Pope outlines power of the Holy Spirit in prayer

Pope Benedict XVI in St Peters Square April 18 2012 CNA Vatican Catholic News 4 18 12 Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Square, April 18, 2012.

Pope Benedict XVI says Christians should avail themselves to the Holy Spirit in prayer – particularly when they cannot find the words or inspiration to pray.  

“St. Paul teaches us that in our prayer we must open ourselves to the presence and action of the Holy Spirit, who prays in us with inexpressible groanings, to bring us to adhere to God with our whole heart and with all our being,” the Pope said May 16. 

“The Spirit of Christ becomes the strength of our ‘weak’ prayer, the light of our ‘dimmed’ prayer, the focus of our ‘dry’ prayer, giving us true inner freedom, teaching us to live by facing our trials, in the certainty we are not alone.”

Continuing his weekly catechesis on Christian prayer, Pope Benedict XVI used this week’s General Audience to explore the theme of prayer in the Letters of St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, in the New Testament.

He told over 11,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square to take on board the advice of St. Paul to turn to the Holy Spirit when “we want to pray, but God is far away, we do not have the words, the language to talk with God, not even the thought.”

It is then, said the Pope, that “we can only open ourselves up, make time available for God” knowing that this mere desire to get in touch with God “is prayer that the Holy Spirit not only understands, but it brings, interprets before God.”

“In prayer we experience, more than in other dimensions of existence, our weakness, our poverty, our being creatures, because we are faced with the omnipotence and transcendence of God,” said Pope Benedict.

It is therefore the Holy Spirit “who helps our inability, enlightens our minds and warms our hearts, guiding our turning to God.”

The Pope concluded his observations by highlighting three consequences of allowing “the Spirit of Christ as an inner principle of all our actions.”

First of all “we are enabled to abandon and overcome every form of fear or slavery, experiencing the
true freedom of the children of God.”

This freedom is not identified by St. Paul as the possibility of choosing evil which, said the Pope, leads to “alienation of human beings” and “the destruction of our freedom.” Instead the freedom espoused by the Apostle is a “true freedom” that allows us “to really follow our desire for good” and “not be overwhelmed by the circumstances that lead us in other directions.”

This freedom manifests itself in the “fruits of the Spirit” which are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

A second consequence is that “our relationship with God becomes so deep that it is not be impacted by any reality or situation.” Therefore we are not freed from trial or suffering in our prayer but “we can live them in union with Christ, his sufferings, with a view to participating in his glory.”

This should encourage us whenever we have the impression of “not being listened to and then we risk losing heart and perseverance,” as in reality “there is no human cry that is not heard by God.”

The third and final outcome of reliance on the Holy Spirit is that “the prayer of the believer is also open to the dimensions of humanity and all of creation.” This sees prayer “open to the sharing the sufferings of our time, of others.”

The Pope then concluded his audience with the recitation of the Eastertide Marian anthem, the Regina Coeli, before imparting his Apostolic Blessing.

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