“Looking at recent history, the predictions of those who, from the age of Enlightenment, foretold the disappearance of religions and exalted absolute reason, separated from faith, have failed.”
This was the second in the Pope’s new series of Wednesday audiences focusing on prayer. For the past two years he had been examining the lives of the saints. That series concluded prior to Lent.
The Pope explained the source of man’s religious instincts. “(H)umanity bears within it a thirst for the infinite, a yearning for eternity, a search for beauty, a desire for love, a need for light and truth, which impel us toward the Absolute. We carry within us the desire for God. In some way, we know that we can turn to God, that we can pray to Him.
“Saint Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest theologians of history, defined prayer as ‘the expression of humanity’s desire for God’.”
Hence the impulse to pray. “In prayer, human beings experience themselves as creatures in need of help, incapable of attaining the fulfillment of their existence or their hopes alone. In the experience of prayer we orient our very souls to that Mystery from which we look for the fulfillment of our deepest desires and help to overcome the poverty of our lives.
“In looking to the Other, in directing ourselves ‘beyond’, is found the essence of prayer, the experience of a reality that goes beyond the apparent and the contingent,” the pontiff added.