– Benedict XVI today resumed his general audiences in the Vatican, having held them at Castelgandolfo during the month of August. Meeting with faithful in the Paul VI Hall he turned his attention to prayer in the Book of Revelation which, he explained, “presents us with the living breathing prayer of the Christian assembly, gathered together ‘on the Lord’s day'”.
Revelation, Pope Benedict went on, “is a difficult book, but one of great richness. … In it a reader presents the assembly with a message entrusted by God to John the Evangelist. … From the dialogue between them a symphony of prayer arises which is then developed in many different forms up until the conclusion”.
The first part of Revelation presents us with the assembly in prayer in three successive phases. The first of these highlights how “prayer is, above all, a listening to God Who speaks. Engulfed as we are by so many words we are little used to listening, and especially to adopting an interior and exterior attitude of silence so as to attend to what the Lord wishes to say to us. These verses also teach us that our prayers, often merely prayers of request, must in fact be first and foremost prayers of praise to God for His love, for the gift of Jesus Christ which brought us strength, hope and salvation. … God, Who reveals Himself as the beginning and the end of the story, welcomes and takes to heart the assembly’s request”.
This first phase also includes another important element. “Constant prayer revives in us a sense of the Lord’s presence in our life and history. His presence supports us, guides us and gives us great hope. … Prayer, even that pronounced in the most extreme solitude, is never a form of isolation and it is never sterile, it is a vital lymph which nourishes an increasingly committed and coherent Christian existence”.
In the second phase of the prayer of the assembly “the relationship with Jesus Christ is developed further. The Lord makes Himself visible, He speaks and acts, and the community, increasingly close to Him, listens, reacts and accepts”.
In the third phase “the Church in prayer, accepting the word of the Lord, is transformed. … The assembly listens to the message, and receives a stimulus for repentance, conversion, perseverance, growth in love and guidance for the journey”.
“The Revelation”, Benedict XVI concluded, “presents us with a community gathered in prayer, because it is in prayer that we gain an increasing awareness of Jesus’ presence with us and within us. The more and the better we prayer with constancy and intensity, the more we are assimilated to Him, and the more He enters into our lives to guide them and give them joy and peace. And the more we know, love and follow Jesus, the more we feel the need to dwell in prayer with Him, receiving serenity, hope and strength for our lives”.