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Pope Francis walked past people in traditional clothing at his general audience in Paul VI Hall Dec. 12. Before the audience, the pope blew out candles on a cake a visitor had prepared. The pope will celebrate his 82nd birthday Dec. 17.
Pope Francis walked past people in traditional clothing at his general audience in Paul VI Hall Dec. 12. Before the audience, the pope blew out candles on a cake a visitor had prepared. The pope will celebrate his 82nd birthday Dec. 17.
Photo Credit: Max Rossi | Reuters

POPE’S MESSAGE | Don’t be afraid to ask for things from God in prayer

VATICAN CITY — No one should be afraid to turn to God with prayer, especially in times of great doubt, suffering and need, Pope Francis said.

Jesus doesn’t want people to become numb to life’s problems and “extinguish” those things that make them human when they pray, the pope said Dec. 12 at his weekly general audience in the Paul VI audience hall.

“He does not want us to smother our questions and requests, learning to put up with everything. Instead, He wants every pain, every apprehension to rise up to heaven and become a dialogue” with God, the father, he said.

Continuing a series of audience talks on the Our Father, the pope reflected on the simplicity of the prayer and the way it addresses God with intimate familiarity.

With this prayer, Jesus shows an “audacious” way to address God immediately as “our Father” without any pomp and “preambles,” the pope said.

“He doesn’t say to turn to God calling Him ‘O, the All-Powerful’ or ‘O, the One on high,’ or ‘O, You who are so far from us and I am the wretched one ….’”

“No. He doesn’t say that, but simply (uses) the word, ‘Father,’ with great simplicity, like children who turn to their daddy. This word, ‘Father,’ expresses intimacy, filial trust,” he said.

The prayer invites people to pray in a way that “lets all the barriers of subjection and fear fall away,” he added.

While the Our Father is rooted in “the concrete reality” of every human being, prayer, in essence, begins with life itself.

“Our first prayer, in a certain way, was the first wail that came with our first breath” and it signals every human being’s destiny: “our continual hunger, our continual thirst, our constant search for happiness.”

Prayer is found wherever there is a deep hunger, longing, struggle and the question, “why?” Pope Francis said.

“Jesus does not want to extinguish (what is) human, He does not want to anesthetize” the person in prayer, he said. Jesus understands that having faith is being able to “cry out.”

“We all should be like Bartimaeus in the Gospel,” he said. This blind man in Jericho kept crying out to the Lord for help even though everyone around him told him to be quiet and not bother Jesus, who — they felt — ought not be disturbed because He was so busy.

Bartimaeus did not listen and only cried out louder “with holy insistence,” the pope said. Jesus listened to his plea and told him his faith saved him.

The pope said this shows how the cry for healing is an essential part of salvation, because it shows the person has faith and hope and is “free from the desperation of those who do not believe there is a way out of so many unbearable situations.”

“We can tell Him everything, even those things in our life that are distorted and beyond comprehension. He promised us that He would always be with us,” he said.


Pope: Prepare for Christ’s birth by recognizing mistakes, sowing peace

VATICAN CITY — Advent is a time for people to think about what they can change about themselves so that they can sow the seeds of peace, justice and fraternity in their daily lives, Pope Francis said.

The Advent season is a call for conversion, “humbly recognizing our mistakes, our infidelities, our failure” to do one’s duty, he said Dec. 9 before praying the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square.

Celebrating the second Sunday of Advent, the pope said the attitudes of vigilance and prayer that characterize the Advent season and preparations for Christmas include a journey of conversion.

“Let each one of us think, how can I change something about my behavior in order to prepare the way of the Lord?” the pope said.

Preparing the way entails making straight “His paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low,” the pope said, citing the day’s Gospel reading according to St. Luke.

The pope said to think of the valleys as being the result of indifference and cold-heartedness. Filling them, he said, requires reaching out to others — like Jesus did — with warmth and attentive care and concern for their needs.

Hills that need leveling, he said, are the bitter, harsh obstacles of pride and arrogance.

What is needed here is reconciliation and asking for forgiveness for one’s mistakes, he said. Even though taking the first step is not easy, “the Lord helps us in this, if we are of goodwill.”

“We cannot give up in the face of negative situations of closure and refusal,” he said; “we must not let ourselves be subdued by the world’s mindset because the center of our life is Jesus and His word of light, love and consolation.”

— Catholic News Service

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