.- Dads who are absent from their family make it more difficult for their children to understand God as a loving father, Pope Benedict XVI said on May 23.
âPerhaps modern man does not perceive the beauty, grandeur and profound consolation contained in the word âfatherâ with which we can turn to God in prayer, because the father figure is often not sufficiently present in todayâs world, and is often not a sufficiently positive presence in everyday life,â the Pope said in his weekly general audience address.
He underscored that the âthe problem of a father not present in the life of the child is a big problem of our timeâ because it can become difficult for those children âto understand in its depth what it means to us that God is Father.â
In the U.S., over one-third of all children live apart from their biological father.
The Pope delivered his remarks to over 20,000 pilgrims in St. Peterâs Square. His reflections, which today focused on two passages from St. Paul on the Holy Spirit enabling people to call upon God with the intimate term âAbba,â continued his series on the role of prayer in the story of salvation.
In his letter to the Galatians, St. Paul wrote that âAs proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his son into our hearts, crying out, âAbba, Father!ââ St. Paul also wrote to the Romans, âyou did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, âAbba, Father!ââ
Pope Benedict noted that the familial Aramaic word âAbbaâ is also used by Jesus âeven at the most dramatic moment of his earthly life,â thus demonstrating that he ânever lost faith in the Father and always invoked him with the intimacy of a beloved son.â
Similarly, through baptism, every Christian also becomes a beloved son or daughter of God, âsharing by adoption in the eternal sonship of Jesus.â
In the selected passages, the Pope explained, St. Paul also demonstrates that âChristian prayer is never unidirectional, from us to God.â Instead, it is âan expression of a reciprocal relationship in which it is always God who acts first.â
Therefore, whenever we address the Father in prayer, even silently or privately, we are never alone, since âwe are within the great prayer of the Church, we are part of a great symphony which the Christian community in all places and times raises to God,â he said.
It is this âprayer guided by the Spiritâ that causes Christians to cry out âAbba! Father!â both âwith Christ and in Christ,â Pope Benedict taught.
âIt makes us part of the great mosaic of the family of God, in which everyone has an important place and role, profoundly united to all things.â
The Pope concluded his address by suggesting to pilgrims that they should âlearn to appreciate the beauty of being friends, or rather children, of God,â and to invoke God the Father in prayer âwith the confidence and trust of a child addressing his parents who love him.â
He then led those present in the sung recitation Our Father in Latin before imparting his apostolic blessing.