Pope Francis says "The power of prayer brings light into situations of darkness." FULL TEXT + Video from Vatican
POPE FRANCIS at the GENERAL AUDIENCE
in Paul VI Audience Hall - Wednesday, 26 January 2021
Catechesis on Saint Joseph: 9. Saint Joseph, a man who "dreams"
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today I would like to focus on the figure of St Joseph as a man who dreams. In the Bible, as in the cultures of ancient peoples, dreams were considered a means by which God revealed himself.
The dream symbolises the spiritual life of each of us, that inner space that each of us is called to cultivate and guard, where God manifests himself and often speaks to us. But we must also say that within each of us there is not only the voice of God: there are many other voices. For example, the voices of our fears, the voices of past experiences, the voices of hopes; and there is also the voice of the evil one who wants to deceive and confuse us. It is therefore important to be able to recognise the voice of God in the midst of other voices. Joseph demonstrates that he knows how to cultivate the necessary silence and, above all, how to make the right decisions before the Word that the Lord addresses to him inwardly. Today, it will be good for us to take up the four dreams in the Gospel which have him as their protagonist, in order to understand how to place ourselves before God's revelation. The Gospel tells us of four dreams of Joseph.
In the first dream (cf. Mt 1:18-25), the angel helps Joseph to resolve the drama that assails him when he learns of Mary's pregnancy: “Do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (vv. 20-21). And his response was immediate: “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him” (v. 24). Life often puts us in situations that we do not understand and that seem to have no solution. Praying in these moments — this means letting the Lord show us the right thing to do. In fact, very often it is prayer that gives us the intuition of the way out. Dear brothers and sisters, the Lord never allows a problem to arise without also giving us the help we need to deal with it. He does not cast us alone into the fire. He does not cast us among the beasts. No. When the Lord shows us a problem, or reveals a problem, he always gives us the intuition, the help, his presence, to get out of it, to resolve it.
And the second revealing dream of Joseph comes when the life of the child Jesus is in danger. The message is clear: “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him” (Mt 2:13). Joseph obeyed without hesitation: “He rose and took the child and his mother by night,” the Gospel says, “and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod” (vv. 14-15). In life we all experience dangers that threaten our existence or the existence of those we love. In these situations, praying means listening to the voice that can give us the same courage as Joseph, to face difficulties without succumbing.
In Egypt, Joseph waited for a sign from God that he could return home, and this is the content of the third dream. The angel reveals to him that those who wanted to kill the Child are dead and orders him to leave with Mary and Jesus and return to his homeland (cf. Mt 2:19-20). Joseph “rose” the Gospel says, “and took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel” (v. 21). But on the return journey, “when he heard that Archelaus reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there” (v. 22). Here then is the fourth revelation: “Being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth” (vv. 22-23). Fear is also part of life and it too needs our prayer. God does not promise us that we will never have fear, but that, with His help, it will not be the criterion for our decisions. Joseph experiences fear, but God also guides him through it. The power of prayer brings light into situations of darkness.
I am thinking at this moment of so many people who are crushed by the weight of life and can no longer hope or pray. May St Joseph help them to open themselves to dialogue with God in order to find light, strength, and peace.
And I am thinking, too, of parents in the face of their children’s problems: Children with many illnesses, children who are sick, even with permanent maladies. — how much pain is there! — parents who see different sexual orientations in their children; how to deal with this and accompany their children and not hide in an attitude of condemnation. Parents who see their children leaving because of an illness, and also — even sadder, we read about it every day in the newspapers — children who get into mischief and end up in a car accident. Parents who see their children not progressing in school and don't know how... So many parental problems. Let's think about it: how to help them. And to these parents I say: don't be scared. Yes, there is pain. A lot. But think of the Lord, think about how Joseph solved the problems and ask Joseph to help you. Never condemn a child.
It fills me with compassion — it did in Buenos Aires — when I got on the bus and it passed in front of the prison. There was a queue of people who had to go in to visit the prisoners. And there were mothers there. And I was so touched by this mother who, faced with the problem of a son who has made a mistake and is in prison, doesn’t leave him alone, puts her face forward and accompanies him. This courage; the courage of a father and mother who always, always accompany their children. Let us ask the Lord to give this courage to all fathers and mothers, as he gave it to Joseph. And to pray, no? Pray that the Lord will help us in these moments.
Prayer, however, is never an abstract or purely internal gesture, like these spiritualist movements that are more gnostic than Christian. No, it’s not that. Prayer is always inextricably linked to charity. It is only when we combine prayer with love, the love for children in the cases I just mentioned, or the love for our neighbour, that we are able to understand the Lord's messages. Joseph prayed, worked, and loved — three beautiful things for parents: to pray, to work, and to love — and because of this he always received what he needed to face life's trials. Let us entrust ourselves to him and to his intercession.
St Joseph, you are the man who dreams,
teach us to recover the spiritual life
as the inner place where God manifests Himself and saves us.
Remove from us the thought that praying is useless;
help each one of us to correspond to what the Lord shows us.
May our reasoning be illuminated by the light of the Spirit,
our hearts encouraged by His strength
and our fears saved by His mercy. Amen.
Tomorrow is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is necessary to remember the extermination of millions of Jews, and people of different nationalities and religious faiths. This unspeakable cruelty must never be repeated. I appeal to everyone, especially educators and families, to foster in the new generations an awareness of the horror of this black page of history. It must not be forgotten, so that we can build a future where human dignity is no longer trampled underfoot.
* * *
I extend a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. In particular, I greet the fire brigade of Potenza and the representatives of the Serie B National Football League.
Finally, my thoughts go - as usually - to the elderly, the sick, the young and newlyweds. Today the liturgy commemorates Saints Timothy and Titus who, trained in the school of the apostle Paul, proclaimed the Gospel with tireless ardor. May their example encourage you to live the Christian vocation in a coherent way, finding in the Lord the strength to face the difficulties of life.
And I allow myself to explain to you that today I will not be able to come among you to greet you, because I have a problem in my right leg; there is an inflamed ligament in the knee. But I will go down and greet you there and you come by to greet me. It is a passing thing. They say this only comes to old people, and I don't know why it came to me ...
To all always my blessing.
Before the Our Father
And now, with the Our Father, I invite you to pray for peace in Ukraine, and to do it often during this day: we ask the Lord with insistence that that land may see fraternity flourish and overcome wounds, fears and divisions. We talked about the holocaust. But think that [also in Ukraine] millions of people have been annihilated [1932-1933]. It is a suffering people; he suffered from hunger, he suffered so much cruelty and deserves peace. May the prayers and invocations that today rise up to heaven touch the minds and hearts of those responsible on earth, so that they make dialogue prevail and the good of all is put before partisan interests. Please, never war.
Let us pray for peace with the Our Father: it is the prayer of children who turn to the same Father, it is the prayer that makes us brothers, it is the prayer of brothers who implore reconciliation and harmony.
Je salue cordialment les personnes de langue française. Frères et sœurs, de nombreuses personnes et familles écrasées par le poids de la vie, particulièrement en cette période de pandémie, ne réussissent plus à espérer ni à prier. Que notre proximité et notre solidarité les aident à s'ouvrir au dialogue avec Dieu, pour retrouver lumière, force et espérance. Que Dieu vous bénisse!
[ I cordially greet the French-speaking faithful. Brothers and sisters, many people and families crushed by the weight of life, especially in this pandemic period, are no longer able to hope and pray. May our closeness and our solidarity help them to open up to dialogue with God, to rediscover light, strength and hope. God bless you! ]
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today's Audience, particularly those from the United States of America. Today, I especially ask you to join in praying for peace in Ukraine. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the Lord's blessings of joy and peace. God bless you!
[ I greet the English-speaking pilgrims present at today's audience, especially those from the United States of America. In particular, today I invite you to pray for peace in Ukraine. Upon all of you, and upon your families, I invoke the joy and peace of the Lord. God bless you! ]
Einen herzlichen Gruß richte ich an die Gläubigen deutscher Sprache. Das Vorbild des heiligen Josef lehre uns, die Stimme der Engel von der der bösen Geister zu unterscheiden, damit wir in unserem Leben immer den Willen des Herrn erkennen und tun können.
[ I address a cordial greeting to the German-speaking faithful. May the example of St. Joseph teach us to discern the voice of angels from that of evil spirits, so that in our lives we can always recognize and carry out the will of the Lord .]
I cordially greet los peregrinos de lengua española. Por intercesión de san José, maestro de vida interior, pidamos al Señor que nos grant a corazón orante y misionero, abierto al diálogo with Él y disponible para ayudar a los hermanos y hermanas que más lo necesitan. Que Dios los bendiga. Muchas gracias.
Caros peregrinos de língua portuguesa, as minhas cordiais boas-vindas. Lembrai-vos semper de agradecer a Deus o dom da proximidade of him que nos permite sonhar um mundo novo and construí-lo to depart from Palavra de vida of him. São José nos ajude a não nos cansarmos jamais da oração, source de alívio and coragem no nosso caminho. Que a Bênção do Senhor desça sobre todos vós!
[ Dear Portuguese-speaking pilgrims, I extend a cordial welcome to all. Always remember to thank God for the gift of closeness to him which allows us to dream of a new world and to build it starting from his Word of life. Saint Joseph help us never to tire of prayer, a source of relief and courage on our journey. May the Blessing of the Lord descend upon you! ]
أُحَيِّي المُؤْمِنينَ الناطِقِينَ باللُّغَةِ العربِيَّة. الصَّلاةُ هِيَ دائِمًا وَبِصُورَةٍ لا تَنْفَصِلُ مُرْتَبِطَةٌ بالمَحَبَّة. عندما نضم محبة القريب إلى صلاتنا, كما فعل يوسف مع مريم ويسوع, إذاك يمكننا أن نفهم رسائل الله لنا لمواجهة محن الحياة. بارَكَكُم الرَّبُّ جَمِيعًا وَحَماكُم دائِمًا مِنْ كُلِّ شَرّ!
[ I greet the Arabic-speaking faithful. Prayer is always inextricably linked to charity. When we combine love of neighbor in prayer, as Joseph did with Mary and Jesus, we are able to understand the messages of the Lord to face the trials of life. The Lord bless you all and always protect you from all evil! ]
Serdecznie pozdrawiam pielgrzymów polskich. Doświadczając w życiu, jak św. Józef, sytuacji, których nie rozumiemy, które zagrażają naszej egzystencji, pamiętajmy, że Bóg nie pozwala na pojawienie się problemu bez udzielenia nam stosownej pomocy. Nasza modlitwa może wskazać nam drogi wyjścia. W chwilach trudności, niebezpieczeństw, lęków, cierpienia, umiejmy zawierzyć wszystko dobremu Bogu. Dzisiaj szczególnie modlimy się za Ukrainę. Z serca wam błogosławię.
[ I cordially greet the Polish pilgrims. Experiencing in life, like Saint Joseph, the various situations that we do not understand and that threaten our existence, we remember that God never confronts us with difficulties without also giving us the necessary help to face them. Our prayer can point the way out. In moments of difficulties, dangers, sufferings, we entrust everything to the Good Lord. Today we pray in particular for Ukraine. I bless you from my heart .]
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