He emphasized that how we pray and how we treat others are deeply connected.
“Those who adore God, love His children. Those who respect God, respect human beings,” he said.
“And so, prayer is not a sedative to alleviate life’s anxieties; or, in any case, this type of prayer is certainly not Christian. Rather, prayer makes each of us responsible.”
The pope suggested that if we want to learn to pray this way, the Psalms are a “tremendous school.” While they are often “intimate and personal,” the prayers were first used in the Temple in Jerusalem and later in synagogues.
He quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which says that “The Psalter’s many forms of prayer take shape both in the liturgy of the Temple and in the human heart.”
“And thus, personal prayer draws from and is nourished first by the prayer of the people of Israel, then by the prayer of the Church,” he explained.
He said: “Even the Psalms in the first person singular, which confide the most intimate thoughts and problems of an individual, are a collective patrimony, to the point of being prayed by everyone and for everyone.”
“The prayer of the Christian has this ‘breath,’ this spiritual ‘tension’ holding the temple and the world together. Prayer can begin in the penumbra of a church’s nave, but come to an end on the city streets. And vice versa, it can blossom during the day’s activities and reach its fulfillment in the liturgy. The church doors are not barriers, but permeable ‘membranes,’ willing to allow everyone’s groans in.”
The pope warned pilgrims that those who do not pray from the heart can begin to treat others with contempt.
“If you pray many rosaries each day but then gossip about others, and nourish grudges inside, if you hate others, this is truly artificial, it is not true,” he said.
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He continued: “Scripture acknowledges the case of the person who, even though he or she sincerely searches for God, never succeeds to encounter Him; but it also affirms that the tears of the poor can never be repudiated on pain of not encountering God.”
“God does not support the ‘atheism’ of those who repudiate the divine image that is imprinted in every human being. That everyday atheism: I believe in God but I keep my distance from others and I allow myself to hate others. This is practical atheism.”
“Not to recognize the human person as the image of God is a sacrilege, an abomination, the worst offense that can be directed toward the temple and the altar.”
He concluded: “Dear brothers and sisters, the prayers of the Psalms help us not to fall into the temptation of the ‘wicked,’ that is, of living, and perhaps also of praying, as if God does not exist, and as if the poor do not exist.”
In his greeting to Polish-speaking pilgrims, Pope Francis noted that Oct. 22 is the feast day of St. John Paul II, who served as pope from 1978 to 2005.