The evening vespers are a prayer, which expresses the trust that we have in God and which reminds us to place our existence in His hands, Pope John Paul II told a general audience at St. Peter’s Square today.
The pope took the occasion today to expound on his catechism of the evening vespers, which he had begun last week.
“Vespers, or evening prayer, evokes the evening sacrifice of incense offered in the Temple of Jerusalem, and the hour when Christ lay in the tomb, having offered himself to the Father for the salvation of the world,” said the pontiff.
As part of his instruction, the pope spoke about the different parts of the evening prayer and explained their significance.
The prayer begins with the invocation Deus in adiutorium, the second verse of Psalm 69, prescribed by St. Benedict, which reminds the faithful that only God can give us the grace to praise Him well, said the pope. The Gloria follows the invocation, because “the glorification of the Trinity expresses the essential orientation of all Christian prayer,” he said. The Alleluia that follows is a joyful expression of the trust we place in God for his protection, he continued.
The pope also explained the numerous themes of the Psalms that make up the evening prayer. One theme is light. Another theme is trust in God. A third theme is thanks. A fourth theme expresses the “eschatological sense evoked by the end of the day”, yet other psalms express wisdom or have penitential intonations.
The purpose of the brief reading from the New Testament, which is followed by silence to facilitate the internalization of its message, is to “propose a biblical phrase with strength and incisiveness and to imprint it on hearts so that it can be truly lived,” explained the pope.
“The moving sequence of Psalms, scriptural canticles, readings and intercessions concludes with the Lord's Prayer, the perfect expression of the Church's praise of God, and a final prayer which invokes the fruits of Christ's saving sacrifice upon the whole world,” he concluded.
At the end of the general audience, the pope made a call for peace in Bolivia. He also greeted the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chambéry, the delegation of Paramount Chiefs from Sierra Leone and the members of the Euro-American Urological Association.