Pope Benedict XVI has revealed the theme for his next series of weekly Wednesday audiences.
“I want to start a new series of catechesis on a subject that is very dear to us all: the topic of prayer,” he told pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square May 6.
Over the past two years Pope Benedict has been exploring the lives of the saints. That series of talks concluded last month. Hence the announcement of a new topic based on the request of the disciples to Christ, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).
“In the following reflections we will approach the Holy Scriptures and the great tradition of the Fathers of the Church as the masters of spirituality as well as the liturgy where we learn to live more intensely our relationship with the Lord as a ‘School of Prayer.’”
“Because we know that prayer cannot be taken for granted, we must learn to pray, as if gaining back this art. Even those who are very advanced in the spiritual life always feel the need to get to school to learn to pray to Jesus with authenticity.”
The Pope took pilgrims through the history of prayer. He noted that the need to pray has manifested itself in every culture in every period of history. He made particular reference to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome.
“Throughout time man has always prayed as he cannot help but wonder what is the meaning of his existence, which remains dark and depressing if not lived in connection with the mystery of God and his plan to the world.”
“Human life is a mix of good and evil, of undeserved suffering and joy and beauty, which spontaneously and irresistibly impels us to ask God for that light and inner-strength which comes to our aid here on Earth and open up a hope that goes beyond the boundaries of death.”
The impact of the papal catecheses delivered at Wednesday audiences can often be far reaching. Between 1979 and 1984 Pope John Paul II gave series of 129 lectures on the issue of human sexuality. These went on to form the basis of the “theology of the body.”