Saints accompany, intercede for Christians in prayer

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Christians are never alone in prayer but instead are accompanied by myriad saints who protect them and seek God’s intercession, Pope Francis said.
Whenever men or women open their hearts to God, they will always be in the “company of anonymous 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,” the pope said April 7 during his weekly general audience.
Continuing his series of talks on prayer, the pope reflected on the connection between prayer and the communion of saints who are “not far from us” and are a reminder of Jesus Christ because they have also “walked the path of life” as Christians.
“In the church, there is no mourning that remains solitary, no tear that is shed in oblivion, because everything breathes and participates in a common grace,” he said.

Pope Francis leads his general audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican April 7, 2021. The pope said Christians are never alone in prayer but instead are accompanied by countless saints who have preceded them. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The tradition of having graveyards around churches is a sign of that sharing, he said. It is “as if to say that every Eucharist is attended in some way by those who have preceded us. There are our parents and grandparents, our godfathers and godmothers, our catechists and other educators,” who have not only transmitted faith but also “the way of praying.”
The saints, he explained, are “witnesses that we do not adore – that is understood, we do not worship 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 human beings.”
Departing from his prepared remarks, the pope said the lives of saints also serve as a reminder that “even in our lives, though weak and marked by sin, holiness can blossom.”
“In the Gospels, we read that the first ‘canonized’ saint was a thief and he was ‘canonized’ not by a pope, but by Jesus himself,” he said. “Holiness is a path of life, of encounter with Jesus, whether long or short, or in an instant, but always a witness” of God’s love.
The pope also highlighted the need for Christians to pray for one another, which is “the first way of loving” others.
In times of tension, he said, “one way to dissolve the conflict, to soften it, is to pray for the person with whom I am in conflict. Something changes with prayer; the first thing that changes is my heart, my attitude. The Lord changes it to make an encounter possible, a new encounter, and prevents the conflict from becoming a war without end.”
Pope Francis said the first thing people must do in times of anguish is to ask “our brothers and sisters, the saints above all, to pray for us” because they will “give us hand to obtain from God the graces we need most.”
Christians who “have not reached the breaking point” and persevere in times of trial perhaps owe it to the intercession of the saints who are not only in heaven, but also the holy men and women here on earth, the pope added.
“They don’t know it, neither do we, but there are saints, everyday saints, hidden saints or as I like to say the ‘saints next door,’ those who live in life with us, who work with us, and lead a life of holiness,” he said.

Gift of the Holy Spirit connects people to Christ, pope says at audience

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Every Christian is unique because the Holy Spirit inspires something new and original in each person, creating “an endless field of holiness,” Pope Francis said.
“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 expressed in each of those whom God’s mercy has made his children,” the pope said March 17 during his weekly general audience.
During the audience livestreamed from the library of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis concluded his series of talks about prayer by looking at 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,” he said. It is the key, essential gift because without the Holy Spirit, “there is no relationship with Christ and with the Father.”
The Spirit opens the human heart to Christ’s presence “and draws it into that ‘vortex’ of love that is the very heart of God,” he said.
The Holy Spirit “dwells in us; it is he who transforms us deeply and makes us experience the moving joy of being loved by God as his true children,” the pope said.
The Spirit writes the story of the church and of the world, he said, and “we are open pages, available to receive his handwriting.”
“In each of us, the Spirit composes original works because there is never one Christian who is completely identical to another,” creating a vast and flourishing “field of holiness.”

Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican March 17, 2021. The pope spoke about the role of the Holy Spirit in making Jesus present in people’s lives. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The church invites the faithful to call upon the Holy Spirit every day, to make Christ present so he can guide and transform his disciples, he added.
Calling on the Spirit for support and inspiration is important, especially when one has not prayed in a long time, has lost the desire to pray or recites prayers “like a parrot,” with no depth of feeling or faith, he said.
“This is the moment to say to the Spirit, ‘Come. Come, Holy Spirit and warm my heart. Come, teach me to pray, teach me to look to the Father, the son, teach me the way the path of faith goes, teach me to love, and above all, teach me to have an attitude of hope.’”
“If Christ were only far away in time, we would be alone and lost in the world,” Pope Francis said, but with the Spirit, “the possibility of encountering Christ is open to Christians of every time and place.”
Christians must “keep alive this flame” of the Holy Spirit, of God’s love, in their heart, the pope said, the same way the lamp next to the tabernacle stays lit “even when the church empties and darkness falls, even when the church is closed.”
“No one sees it, yet it burns before the Lord,” he said. “That’s how the Spirit is in our heart, always present like that lamp.”

For Lent, read the Gospel, fast from gossip, pope says at Angelus

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – People should fast from gossiping and spreading hearsay as part of their Lenten journey, Pope Francis said.
“For Lent this year, I will not speak ill of others, I will not gossip and all of us can do this, everyone. This is a wonderful kind of fasting,” the pope said Feb. 28 after praying the Sunday Angelus.
Greeting visitors in St. Peter’s Square, the pope said his advice for Lent included adding a different kind of fasting “that won’t make you feel hungry: fasting from spreading rumors and gossiping.”
“And don’t forget that it will also be helpful to read a verse from the Gospel every day,” he said, urging people to have on hand a pocket-size edition to read whenever possible, even if it is just a random verse.
“This will open your heart to the Lord,” he added.
The pope also led a moment of prayer for the more than 300 girls who were kidnapped by unidentified gunmen Feb. 26 in Jangebe in northwestern Nigeria.
Adding his voice to statements made by Nigeria’s bishops, the pope condemned the “vile kidnapping of 317 girls, taken away from their school,” and he prayed for them and their families, hoping for their safe return home.

Pope Francis greets the crowd as he leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Feb. 28, 2021. In his Angelus address, he encouraged people to read the Gospel during Lent and fast from gossip. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The nation’s bishops had already warned of the deteriorating situation in the country in a Feb. 23 statement, according to Vatican News.
“We are really on the brink of a looming collapse from which we must do all we can to pull back before the worst overcomes the nation,” the bishops wrote in response to a previous attack. Insecurity and corruption have put into question “the very survival of the nation,” they wrote.
The pope also marked Rare Disease Day, held Feb. 28 to raise awareness and improve advocacy and access to treatment.
He thanked all those involved in medical research for diagnosing and coming up with treatments for rare diseases, and he encouraged support networks and associations so people do not feel alone and can share experience and advice.
“Let us pray for all people who have a rare disease,” he said, especially for children who suffer.
In his main address, he reflected on the day’s Gospel reading (Mk 9:2-10) about Peter, James and John witnessing the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain and their subsequent descent back down to the valley.
The pope said pausing with the Lord on the mountain “is a call to remember – especially when we pass through a difficult trial – that the Lord is risen and does not permit darkness to have the last word.”
However, he added, “we cannot remain on the mountain and enjoy the beauty of this encounter by ourselves. Jesus himself brings us back to the valley, amid our brothers and sisters and into daily life.”
People must take that light that comes from their encounter with Christ “and make it shine everywhere. Igniting little lights in people’s hearts; being little lamps of the Gospel that bear a bit of love and hope: this is the mission of a Christian,” he said.

Lent is time to grow in faith, hope, love and to share them, pope says

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – As Christians pray, fast and give alms during Lent, they also should consider giving a smile and offering a kind word to people feeling alone or frightened because of the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis said.
“Love rejoices in seeing others grow. Hence it suffers when others are anguished, lonely, sick, homeless, despised or in need,” the pope wrote in his message for Lent 2021.
The message, released by the Vatican Feb. 12, focuses on Lent as “a time for renewing faith, hope and love” through the traditional practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. And, by going to confession.
Throughout the message, Pope Francis emphasized how the Lenten practices not only promote individual conversion, but also should have an impact on others.
“By receiving forgiveness in the sacrament that lies at the heart of our process of conversion, we in turn can spread forgiveness to others,” he said. “Having received forgiveness ourselves, we can offer it through our willingness to enter into attentive dialogue with others and to give comfort to those experiencing sorrow and pain.”
The pope’s message contained several references to his encyclical “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship.”
For example, he prayed that during Lent Catholics would be “increasingly concerned with ‘speaking words of comfort, strength, consolation and encouragement, and not words that demean, sadden, anger or show scorn,’” a quote from the encyclical.

Pope Francis hears the confession of a priest at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome in this March 7, 2019, file photo. In his message for Lent, Pope Francis said the season is “a time for renewing faith, hope and love.” (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

“In order to give hope to others, it is sometimes enough simply to be kind, to be ‘willing to set everything else aside in order to show interest, to give the gift of a smile, to speak a word of encouragement, to listen amid general indifference,’” he said, again quoting the document.
The Lenten practices of fasting, almsgiving and prayer were preached by Jesus and continue to help believers experience and express conversion, the pope wrote.
“The path of poverty and self-denial” through fasting, “concern and loving care for the poor” through almsgiving and “childlike dialogue with the Father” through prayer, he said, “make it possible for us to live lives of sincere faith, living hope and effective charity.”
Pope Francis emphasized the importance of fasting “as a form of self-denial” to rediscover one’s total dependence on God and to open one’s heart to the poor.
“Fasting involves being freed from all that weighs us down – like consumerism or an excess of information, whether true or false – in order to open the doors of our hearts to the one who comes to us, poor in all things, yet full of grace and truth: the son of God our savior.”
Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, presenting the message at a news conference, also insisted on the importance of “fasting and all forms of abstinence,” for example, by giving up “time watching TV so we can go to church, pray or say a rosary. It is only through self-denial that we discipline ourselves to be able to take the gaze off ourselves and to recognize the other, reckon with his needs and thus create access to benefits and goods for people,” ensuring respect for their dignity and rights.
Msgr. Bruno-Marie Duffe, secretary of the dicastery, said that at a time of “anxiety, doubt and sometimes even despair” because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lent is a time for Christians “to walk the way with Christ toward a new life and a new world, toward a new trust in God and in the future.”

Christianity without liturgy is absent of Christ, pope says

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The liturgy is not a spectacle to be observed but a prayerful event where Christians encounter Christ’s presence in their lives, Pope Francis said.
Throughout the Catholic Church’s long history, people have been tempted to practice a private or “intimist Christianity” that failed to recognize the importance of the liturgy in spiritual life, the pope said Feb. 3 during his weekly general audience.
However, “I would dare say that Christianity without liturgy is a Christianity without Christ,” he said.
Continuing his series of talks on prayer, the pope reflected on the significance of the liturgy in Christian life.
While there are certain forms of spirituality in the Catholic Church “that have failed to adequately integrate” the liturgy, the pope noted that “much has been achieved in recent decades,” particularly thanks to the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, “Sacrosanctum Concilium.”

Pope Francis smiles as he leads his general audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican Feb. 3, 2021. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The document, he said, “comprehensively and organically reaffirms the importance of the divine liturgy for the life of Christians” because in the liturgy men and women can truly encounter Christ who is “not an idea or sentiment, but a living person.”
Along with sacred Scripture and the sacraments, the liturgy “may not be dispensed with because in Jesus Christ, it became a way of salvation.”
“Therefore, there is no Christian spirituality that is not rooted in the celebration of the holy mysteries,” the pope said.
The Mass or Divine Liturgy, he continued, is the spiritual act at the heart of “the whole Christian experience” because Jesus makes himself present and “gives himself to his faithful.”
“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!” the pope said. “He 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.”
Christians who go to Mass, he added, are not “spectators of something that slips away without our involvement” but instead are active participants who celebrate it “through the diversity of gifts and ministries.”
Christians are called to transform their lives into an act of worshipping God, Pope Francis said, “but this cannot happen without prayer, especially liturgical prayer.”
“This thought can help all of us: When I go to Sunday Mass, I go to pray in community, I go to pray with Christ who is present,” he added, departing from his prepared remarks. “When we go to a baptism, Christ is there present. (You may say), ‘But Father, this is an idea, a figure of speech.’ No, Christ is present! In the liturgy, you pray with Christ who is next to you.”

World needs Christians to show what journey toward unity looks like, pope says

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Unity requires prayer, love and fighting the devil, who always sows division, Pope Francis said.
The devil “fosters division everywhere and in every way” by tempting people “with the weaknesses of our brothers and sisters. He is astute: He magnifies others’ mistakes and defects, sows discord, provokes criticism and creates factions,” the pope said Jan. 20 during his weekly general audience.
God, on the other hand, “has another way. He takes us as we are, different, sinners and always nudges us toward unity,” he said.
In his audience talk, livestreamed from the library of the Apostolic Palace, the pope reflected on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, celebrated Jan. 18-25. The theme for the 2021 celebration, “Abide in my love … You shall bear much fruit,” is taken from the Gospel of St. John (15:1-17).
“The root of communion is the love of Christ, who makes us overcome our prejudices to see in others a brother or sister to be loved always,” the pope said.
In fact, the pope invited everyone to discover other Christian denominations – their traditions and their history – and see them as “gifts from God” present in one’s neighborhood or town.
“Let us begin to pray for them and, when possible, with them. We will thus learn to love and appreciate them,” he said.
The pope said that at this time of “serious hardship” in the world, the prayer for Christian unity was even more necessary.
“It is urgent that we set aside particular interests to promote the common good and so our good example is fundamental: It is essential that Christians pursue the path toward full visible unity.”
When Jesus prayed that his disciples “may all be one,” he was not ordering them to be united, but was praying “to the Father for us,” the pope said.
“This means that we are not able to achieve unity by ourselves, with our own strength. Above all, unity is a gift, it is a grace to be requested through prayer,” he said.
Unity is a difficult task, not just for Christian communities, but for each individual, he said.

Pope Francis leads his general audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican Jan. 20, 2021. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

“Even the Apostle Paul felt a lacerating conflict within himself: wanting the good but inclined toward evil,” he said.
The root of so many divisions in the world – divisions in the family, society, a nation and among believers – is found inside the human heart, Pope Francis said.
From these internal struggles flow many of the conflicts and tensions in society, which is why “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.”
Praying for unity also means fighting “because our enemy, the devil, is the one who divides,” he added.
People need to ask themselves how they live each day and whether “we nurture conflict or fight for greater unity with the tools that God has given us: prayer and love.”
Christians also need to ask, “Do I pray for unity? It is Jesus’ 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,” the pope said.

In new year, share the blessing of your time

By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – At the beginning of a year people hope will mark the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis urged them to create a “culture of care,” including by sharing the gift of their time with others.
Despite suffering from a bout of sciatica, nerve pain, that left him unable to preside over Mass Jan. 1 in St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope sent a homily focused on God’s blessings and on sharing those blessings with others.
Consecrating the new year to Mary, the pope prayed that she would “care for us, bless our time, and teach us to find time for God and for others.”
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, read the pope’s homily as he celebrated the Mass for the feast of Mary, Mother of God, and for the Catholic Church’s celebration of World Peace Day.
Only about 100 people, all wearing masks, were in the socially distanced congregation for the Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica. Two dozen cardinals, also wearing masks, concelebrated.
In the homily he wrote, Pope Francis returned to themes from his World Peace Day message – “A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace” – and a recent general audience talk about prayers of blessing.
“This year, while we hope for new beginnings and new cures, let us not neglect care,” the pope wrote. “Together with a vaccine for our bodies, we need a vaccine for our hearts. That vaccine is care. This will be a good year if we take care of others, as Our Lady does with us.”
“The Lord knows how much we need to be blessed,” the pope wrote. “The first thing he did after creating the world was to say that everything was good and to say of us that that we were very good.”
But with the birth of Jesus, he said, “we receive not only words of blessing, but the blessing itself: Jesus is himself the blessing of the Father.”
“Every time we open our hearts to Jesus, God’s blessing enters our lives,” he said.
The example of Mary, blessed in a special way, he wrote, “teaches us that blessings are received in order to be given.”
Referring to the Latin roots of the word “benediction” – to speak well – Pope Francis wrote that “we, too, are called to bless, to ‘speak well’ in God’s name.”
“Our world is gravely polluted by the way we speak and think badly of others, of society, of ourselves,” he said. But complaining and denigrating others “corrupts and decays, whereas blessing restores life and gives the strength needed to begin anew.”
The blessing of Jesus’ birth, he wrote, is all the more amazing because God sent the savior into the world as a baby, who was formed in the flesh within the womb of Mary.
“The heart of the Lord began to beat within Mary; the God of life drew oxygen from her,” the pope wrote. “Through Mary, we encounter God the way he wants us to: in tender love, in intimacy, in the flesh.”
As 2021 begins, he said, people should make a commitment to finding time for others.
“Time is a treasure that all of us possess, yet we guard it jealously, since we want to use it only for ourselves,” he wrote. “Let us ask for the grace to find time for God and for our neighbor – for those who are alone or suffering, for those who need someone to listen and show concern for them.”

(Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju)

No pandemic can extinguish Christ’s light

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – No pandemic and no kind of crisis can extinguish the light of Christ, Pope Francis said.
May people let his light into their heart “and let us lend a hand to those who need it most. In this way God will be born anew in us and among us,” the pope said in his remarks after praying the Angelus with visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square Dec. 6.
From his studio window of the apostolic palace, the pope indicated the 92-foot-tall spruce tree already standing in the square and the work underway setting up this year’s Nativity scene.
“These two signs of Christmas are being prepared, to the delight of children and adults, too,” in many homes around the world, he said.
“They are signs of hope, especially in this difficult time,” the pope said.
However, it is essential that people go beyond the symbols and embrace their meaning, which is Jesus – “the infinite goodness” that God revealed and made shine on the world, he added.

Pope Francis leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Dec. 6, 2020. No pandemic and no kind of crisis can extinguish the light of Christ, the pope said to visitors gathered in the square. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

“There is no pandemic, there is no crisis that can extinguish this light,” he told the visitors who held umbrellas or were wearing rain gear under cloudy skies and alternating rain and drizzle.
Before the Angelus prayer, the pope spoke about Advent being a time to prepare for receiving the Lord at Christmas and, therefore, the need for conversion.
Conversion requires a change in “direction and orientation” as well as a change in one’s way of thinking.
One must be sorrowful for one’s sins and want to turn “from evil to good, from sin to love of God” forever, he said.
“To exclude sin, it is also necessary to reject everything that is connected to sin; the things that are connected to sin and that need to be rejected – a worldly mentality, excessive esteem for comforts, excessive esteem for pleasure, for well-being, for wealth,” he said.
Along with being detached from sin and worldliness, one must also be focused on searching for God and his kingdom, and seeking communion and friendship with God, he said.
“But this is not easy,” Pope Francis said.
“Temptation always pulls down, pulls down, and thus the ties that keep us close to sin: inconstancy, discouragement, malice, unwholesome environments, bad examples,” he said.
People may be tempted to become discouraged and believe it is impossible to truly convert.
“But it is possible” and people must avoid these discouraging thoughts as if they were “quicksand,” which will quickly mire one into a “mediocre existence.”
People must remind themselves that “no one can convert by his or own strength,” the pope said.
“It is a grace that the Lord gives you and thus we need to forcefully ask God for it” and “open ourselves up to the beauty, the goodness, the tenderness of God.”
“God is not a bad father, an unkind father, no. He is tender. He loves us so much, like the Good Shepherd, who searches for the last member of his flock,” the pope said.
“You begin to walk, because it is he who moves you to walk, and you will see how he will arrive. Pray, walk, and you will always take a step forward.”

Like parents, God loves his children even at their worst

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – While sin may distort and disfigure the image of Christ that every person bears, it does not completely erase it, nor does it remove people from God’s abundant mercy, Pope Francis said.
At his weekly general audience Dec. 2, the pope said that even when a sinner remains “in error for a long time,” God waits patiently, “hoping that the sinner’s heart will eventually open and change.”
“God is like a good father and a good mother: They never stop loving their child, no matter what he or she may have done wrong,” the pope said during the audience, which was livestreamed from the library of the Apostolic Palace.
While continuing his series of talks on prayer, Pope Francis also offered prayers for the victims of a terrorist attack Nov. 28 in Nigeria; 43 farmers near the northeastern city of Maiduguri were brutally murdered.
According to BBC News, no one has claimed responsibility. However, it is believed that either Boko Haram or the Islamic State West Africa terrorist organizations, both active in the area, were responsible.
Remembering the victims, the pope prayed that God would “welcome them in his peace and comfort their families and convert the hearts of those who commit such horrors, which seriously offend his name.”
In his main talk, the pope reflected on blessings, which, he said, are “an essential dimension of prayer.”
Noting that there is a “continual repetition of blessings” in the first pages of the Bible, the pope said that both God and humankind give blessings, and that a 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.”
Even though sin “altered” the beauty of God’s creation and converted the human being into “a degenerate creature capable of spreading evil and death in the world,” it did not take away the inherent goodness embedded in each person, he said.
God did not make a mistake creating the world or people, he said.
“The hope of the world lies entirely in God’s blessing: He continues to desire our good; he is the first, as the poet Peguy said, to continue to hope for our good,” the pope said, citing the French poet Charles Peguy, whose works were heavily influenced by Catholicism.
Departing from his prepared remarks, Pope Francis drew a comparison between God’s love for all and the love of countless mothers who wait in long lines to visit their children in prison.
“They do not stop loving their children, and they know that the people who pass by in the bus are thinking, ‘Ah, that is the mother of that prisoner,’” he said. “Yet they are not ashamed of this, or rather, they are ashamed, but they keep going because their child is more important than shame.”
“Thus, for God, we are more important than all the sins 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 stop blessing us,” the pope said.

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At audience, pope renews commitment to fight abuse

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – After the Vatican released its extensive report on Theodore E. McCarrick, Pope Francis renewed the Catholic Church’s pledge to uproot the scourge of sexual abuse.
Before concluding his weekly general audience Nov. 11, the pope made his first public statement on the release of the report regarding the “painful case” of the former cardinal.
“I renew my closeness to all victims of every form of abuse and the church’s commitment to eradicate this evil,” he said.
After reading his brief comment on the report, the pope bowed his head and closed his eyes in silent prayer.
The 460-page report, which was published by the Vatican Nov. 10, chronicled McCarrick’s rise through the church’s hierarchal ranks despite decades of accusations of sexual abuse and abuse of power.
Before his comment on the report, the pope continued his series of audience talks on prayer, reflecting on the importance of perseverance.
He began by saying he was told by someone that he “speaks too much about prayer” and that it was unnecessary.
However, he said, “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 upon us the Holy Spirit who always carries us forward. That is why I speak so much about prayer.”
Jesus taught people to engage in “constant dialogue” with God not only with the example of his own prayer, but also with parables that highlighted the importance of perseverance in prayer.
Reflecting on Jesus’ parable of the tenacious person who knocks unceasingly at his friend’s door asking for bread, the pope said that unlike the friend who relents after constant insistence, 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.”
Jesus’ parable of the widow who persistently sought and eventually obtained justice from an unscrupulous judge, he continued, serves as a reminder 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.”
Finally, the parable of the Pharisee who boasted his merits during prayer while the publican feels unworthy to enter the temple reveals that “there is no true prayer without humility,” he said.
Pope Francis said the Gospel encourages Christians to pray always, “even when everything seems in vain, when God appears to be deaf and mute and it seems we are wasting time.”
“There are many days of our life when faith seems to be an illusion, a sterile exertion,” the pope said. “But the practice of prayer means accepting even this exertion. Many saints experienced the night of faith and God’s silence, and they were persevering.”
True Christians, the pope added, do not fear anything but instead “entrust themselves to the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us a gift and who prays with us.”

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