Addressing pilgrims via livestream, the pope said: “Unfortunately, we’ve had to return to holding this audience in the library, to defend ourselves against contagion from COVID.”
“This also teaches us that we must be very attentive to the prescriptions of the authorities, both political authorities and health authorities, to defend ourselves against this pandemic.”
He continued: “Let us offer to the Lord this distance between us, for the good of all, and let us think, let us think a lot about the sick, about those who are already marginalized when they enter hospital. Let us think of the doctors, the nurses, the volunteers, the many people who work with the sick at this time. They risk their lives but they do so out of love, love of neighbor, as a vocation. Let us pray for them.”
In his address, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on prayer, which he began in May and resumed in October after a series of audiences devoted to the coronavirus crisis beginning in August.
The pope observed that Jesus’ public life was sustained by solitary prayer.
“There is, therefore, a secret in Jesus’ life, hidden from human eyes, which is the fulcrum of everything else. Jesus’ prayer is a mysterious reality, of which we have a slight intuition, but which allows us to interpret His entire mission from the right perspective,” he said.
He recalled an episode in the town of Capernaum, recorded in Mark 1:35-38, when Jesus spent an evening healing the sick. In the morning, he rose early and withdrew to a deserted place to pray. When his disciples found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you,” to which Jesus replied, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.”
The pope commented: “Prayer was the rudder that guides Jesus’ course. It was not success, it was not consensus, it was not the seductive phrase ‘Everyone is searching for you,’ that dictated the stages of His mission.”
He said that Jesus’ example revealed four essential characteristics of Christian prayer.
First, Jesus shows that prayer must come before all else.
He said: “First and foremost, it possesses primacy: it is the first desire of the day, something that is practiced at dawn, before the world awakens. It restores a soul to that which otherwise would be without breath. A day lived without prayer risks being transformed into a bothersome or tedious experience: all that happens to us could turn into a badly endured and blind fate. ”
When we put prayer first, daily trials turn into opportunities to grow in faith and charity, he explained.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
“Prayer has the power to transform into good what in life could otherwise be condemnation; prayer has the power to open the mind and broaden the heart to a great horizon,” he said.
Second, Jesus shows the importance of persistence in prayer.
Third, Christ prayed in solitude, indicating that we should also retreat daily to “deserted places” to pray.
“There, in silence, many voices can emerge that we hide in our innermost selves: the most repressed desires, the truths that we insist on suffocating, and so on. And, above all, in silence God speaks,” he said.
“Every person needs a space for him- or herself, to be able to cultivate the inner life, where actions find meaning. Without the inner life we become superficial, agitated, and anxious -- how anxiety harms us! This is why we must go to pray; without an inner life we flee from reality, and we also flee from ourselves, we are men and women always on the run.”
Fourth and finally, Jesus shows that prayer enables us to see our dependence on God.