Pope Francis prays for elderly, alone and scared during coronavirus pandemic

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in Casa Santa Marta March 13 2020 Credit Vatican Media Pope Francis celebrates Mass in Casa Santa Marta March 13, 2020. | Vatican Media.

Pope Francis prayed Tuesday for the elderly, who are suffering from isolation, loneliness, and fear during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I would like us to pray today for the elderly who are suffering in this moment in a special way, with a very great interior solitude and sometimes with so much fear," the pope said March 17.

"Let us pray to the Lord [that he will] be close to our grandfathers, our grandmothers, all the elderly and give them strength," he added. "They gave us wisdom, life, history. We are also close to them with prayer."

Pope Francis is offering his daily Mass in the chapel of the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta guesthouse for those affected by the global coronavirus outbreak.

The Masses are being broadcast on television in Italy and streamed over the internet during a time when many places in the world have had to suspend public Masses due to coronavirus.

In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on Jesus' words to his disciples about forgiveness.

Jesus had just been preaching on unity and friendship, the pope said, when Peter asked what should be done when one of their brothers offends them, sins against them: "If my brother commits sins against me, he offends me, how many times will I have to forgive him? Seven times?"

Francis explained that Jesus' response to forgive "seventy times seven" means always. "You always have to forgive."

The pope noted that it is not easy to forgive; our hearts are selfish, and they become attached to hatred, revenge, grudges.

This is what the devil wants, he said. The devil wants hatred and grudges to grow, often over small things, to destroy everything.

But God forgives us completely and asks us to do the same, he said.

The pope also recalled Jesus' parable about the servant whose large debt is forgiven by his master, but who does not forgive the smaller debt owed to him.

"The parable Jesus tells us is very clear: forgive. May the Lord teach us this wisdom of forgiveness which is not easy," the pope urged.

Pope Francis advised people to think about forgiveness when they go to Mass and when they go to the sacrament of confession, asking themselves: "Do I forgive?"

He said "asking for forgiveness means forgiving. They are together, both."

"May the Lord help us understand this and to lower our heads, not to be proud, to be magnanimous in forgiveness," he prayed.

"Forgive, because if I do not forgive, I will not be forgiven."

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