who must convert God. It is humility. I go to pray but You, Lord, convert my heart so that to ask for what is right, for what will be best for my spiritual health.

However, the scandal remains: when people pray with a sincere heart, when they ask for things that correspond to the Kingdom of God, when a mother prays for her sick child, why does it sometimes seem that God does not listen to them? To answer this question, we need to meditate calmly on the Gospels. The accounts of Jesus’ life are full of prayers: many people wounded in body and in spirit ask Him to be healed; there are those who pray for a friend who can no longer walk; there are fathers and mothers who bring sick sons and daughters… They are all prayers imbued with suffering. It is an immense choir that invokes: “Have mercy on us!”

We see that at times Jesus’ response is immediate, whereas in some other cases it is delayed: it seems that God does not answer. Think of the Canaanite woman who begs Jesus for her daughter: this woman has to insist for a long time to be heard (cf. Mt 15: 21-28). She even has the humility to hear a word from Jesus that seems a little offensive towards her: we must not throw bread to the dogs, to mere dogs. But this humiliation does not matter to the woman: her daughter’s health is what matters. And she goes on: “Yes, but even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters”, and Jesus likes this. Courage in prayer. Or think of the paralytic brought by his four friends: Jesus initially forgives his sins and only later heals his body (cf. Mk 2:1-12). On some occasions, therefore, the solution to the problem is not immediate. In our life too, each one of us has this experience. Let us look back a little: how many times have we asked for a grace, a miracle, let’s say, and nothing has happened. Then, over time, things have worked out but in God’s way, the divine way, not according to what we wanted in that moment. God’s time is not our time.

From this point of view, the healing of Jairus’ daughter is worthy of particular attention (cf. Mk 5: 21-33). There is a father who is in a hurry: his daughter is ill and for this reason he asks for Jesus' help. The Master immediately accepts, but on their way home another healing occurs, and then the news comes that the girl has died. It seems to be the end, but instead Jesus says to the father: “Do not fear, only believe” (Mk 5:36). “Continue to have faith”: because it is faith that sustains prayer. And indeed, Jesus will awaken that child from the sleep of death. But for a time, Jairus had to walk in the dark, with only the flame of faith. Lord, give me faith! May my faith grow! Ask for this grace, to have faith. Jesus, in the Gospel, says that faith moves mountains. But, having real faith. Jesus, before the faith of His poor, of His people, is won over; He feels special tenderness, before that faith. And He listens.

The prayer that Jesus addresses to the Father in Gethsemane also seems to go unheard. “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me”. It seems that the Father does not listen to Him. The Son must drink fully from the chalice of the passion. But Holy Saturday is not the final chapter, because on the third day, Sunday, is the Resurrection. Evil is lord of the penultimate day: remember this well. Evil is never the lord of the last day, no: the penultimate, the moment when the night is darkest, just before the dawn. Then, on the penultimate day, there is temptation, when the devil makes us think he has won: “Have you seen? I have won!”. The evil one is the lord of the penultimate day: on the last is the Resurrection. But the evil one is never lord of the last day: God is the Lord of the last day. Because that belongs to God alone, and it is the day when all human longings for salvation will be fulfilled. Let us learn this humble patience, to await the Lord’s grace, to await the final day. Very often, the penultimate is very hard, because human sufferings are hard. But the Lord is there. And on the last day, He solves everything. Thank you.






Pope Francis                   31.05.21  presides over the recitation of the Holy Rosary, Grotto of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens


Pope Francis Holy Rosary Vatican Gardens 31.05.21

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Pope Francis    02.06.21  General Audience, San Damaso courtyard         Catechesis on prayer: 36. Jesus, model and soul of all prayer        Luke 22: 28-29, 31-32

Pope Francis Jesus model and soul of prayer General Audience 02.06.21


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

The Gospels show us how prayer was fundamental in the relationship between Jesus and His disciples. This already appears in the choice of who would then become the Apostles. Luke places their election in a precise context of prayer, and he says: “In these days He went out to the mountain to pray; and all night He continued in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom He named apostles” (6:12-13). Jesus chooses the apostles after a night of prayer. It seems that there is no criterion in this choice other than prayer, the dialogue of Jesus with the Father. Judging from how those men were to behave, it would seem that the choice was not the best, as they all fled, they left Him alone before the Passion; but it is precisely this, especially the presence of Judas, the future betrayer, that demonstrates that those names were inscribed in God’s plan.

Prayer on behalf of His friends continually reappears in the life of Jesus. The Apostles sometimes become a cause of concern for Him, but Jesus, as He received them from the Father, after prayer, thus He carries them in His heart, even in their errors, even when they fall. In all this we discover how Jesus was both teacher and friend, always willing to wait patiently for the conversion of the disciple. The highest point of this patient waiting is the “web” of love that Jesus weaves around Peter. At the Last Supper he says to him: “Simon, Simon, behold” - the word we heard at the beginning of the audience - “Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail, and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren”. (Lk 22:31-32). It is impressive to know that at that moment, during the time of weakness, Jesus’ love does not cease. “But father, if I am in mortal sin, does Jesus love me?” - “Yes” - “And does Jesus continue to pray for me?” - “Yes” - “But if I have done the worst things, and more, committed so many sins … does Jesus continue to pray?” - “Yes”. Jesus’ love, Jesus’ prayer for each one of us does not cease, it does not cease, but rather becomes more intense, and we are at the centre of his prayer! We must always keep this in mind: Jesus prays for me, He is praying now before the Father and makes Him see the wounds He carried with Him, to show the Father the price of our salvation, it is the love that He holds for us. But in this moment, each one of us, let us think: in this moment, is Jesus praying for me? Yes. This is a great certainty that we must have.

Jesus’ prayer returns punctually in a crucial moment on His journey, that of the verification of the faith of His disciples. Let us listen again to the evangelist Luke: “As Jesus was praying alone, the disciples were with Him; and He asked them, ‘Who do the people say that I am?’ And they answered, ‘John the Baptist; but others say, Eli’jah, and others, that one of the old prophets has risen’. And He asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ And Peter answered, on behalf of them all, ’The Christ of God’. But he charged and commanded them tell this to no one” (9:18-21). That is, the great turning points of Jesus' mission are always preceded by prayer, but not just in passing, by intense, prolonged prayer. There is always prayer in those moments. This test of faith seems to be a goal, but it is instead a renewed starting point for the disciples, because from then on, it is as if Jesus took on a new tone in His mission, speaking openly to them of His passion, death and resurrection.

With this prospect, that gives rise instinctively to repulsion, both in the disciples and in we who read the Gospel, prayer is the only source of light and strength. It is necessary to pray more intensely, every time the road takes an uphill turn.

And indeed, after announcing to the disciples what awaits Him in Jerusalem, the episode of the Transfiguration takes place. Jesus “took with Him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And as He was praying, the appearance of His countenance was altered, and His raiment became dazzling white. And behold, two men talked with Him, Moses and Eli’jah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His departure, which He was to accomplish at Jerusalem” (9:28-31), that is, the Passion. Therefore, this anticipated manifestation of the glory of Jesus took place in prayer, while the Son was immersed in communion with the Father and fully consented to His will of love, to His plan of salvation. And out of that prayer came a clear word for the three disciples involved: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to Him” (Lk 9:35). From prayer comes the invitation to listen to Jesus, always from prayer.

From this quick journey through the Gospel, let us learn that Jesus not only wants us to pray as He prays, but assures us that, even if our attempts at prayer are completely vain and ineffective, we can always count on His prayer. We must be aware of this: Jesus prays for me. Once, a good bishop told me that in a very bad moment in his life, a very, very, very great trial, in which all was in darkness, he looked up in the Basilica and saw this phrase written: “I, Peter, will pray for you”. And this gave him strength and consolation. And this happens every time that any each of us knows that Jesus is praying for him or for her. Jesus prays for us. In this moment, in this very moment. Do this memory exercise, repeat this. When there is a difficulty, when you feel the orbital pull of distractions: Jesus is praying for me. But father, is this true? It is true! He said it Himself. Let us not forget that what sustains each of us in life is Jesus’ prayer for every one of us, with our name and surname, before the Father, showing Him the wounds that are the price of our salvation.

Even if our prayers were only stuttering, if they were compromised by a wavering faith, we must never cease to trust in Him: I do not know how to pray but He prays for me. Supported by Jesus’ prayer, our timid prayers rest on eagle wings and soar up to Heaven. Do not forget: Jesus is praying for me. Now? Now. In the moment of trial, in the moment of sin, even in that sin, Jesus is praying for me with so much love. Thank you.




Pope Francis     09.06.21  General Audience, San Damaso courtyard      Catechesis on prayer: 36. Perseverance in love           1 Thessalonians 5: 15-20

Pope Francis General Audience on Prayer 09.06.21


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In this penultimate catechesis on prayer we are going to speak about perseverance in praying. It is an invitation, indeed a command that comes to us from Sacred Scripture. The spiritual journey of the Russian pilgrim begins when he comes across a phrase of Saint Paul in the First Letter to the Thessalonians: “Pray constantly, always and for everything give thanks” (5:17-18). The Apostle’s words struck the man and he wondered how it was possible to pray without interruption, given that our lives are fragmented into so many different moments, which do not always make concentration possible. From this question he begins his search, which will lead him to discover what is called the prayer of the heart. It consists in repeating with faith: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” A simple prayer, but very beautiful. A prayer that, little by little, adapts itself to the rhythm of breath and extends throughout the day. What was it? “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”. I can’t hear you. Louder! “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”. And repeat it, repeat it, eh! This is important. Indeed, the breath never stops, not even while we sleep; and prayer is the breath of life.

How, then, it is possible always to preserve a state of prayer? The Catechism offer beautiful quotations from the history of spirituality, which insist on the need for continuous prayer, that it may be the fulcrum of Christian existence. I will look at some of them.

The monk Evagrius Ponticus thus states: “We have not been commanded to work, to keep watch and to fast continually” – no, this is not demanded – “but it has been laid down that we are to pray without ceasing” (2742). The heart in prayer. There is therefore an ardour in the Christian life, which must never fail. It is a little like that sacred fire that was kept in the ancient temples, that burned without interruption and which the priests had the task of keeping alive. So there must be a sacred fire in us too, which burns continuously and which nothing can extinguish. And it is not easy. But this is how it must be.

Saint John Chrysostom, another pastor who was attentive to real life, preached: “Even while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop, while buying or selling, or even while cooking” (2743). Little prayers: “Lord, have pity on us”, “Lord, help me”. So, prayer is a kind of musical staff, where we inscribe the melody of our lives. It is not in contrast with daily work, it does not contradict the many small obligations and appointments; if anything, it is the place where every action finds its meaning, its reason and its peace. In prayer.

Certainly, putting these principles into practice is not easy. A father and a mother, caught up in a thousand tasks, may feel nostalgia for a time in their life in which it was easy to find regular times and spaces for prayer. Then come children, work, family life, ageing parents… One has the impression that it will never be possible to get through it all. And so it is good for us to think that God, our Father, who must take care of all the universe, always remembers each one of us. Therefore, we too must always remember Him!

We can also remember that in Christian monasticism work has always been held in great esteem, not only because of the moral duty to provide for oneself and others, but also for a sort of balance, an inner balance – work, no? It is dangerous for man to cultivate an interest so abstract that he loses contact with reality. Work helps us to stay in touch with reality. The monk’s hands joined in prayer bear the calluses of those who wield shovels and hoes. When, in the Gospel of Luke (cf. 10:38-42), Jesus tells Saint Martha that the only thing that is truly necessary is to listen to God, He does not in any way mean to disparage the many services that she was performing with such effort.

Everything in the human being is “binary”: our body is symmetrical, we have two arms, two eyes, two hands… And so, work and prayer are also complementary. Prayer - which is the “breath” of everything - remains as the living backdrop of work, even in moments in which this is not explicit. It is inhuman to be so absorbed by work that you can no longer find the time for prayer.

At the same time, a prayer that is alien from life is not healthy. A prayer that alienates itself from the concreteness of life becomes spiritualism, or worse, ritualism. Let us remember that Jesus, after showing the disciples His glory on Mount Tabor, did not want to prolong that moment of ecstasy, but instead came down from the mountain with them and resumed the daily journey. Because that experience had to remain in their hearts as the light and strength of their faith; also a light and strength for the days that were soon to come: those of the Passion. In this way, the time dedicated to staying with God revive faith, which helps us in the practicalities of living, and faith, in turn, nurtures prayer, without interruption. In this circularity between faith, life and prayer, one keeps alight that flame of Christian life that God expects of us.

And let us repeat the simple prayer that it is so good to repeat during the day. Let’s see if you can still remember it. All together: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”. Saying this prayer continually will help you in the union with Jesus. Thank you.