INTERNATIONAL POPE PRAYER WORLD MEETING (Apostolate of Prayer)
ON THE OCCASION OF THE 175th ANNIVERSARY
SPEECH OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
Paul VI Hall
Friday, June 28, 2019
Dear brothers and sisters,
Thank you for this visit! I take this opportunity to renew my gratitude for your commitment to prayer and apostolate in favor of the Church's mission. I also thank you for the testimonies, which I had read, otherwise I would not have understood in Chinese! And for this I will answer more or less or I will continue the reflection of all of you. Yours is a service that is as necessary as ever, which emphasizes the primacy of God in people's lives, fostering communion in the Church.
1. Father Matthew, who works in Taiwan, offered us interesting information about the version of Click to pray in Chinese. It is nice to know that the Chinese, beyond the difficulties of a different nature, can really feel united in prayer, finding in it a valid support in the knowledge and witness of the Gospel. Prayer always arouses feelings of fraternity, breaks down barriers, overcomes boundaries, creates invisible but real and effective bridges, opens horizons of hope.
2. Marie Dominique told us about the mission of the Apostolate of Prayer in France, where this reality arose 175 years ago. From his testimony we have understood that prayer intentions make the mission of Jesus in the world concrete. The Church, through her prayer network and the intentions she entrusts each month, speaks to the hearts of the men and women of our time. All of us, pastors, consecrated and lay faithful, we are called to place ourselves in the concrete history of the people who are near us especially praying for them, assuming their joys and sufferings in prayer. We will thus respond to the appeal of Jesus who asks us to open our hearts to our brothers, especially those who are tried in body and in spirit. It is important to talk about the brothers but there are two ways to talk about the brothers or to bless the brothers that is to speak well of the brothers or to chat, to talk about them. Chatting - in this sense - is a bad thing, not of Jesus. Jesus never chatted. Instead of talking, yes. And prayer is talking to Jesus about the brothers, saying: "Lord, for this problem, for this difficulty, for this situation ...". And this is a path of union, of community. Instead of talking about others is a path of destruction.
3. It is good, on this day of the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to remember the foundation of our mission, as did Bettina (Argentina). It is a mission of compassion for the world, we could say a "journey of the heart", that is, a prayerful journey that transforms people's lives. The Heart of Christ is so great that it wishes to welcome us all into the revolution of tenderness. The closeness to the Heart of the Lord urges our hearts to approach their brother with love, and helps to enter into this compassion for the world. We are called to be witnesses and messengers of God's mercy, to offer the world a perspective of light where darkness is, of hope where despair reigns, of salvation where sin abounds. To enter into prayer is to enter with my heart into the heart of Jesus, to make a way inside the heart of Jesus, what Jesus feels, the feelings of compassion of Jesus and also to make a journey inside my heart to change my heart in this relationship with the heart of Jesus.
4. The testimony of Sister Selam (Ethiopia) with the youth of the Youth Eucharistic Movement helps to contemplate the action of the Holy Spirit in that land. It is important to help the new generations grow in friendship with Jesus through an intimate encounter with him in prayer, in listening to his Word, approaching the Eucharist to be a gift of love to others. Personal or community prayer encourages us to spend ourselves in evangelization and urges us to seek the good of others. We must offer young people opportunities for interiority, moments of spirituality, schools of the Word, so that they can be enthusiastic missionaries in different environments. Thus they will discover that praying does not separate them from real life, but helps them to interpret existential events in the light of God. Teach children to pray. It pains me when I see so many children who don't even know how to make the sign of the cross. I say: "Make the sign of the cross" and do so [a confused gesture] ... They don't know. Teach children to pray. Because they immediately reach the heart of Jesus, immediately. Jesus wants them. And to young people, to teach that prayer is a great way to move forward in life. Thank you, Sister, for what you do. Thank you.
5. I was pleased to hear the enthusiasm of Diego (Guatemala) in fostering the encounter between grandparents and grandchildren in prayer for world peace and for the great challenges of today's humanity. Several generations meet in the Pope's prayer network; it's nice to think how grandparents can set an example to young people, telling them to walk the road of prayer. The wisdom of the elderly, their experience and ability to "reason" with the heart. Some might say, "But, father, you think with your head!" No, it is not true: it is reasoned with the head and with the heart, it is a capacity that we must develop. Ability to reason with the heart. And these experiences of the elderly constitute a precious teaching to learn a fruitful methodology in intercessory prayer. And this is a great prayer, that of intercession: "Lord, I ask you for this, I ask you for that other ...". And to intercede is what Jesus does in heaven, because the Bible tells us that Jesus is before the Father and intercedes for us, he is our intercessor, and we must imitate Jesus, be intercessors. Throughout history, the greatest men and women of God have been intercessors like Jesus. Intercede.
6. Finally, thanks to the testimony of Father Antonio (Portugal). He told us how the Apostolate of Prayer, entering the digital world, approaches the elderly and the young, helping them to give new vitality to the traditional apostolate of prayer. It is necessary for the Church's mission to adapt to the times and to use the modern tools that the technique makes available. It is a matter of entering into the modern areopagus to announce the mercy and goodness of God. However, care must be taken to use these means, especially the Internet, without becoming servants of the means. We must avoid becoming hostages of a network that takes us, instead of "catching fish", that is, attracting souls to bring them to the Lord.
I renew my sincere thanks to each of you for your precious activity, which flows from a heart that is truly attentive to others. The Apostolate of Prayer, with its worldwide network of prayer for the Pope and in communion with him, reminds us that the heart of the Church's mission is prayer. Be careful: the heart of the Church's mission is prayer. We can do many things, but without prayer the thing is not right. The heart is prayer. I encourage you to continue with joy in the awareness of the importance and necessity of your work. You help people to have a spiritual look, a look of faith on the reality that surrounds them, to recognize what God himself works in them; it's a great look of hope! Thank you very much!
I would also like to thank the Society of Jesus. It is thought that the Jesuits are the intellectuals, those who think ... But it was the Jesuits who created this prayer network. The Jesuits are men who pray, and this is great. And then, in a special way, I would like to thank the dedication and creativity of Father Fornos: thank you, brother!
Now we will have a moment of prayer all together, to signify the importance of this and to intercede all together addressed to Jesus. First of all we will do it in silence, everyone, everyone prays with his heart.
[prayer of the World Prayer Network]
And now we pray for the intentions that have been proposed by me to the whole Church for the month of July:
Let us pray for the priests, so that with the sobriety and humility of their lives they commit themselves to active solidarity, especially towards the poor. All together we say: "Let us pray". And in silence we pray ...
Let us pray that all those who administer justice work with integrity, and why injustice, which runs through the world, does not have the last word. Let's pray.
[Our Father and blessing]