Pope Francis said Sunday that silent prayer with the Gospel is the “secret to spiritual health.”
“Do we remember to listen to the Lord? We are Christians, but sometimes with the thousands of words we hear every day, we do not find a few seconds to let a few words of the Gospel resound in us,” the pope said in his Angelus address on Sept. 5.
“Jesus is the Word: if we do not stop to listen to Him, He passes on. ... But if we dedicate time to the Gospel, we will find the secret to our spiritual health.”
Speaking from the window of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, the pope told the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square that spending time in silence with the Gospel is like “medicine” for one’s spiritual life.
“Every day a little silence and listening, fewer useless words, and more of the Word of God,” Pope Francis recommended.
He said that it is a good thing to turn to the Lord with prayer requests, but above all, it is important to listen to the Lord.
“Jesus asks this of us. In the Gospel when they ask Him what is the first commandment, he answers: ‘Hear, O Israel.’ Then he adds ... 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart ... and your neighbor as yourself” (Mk 12:28-31). But first of all, he says, 'Hear, O Israel,’” the pope explained.
Pope Francis said that today many people have “an interior deafness” that Jesus can touch and heal. This “deafness of heart” can lead to a deadening of awareness of the needs of those around us, he said.
“Taken up with haste, by so many things to say and do, we cannot find time to stop and listen to those who speak to us. We run the risk of becoming impervious to everything and not making room for those who need to be heard. I am thinking about children, young people, the elderly, the many who have less need for words and preaching, and more to be heard,” Francis said.
“Let us ask ourselves: how is my capacity to listen? Am I touched by people’s lives, do I know how to spend time with those close to me?”
The pope said that this especially applies to priests, who need to be attentive to listening to the people in their parishes.
He said it also applies family life, where there can be a temptation to speak without really listening.
At the end of his Angelus address, the pope prayed for the people of Afghanistan that they may be able to "live with dignity."
"In these troubled times that see Afghans seeking refuge, I pray for the most vulnerable among them. I pray that many countries will welcome and protect those seeking a new life. I pray also for the internally displaced persons and that they may receive assistance and the necessary protection," the pope said.
"May young Afghans receive education, an essential good for human development. And may all Afghans, whether at home, in transit, or in host countries, live with dignity, in peace and fraternity with their neighbors."
"Jesus, I wish to be open to your Word ... Jesus, heal my heart from being closed, heal my heart from haste, heal my heart from impatience," the pope prayed.
“May the Virgin Mary, open to listening to the Word which became flesh in her, help us every day to listen to her Son in the Gospel and our brothers and sisters with a docile heart, with a patient heart, and with an attentive heart."
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.
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