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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Prayer in the Letters of St. Paul

Vatican City, 16 May 2012 (VIS) - After having examined prayer in the Acts of the Apostles, Benedict XVI announced that he will dedicate his next series of catechesis to prayer in the Letters of St. Paul, which always begin and end with an expression of prayer and which have given us a rich range of forms of prayer.

In Wednesday's general audience, celebrated in St. Peter's Square before more than 11,000 people, the Pope explained that the Apostle to the Gentiles wants us to understand that prayer "should not be seen as a simple good deed made to God, an action of our own. It is above all a gift, fruit of the living [and] revitalizing presence of the Father and of Jesus Christ in us".

When we pray we feel "our weakness ... our creatureliness, because we find ourselves before God's omnipotence and transcendence ... and we perceive our limitations ... and the necessity to trust ever more in Him". This then is when "the Holy Spirit helps us in our incapacity ... and guides us to turn toward God". Prayer, therefore, is mainly "the action of the Holy Spirit in our humanity that takes charge of our weakness and transforms us from persons who are bound to material reality into spiritual persons".

Among the effects of the action of the Spirit of Christ as the internal principle of all our acts, the Holy Father observed first that "prayer inspired by the Spirit gives us the possibility to abandon and overcome all forms of fear or slavery, living the true freedom of the children of God". Another consequence is that "our relationship with God becomes so deep that it is no longer affected by deeds or situations. We understand that prayer doesn't free us from trials or tribulations but we can live them in union with Christ, with His suffering, in view of also participating in His glory".

"Many times", the Pope said, "we ask God to deliver us from physical and spiritual evil ... however, we often have the impression that He doesn't hear us and we run the risk of becoming discouraged and of not persevering. In reality, there is no human cry that God does not hear. ... God the Father's answer to His son was not the immediate freedom from suffering, from the cross, or from death: through the cross and His death, God answered with the Resurrection".

Finally, "a believer's prayer, if open to the human dimension and to creation as a whole ...does not remain locked in on itself. It opens itself to share in the suffering of our time. It is thus converted into ... the channel of hope for all of creation and an expression of God's love that is poured into our hearts by means of the Spirit".

The apostle, the Holy Father concluded, teaches us that when we pray "we have to open ourselves to the presence and the action of the Holy Spirit ... in order to turn ourselves to God with our whole heart and our whole being. Christ's Spirit becomes the strength of our our 'weak' prayer, the light of our 'dim' prayer, ... teaching us to live while facing the trials of existence, in the certainty that we are not alone, opening ourselves to the horizons of humanity and the creation that 'is groaning in labour pains'".

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