Pope Francis explains "This is the mystery of Christian prayer...dialogue of love of the Most Holy Trinity." Full Text + Video


St. Peter's Square
Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Catechesis on the "Our Father": 16. Wherever you are, invoke the Father

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today we conclude the cycle of catechesis on the "Our Father". We can say that Christian prayer is born of the audacity to call God with the name of "Father". This is the root of Christian prayer: saying "Father" to God. But it takes courage! It is not a question of a formula, but of a filial intimacy in which we are introduced by grace: Jesus is the revealer of the Father and gives us familiarity with Him. "He does not leave us a formula to be mechanically repeated. As with any vocal prayer, it is through the Word of God that the Holy Spirit teaches the children of God to pray to their Father "(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2766). Jesus himself used different expressions to pray to the Father. If we read the Gospels carefully, we discover that these expressions of prayer that emerge on the lips of Jesus recall the text of the "Our Father".

For example, on the night of Gethsemane Jesus prays in this way: "Abba! Father! Everything is possible to you: remove this cup from me! But not what I want, but what you want "(Mk 14:36). We have already recalled this text of the Gospel of Mark. How can we fail to recognize in this prayer, however brief, a trace of the "Our Father"? In the midst of darkness, Jesus invokes God with the name of "Abbà", with filial trust and, while feeling fear and anguish, asks that his will be fulfilled.

In other passages of the Gospel Jesus insists with his disciples, so that they may cultivate a spirit of prayer. Prayer must be insistent, and above all it must bring the memory of the brothers, especially when we live difficult relationships with them. Jesus says: "When you begin to pray, if you have something against someone, forgive, because even your Father who is in heaven forgive you your faults" (Mk 11:25). How not to recognize in these expressions the assonance with the "Our Father"? And the examples could be numerous, even for us.

In the writings of Saint Paul we do not find the text of the "Our Father", but his presence emerges in that stupendous synthesis where the invocation of the Christian is condensed into a single word: "Abbà" (see Rom 8:15; Gal 4 , 6).

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus fully satisfies the request of the disciples who, seeing him often secluded and plunge into prayer, one day decide to ask him: "Lord, teach us to pray, as also John - the Baptist - taught his disciples" ( 11.1). And then the Master taught them the prayer to the Father.

Considering the New Testament as a whole, it is clear that the first protagonist of every Christian prayer is the Holy Spirit. But let's not forget this: the protagonist of every Christian prayer is the Holy Spirit. We could never pray without the strength of the Holy Spirit. It is He who prays in us and moves us to pray well. We can ask the Spirit to teach us to pray, because He is the protagonist, the one who does true prayer in us. He blows in the heart of each of us, who are disciples of Jesus. The Spirit enables us to pray as children of God, which we really are for Baptism. The Spirit makes us pray in the "furrow" that Jesus dug for us. This is the mystery of Christian prayer: by grace we are attracted to that dialogue of love of the Most Holy Trinity.

Jesus prayed like this. Sometimes he used expressions that are certainly very far from the text of the "Our Father". Think of the opening words of Psalm 22, which Jesus pronounces on the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mt 27:46). Can the heavenly Father abandon his Son? No, certainly. Yet the love for us, sinners, has brought Jesus to this point: to the point of experiencing the abandonment of God, his distance, because he has taken upon himself all our sins. But even in the anguished cry, the "my God, my God" remains. In that "mine" there is the nucleus of the relationship with the Father, there is the nucleus of faith and prayer.

This is why, starting from this nucleus, a Christian can pray in every situation. He can assume all the prayers of the Bible, especially of the Psalms; but he can also pray with so many expressions that in millennia of history have gushed from the hearts of men. And to the Father we never cease to tell of our brothers and sisters in humanity, because none of them, especially the poor, remain without a consolation and a portion of love.

At the end of this catechesis, we can repeat that prayer of Jesus: "I praise you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned and revealed them to the little ones" (Lk 10:21 ). To pray we must make ourselves small, so that the Holy Spirit may come into us and let him guide us in prayer.
Greetings in Various Languages:
Je suis heureux de saluer les pèlerins venus de France et d’autres pays francophones, en particulier des paroissiens d’Hérouville-Saint-Clair et de Roanne et des jeunes de divers collèges de France, ainsi qu’un groupe de pèlerins du Cameroun. Dans les situations de joie et de peine, que l’Esprit Saint nous aide à entrer dans la prière de Jésus, et avec lui, par lui et en lui, comme des enfants pleins de confiance, à prier “Notre Père”. Je voudrais aujourd’hui faire mémoire avec vous de Sœur Inès Nieves Sancho, âgée de 77 ans, éducatrice des jeunes filles pauvres depuis des années, qui a été tuée de manière barbare en Centrafrique, à l’endroit même où elle enseignait aux jeunes filles à coudre. Une femme de plus qui donne sa vie pour Jésus dans le service des pauvres. Prions en silence - [silence puis Ave Maria…] Que Dieu vous bénisse !
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially those from England, Belgium, Tanzania, New Zealand, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Canada and the United States of America. In the joy of the Risen Christ, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you all!
Von Herzen grüße ich die Pilger deutscher Sprache, insbesondere die Theologiestudierenden der Universitäten Innsbruck und Salzburg. Bitten wir den Heiligen Geist, uns in unserer Beziehung zum himmlischen Vater zu führen und zu stärken, indem wir seinem göttlichen Sohn Jesus, dem Herrn, treu folgen.
Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española venidos de España y Latinoamérica, como también a los peregrinos de la diócesis de Ebibeyin, Guinea Ecuatorial, acompañados por su Obispo. A todos los animo a que pidan al Señor la gracia de ser hombres y mujeres de oración, y que recuerden ante el Padre a todos nuestros hermanos y hermanas, especialmente a los más necesitados y abandonados, para que a ninguno falte consolación y amor. Que Dios los bendiga.
Dirijo uma cordial saudação aos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, nomeadamente ao grupo da “Rádio Renascença” e aos diversos grupos de brasileiros. São muitos hoje! Neste mês dedicado à Virgem Maria, buscai contemplar mais intensamente a face do Senhor Jesus com a oração do Terço, para que Ele seja o centro dos vossos pensamentos, das vossas ações, da vossa vida. Queria também saudar o Cardeal Falcão, Arcebispo emérito de Brasília, que está festejando o septuagésimo aniversário de ordenação sacerdotal! Um belo exemplo! Obrigado, Eminência, pelo seu testemunho.
أُرحّبُ بالحجّاجِ الناطقينَ باللّغةِ العربيّة، وخاصةً بالقادمينَ من الشرق الأوسط. أيّها الإخوةُ والأخواتُ الأعزّاء، أشجّعكم على أن تتوجّهوا إلى الله كأب يحبنا ويأتي إلى لقائنا. لا نتعبّنَّ أبدًا من التضرّع إليه لأنّه وكأب صالح يأتي ليشفي جراحنا ويعيد إلينا فرح أن نكون أبناءه. ليبارككم الرب!
[I warmly welcome the Arabic-speaking pilgrims, especially those from the Middle East! Dear brothers and sisters, I encourage you to turn to God as a Father who loves us and comes to meet us. Let us not grow tired of invoking Him, because He, as a good Father, comes to heal our wounds and give us back the joy of being his children. The Lord bless you!]
Serdecznie pozdrawiam polskich pielgrzymów. Drodzy bracia i siostry, ożywieni przez Ducha Świętego i zachęceni przykładem naszego Pana Jezusa Chrystusa, z dziecięcą ufnością i oddaniem módlmy się do Ojca niebieskiego za nas, za nasze rodziny, za Kościół i za całą ludzkość, aby dla wszystkich wypełniała się Jego zbawcza wola. Zawierzam was i waszych bliskich matczynej opiece Maryi Wspomożycielki wiernych i z serca wam błogosławię.
Сердечно вітаю українських паломників, а особливо групу військових, які брали участь у щорічному Національному Військовому Паломництві до Люрду.
Постійно молю Воскреслого Господа, щоб наповнив серця українців любов'ю та спокоєм і дарував свій мир усій Країнi. Нехай Господь Бог Благословить усіх Вас!
[I cordially greet the Ukrainian pilgrims, especially the group of soldiers who participated in the annual National Military Pilgrimage in Lourdes. I continually pray to the Risen Lord, so that he fills the hearts of the Ukrainians with love and serenity and gives his peace to the whole country. God bless you all!]
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I warmly welcome the Italian-speaking pilgrims.

I am pleased to welcome the participants in the meeting promoted by the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations; and the Sisters of Our Lady.

I greet the parish groups, in particular those of San Giuseppe Vesuviano and Vaglio di Basilicata; the Congolese Catholic Community of Rome; the Kairòs multisetting missionary association; the Italian Sports Center of Latina; and educational institutions, especially that of Giulianova Lido.

I am particularly interested in young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds.

Saint Rita of Cascia, of which today is the memory, was a woman, wife, mother, widow and nun of her time. Today's women, on her example, can express the same enthusiasm for life and, at the same time, be capable of the same love that she reserved for everyone unconditionally.


Next Friday, May 24, we will celebrate the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary "Help of Christians", particularly venerated in China at the Shrine of "Our Lady of Sheshan", near Shanghai.

This happy occasion allows me to express special closeness and affection to all Catholics in China, who, between daily trials and trials, continue to believe, to hope and to love.

Dear faithful in China, our Heavenly Mother will help you all to be witnesses of charity and fraternity, keeping you always united in the communion of the universal Church. I pray for you and I bless you.

Let us pray together with Our Lady: Hail Mary ...

FULL TEXT + Image Share from Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation