Thus the plea the first Christian community of Jerusalem made to God in prayer was not “to be defended, to be spared from trials or to enjoy success, but only to be able to proclaim … the Word of God frankly, freely and courageously”. The community also asked that “their proclamation be accompanied by the hand of God so that healing, signs and wonders could be accomplished. In other words, they wanted to become a force for the transformation of reality, changing the hearts, minds and lives of men and bringing the radical novelty of the Gospel”.
“We too”, the Holy Father concluded his catechesis, “must bring the events of our daily lives into our prayer, in order to seek their most profound significance. And we too, like the first Christian community, allowing ourselves to be illuminated by the Word of God and meditating on Sacred Scripture, may learn to see that God is present in our lives, even at moments of difficulty, and that everything … is part of a plan of love in which the final victory over evil, sin and death is truly is that of goodness, grace, life and God”.
Pope Benedict on Prayer 25 – Venerating the Mother of God Means Learning to Become a Community of Prayer
“Venerating the Mother of Jesus in the Church means, then, learning from her how to become a community of prayer”, the Holy Father added. “This is one of the essential aspects of the first description of the Christian community given in the Acts of the Apostles”.
Our prayers “are often dictated by difficult situations, by personal problems which cause us to turn to the Lord in search of light, comfort and aid. But Mary invites us to open prayer to other dimensions, to address God not only in moments of need and not only for ourselves, but unanimously, perseveringly, faithfully and with ‘one heart and soul'”.
“In our prayers”, he said, “we often find ourselves facing the silence of God. We almost experience a sense of abandonment; it seems that God does not listen and does not respond. But this silence, as happened to Jesus, does not signify absence. Christians know that the Lord is present and listens, even in moments of darkness and pain, of rejection and solitude. Jesus assures His disciples and each one of us that God is well aware of our needs at every moment of our lives”.
“For us, who are so frequently concerned with operational effectiveness and with the results … we achieve, the prayer of Jesus is a reminder that we need to stop, to experience moments of intimacy with God, ‘detaching ourselves’ from the turmoil of daily life in order to listen, to return to the ‘root’ which nourishes and sustains our existence. One of the most beautiful moments of Jesus’ prayer is when, faced with the sickness, discomfort and limitations of his interlocutors, He addresses His Father in prayer, thus showing those around him where they must go to seek the source of hope and salvation”.
Dear brothers and sisters, the words of Jesus on the cross in the last moments of his earthly life offer challenging indications to our prayers, but also open them to a quiet confidence and a firm hope. Jesus by asking the Father to forgive those who are crucifying him, invites us to the difficult act of praying for those who do us wrong, who have damaged us, knowing always how to forgive, so the light of God may illuminate their hearts, inviting us, that is, to live in our prayers, the same attitude of mercy and love that God has towards us: “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive our those who trespass against us,” we say every day in the “Our Father.” At the same time, Jesus in the final moment of death, by placing himself entirely in the hands of God the Father, communicates to us the certainty that, no matter how hard the trial, difficult the problem, heavy the suffering, we never fall from the hands of God, those hands that created us, support us and accompany us on the journey of life, because guided by an infinite and faithful love.
“This also happens in our own relationship with the Lord”, the Pope added. “In the face of difficult and painful situations, when it seems that God does not hear, we must not be afraid to entrust Him with the burden we are carrying in our hearts, we must not be afraid to cry out to Him in our suffering”.
“Jesus prays at the moment of ultimate rejection by man, at the moment of abandonment. However, He is aware that God the Father is present even at the instant in which He is experiencing the human drama of death. Yet nonetheless, a question arises in our hearts: how is it possible that such a powerful God does not intervene to save His Son from this terrible trial?”
The Holy Father explained that “it is important to understand that the prayer of Jesus is not the cry of a person who meets death with desperation, nor that of a person who knows he has been abandoned. At that moment Jesus appropriates Psalm 22, the Psalm of the suffering people of Israel, at that moment He takes upon Himself not only the suffering of His people, but also that of all men and women oppressed by evil. … And He takes all this to the heart of God in the certainty that His cry will be heard in the resurrection. … His is a suffering in communion with us and for us, it derives from love and carries within itself redemption and the victory of love.
“The people at the foot of Jesus’ cross were unable to understand, they thought His cry was a supplication to Elijah. … We likewise find ourselves, ever and anew, facing the ‘today’ of suffering, the silence of God – many times we say as much in our prayers – but we also find ourselves facing the ‘today’ of the Resurrection, of the response of God Who took our sufferings upon Himself, to carry them with us and give us the certain hope that they will be overcome”.
“In our prayers”, the Holy Father concluded, “let us bring God our daily crosses, in the certainty that He is present and listens to us. The cry of Jesus reminds us that in prayer we must cross the barrier of ‘self’ and our own problems, and open ourselves to the needs and sufferings of others. May the prayer of the dying Jesus on the cross teach us to pray with love for so many brothers and sisters who feel the burden of daily life, who are experiencing moments of difficulty, who suffer and hear no words of comfort, that they may feel the love of God Who never abandons us.
Pope Benedict on Prayer 20 – Christian Unity Requires Individual Conversion: The priestly prayer of Jesus
Benedict XVI invited the faithful to read and meditate upon Jesus priestly prayer, and to pray to God themselves, asking Him “to help us enter fully into the plan He has for each of us. Let us ask Him to consecrate us to Himself, that we may belong to Him and show increasing love for others, both near and far. Let us ask Him to help us open our prayers to the world, not limiting them to requests for help in our own problems, but remembering our fellow man before the Lord and learning the beauty of interceding for others. Let us ask Him for the gift of visible unity among all those who believe in Christ, … that we may be ready to respond to anyone who asks us about the reasons for our hope”.
“In contemplating Jesus’ words and gestures that night, we can clearly see that it was in His intimate and constant relationship with the Father that He accomplished the gesture of leaving to His followers, and to all of us, the Sacrament of love”, said the Pope. During the Last Supper Jesus also prayed for His disciples, who likewise had to suffer harsh trials. With that prayer “He supported them in their weakness, their difficulty in understanding that the way of God had to pass through the Paschal mystery of death and resurrection, which was anticipated in the offer of bread and wine. The Eucharist is the food of pilgrims, a source of strength also for those who are tired, weary and disoriented”.
“The Holy Family”, Benedict XVI concluded, “is an icon of the domestic Church, which is called to pray together. The family is the first school of prayer where, from their infancy, children learn to perceive God thanks to the teaching and example of their parents. An authentically Christian education cannot neglect the experience of prayer. If we do not learn to pray in the family, it will be difficult to fill this gap later. I would, then, like to invite people to rediscover the beauty of praying together as a family, following the school of the Holy Family of Nazareth”.
“These episodes, said the Holy Father, help us to understand “that when we ask the Lord for something in prayer, we must not expect an immediate fulfilment of our requests, of our will; rather, we should entrust outsides to the will of the Father, reading events in the perspective of His glory, of His plan of love which is often a mystery to our eyes. Thus in our prayer, request, praise and thanksgiving should fuse together, even when it seems to us that God does not respond to our expectations. Abandoning ourselves to the love of God, which always precedes and accompanies us, is a fundamental principle in our dialogue with Him. … Beyond anything that God may give us when we invoke Him, the greatest gift He can give us is His friendship, His presence, His love”. The giver is more precious than the gift.”
But, to whom does the Son want to reveal the mysteries of God? “Divine revelation”, the pontiff explained, “does not occur within earthly logic, according to which humans are the wise and powerful who posses important knowledge and transmit it to those who are more simple. … God’s style is another: His communication is addressed precisely to the ‘childlike’. … And what is this childlikeness that opens humans to a filial intimacy with God and to welcoming His will? … It is the pureness of heart that allows us to recognize the face of God in Jesus Christ. It is keeping our hearts as simple as those of children, without the presumptions of those who are locked in themselves, thinking they have no need of anyone, not even God”.
Pope Benedict on Prayer 15 – Jesus’ Prayer – “ Listening, meditating and remaining in silence before the Lord is an art”.”
By praying after His Baptism, Jesus demonstrates His intimate bond with the Father, “experiencing His paternity and apprehending the demanding beauty of His love. Speaking to God, Jesus receives confirmation of His mission”, with the words that resound from on high: “This is my son, the Beloved” and with the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Him. “Through prayer”, the Pope said, “Jesus lives in uninterrupted contact with the Father in order to achieve His project of love for mankind”. It is in this profound union with the Father that Jesus made the move for the hidden life of Nazareth to His public ministry.
Pope Benedict on Prayer 14 – Psalm 110: “ true regality which is to be lived as service and the giving of self, following a path of obedience and love ‘to the end’.”
The Psalm invites us to “look to Christ to understand the meaning of true regality which is to be lived as service and the giving of self, following a path of obedience and love ‘to the end’. Praying this Psalm, we therefore ask the Lord to enable us to proceed along this same journey, following Christ, the Messiah, willing to ascend with Him on the hill of the cross to accompany Him in glory, and to look to Him seated at the right hand of the Father, the victorious king and merciful priest Who gives forgiveness and salvation to all mankind”.
Psalm 119 is constructed around this Word of life and blessing. Its central theme is the Word and the Law, and its verses are replete with synonyms thereof such as “precepts, decrees, promises”, associated with verbs such as “to know, to love, to meditate, to live”, the Holy Father explained. “The entire alphabet features in the twenty-two verses of the Psalm, as does the entire vocabulary of the believer’s relationship of trust with God. We find praise, thanksgiving and trust, but also supplication and lamentation; however, all of them are pervaded by the certainty of divine grace and the power of the Word of God. Even those verses most marked by suffering and darkness remain open to hope and are permeated with faith”.
VATICAN CITY, 19 OCT 2011 (VIS) – Some 20,000 pilgrims attended Benedict XVI’s general audience, which was held this morning in St. Peter’s Square. Continuing a series of catecheses dedicated to the Psalms, the Holy Father focused his attention on Psalm 136, “a great hymn of praise which celebrates the Lord in the many and … Read more
HUMAN HISTORY IS A HISTORY OF SALVATION – Psalm 126 VATICAN CITY, OCT. 12, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the Italian-language catechesis Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience held in St. Peter’s Square. The Pope today continued his catecheses on prayer with a reflection on Psalm 126. * * * Dear … Read more
Psalm 23 – Vatican.va Dear Brothers and Sisters, Turning to the Lord in prayer implies a radical act of trust, in the awareness that one is entrusting oneself to God who is good, “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex 34:6-7; Ps 86:15; cf. Joel 2:13; Jon 4:2; … Read more
The Psalmist’s opening cry of “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is “an appeal addressed to a God Who appears distant, Who does not respond”, said the Holy Father. “God is silent, a silence that rends the Psalmists heart as he continues to cry out incessantly but finds no response”. Nonetheless, he “calls the Lord ‘my’ God, in an extreme act of trust and faith. Despite appearances, the Psalmist cannot believe that his bond with the Lord has been severed entirely”.
In the Psalm, the king’s enemies are many and powerful, and the imbalance between David’s forces and those of his persecutors “justifies the urgency of his cry for help”. Nonetheless his adversaries “also seek to break his bond with God and to undermine the faith of their victim by insinuating that the Lord cannot intervene”.
Thus, the aggression “is not only physical, it also has a spiritual dimension” aimed at “the central core of the Psalmist’s being. This is the extreme temptation a believer suffers: the temptation of losing faith and trust in the closeness of God”, the Holy Father said.
The Psalms teach us to pray”, the Holy Father explained. “In them, the Word of God becomes the word of prayer. … People who pray the Psalms speak to God with the words of God, addressing Him with the words He Himself taught us.
“Firstly”, he said, “is the priority of the first commandment of God’s Law: having no god but God. When God disappears man falls into slavery, into idolatry, as has happened in our time under totalitarian regimes and with the various forms of nihilism which make man dependent on idols and idolatry, which enslave”. Secondly, he continued, “the main objective of prayer is conversion: the fire of God which transforms our hearts and makes us capable of seeing God and living for Him and for others”. Thirdly, “the Church Fathers tell us that this story is … a foretaste of the future, which is Christ. It is a step on the journey towards Christ”.
For Complete Updated Text in English click here VATICAN CITY, 1 JUN 2011 (VIS) – Benedict XVI dedicated today’s general Wednesday audience catechesis to the figure of Moses who “carried out his function as mediator between God and Israel, making himself the bearer of the divine words and commands for his people, bringing them to … Read more
For Complete Updated Text in English click here VATICAN CITY, 25 MAY 2011 (VIS) – Continuing with his catecheses on prayer, Benedict XVI spoke in today’s general audience about the Patriarch Jacob and his fight with the unknown man at the ford of the Jabbok. The audience was held in St. Peter’s Square with 15,000 … Read more
From Vatican.va (the extended version translated into English from the Italian) GENERAL AUDIENCE (the fuller catechesis translated into English from the Italian text) Dear brothers and sisters, In the two previous catechesis we thought that prayer is a universal phenomenon, which – although in different forms – is present in the cultures of all time. Today … Read more
From Vatican.va (the extended version translated into English from the Italian) GENERAL AUDIENCE (the fuller catechesis translated into English from the Italian text) Piazza San Pietro Wednesday, May 11, 2011 Dear brothers and sisters, Today I wish to continue my reflection on how prayer and the sense of religion have been part of man throughout … Read more
Here is the This is the English translation of the extended remarks of the Holy Father, found on the Vatican website, from his audience on May 4 on “The man in prayer” Dear brothers and sisters, Today I would like to begin a new series of Catecheses. After the series on the Fathers of the … Read more