Audiences 2005-2013 22061

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In recent catecheses we have reflected on some of the Old Testament figures who are particularly significant for our reflection on prayer. I have talked about Abraham, who interceded for foreign cities, about Jacob, who in his nocturnal struggle received the blessing, about Moses, who invoked forgiveness for his people and about Elijah, who prayed for the conversion of Israel.

With today’s catechesis I would like to begin a new stretch of the journey: instead of commenting on specific episodes of people praying, we shall enter “the book of prayer” par excellence, the Book of Psalms. In the forthcoming catecheses we shall read and meditate on several of the most beautiful Psalms that are dearest to the Church’s tradition of prayer. Today I would like to introduce them by talking about the Book of Psalms as a whole.

The Psalter appears as a “formulary” of prayers, a collection of 150 Psalms which the Biblical Tradition offers the people of believers so that they become their and our prayer, our way of speaking and of relating to God. This Book expresses the entire human experience with its multiple facets and the whole range of sentiments that accompany human existence.

In the Psalms are expressed and interwoven with joy and suffering, the longing for God and the perception of our own unworthiness, happiness and the feeling of abandonment, trust in God and sorrowful loneliness, fullness of life and fear of death. The whole reality of the believer converges in these prayers. The People of Israel first and then the Church adopted them as a privileged mediation in relations with the one God and an appropriate response to God’s self revelation in history.

Since the Psalms are prayers they are expressions of the heart and of faith with which everyone can identify and in which that experience of special closeness to God — to which every human being is called — is communicated. Moreover the whole complexity of human life is distilled in the complexity of the different literary forms of the various Psalms: hymns, laments, individual entreaties and collective supplications, hymns of thanksgiving, penitential psalms, sapiential psalms and the other genres that are to be found in these poetic compositions.

Despite this multiplicity of expression, two great areas that sum up the prayer of the Psalter may be identified: supplication, connected to lamentation, and praise. These are two related dimensions that are almost inseparable since supplication is motivated by the certainty that God will respond, thus opening a person to praise and thanksgiving; and praise and thanksgiving stem from the experience of salvation received; this implies the need for help which the supplication expresses.

In his supplication the person praying bewails and describes his situation of anguish, danger or despair or, as in the penitential Psalms, he confesses his guilt, his sin, asking forgiveness. He discloses his needy state to the Lord, confident that he will be heard and this involves the recognition of God as good, as desirous of goodness and as one who “loves the living” (cf.
Sg 11,26), ready to help, to save and to forgive. In this way, for example, the Psalmist in Psalm 31[30] prays: “In you, O Lord, do I seek refuge; let me never be put to shame... take me out of the net which is hidden for me, for you are my refuge” (Ps 31,2 Ps 31,5). In the lamentation, therefore, something like praise, which is foretold in the hope of divine intervention, can already emerge, and it becomes explicit when divine salvation becomes a reality.

Likewise in the Psalms of thanksgiving and praise, recalling the gift received or contemplating the greatness of God’s mercy, we also recognize our own smallness and the need to be saved which is at the root of supplication. In this way we confess to God our condition as creatures, inevitably marked by death, yet bearing a radical desire for life. The Psalmist therefore exclaims in Psalm 86 [85]: “I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name for ever. For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol” (Ps 86,12-13). In the prayer of the Psalms, supplication and praise are interwoven in this manner and fused in a single hymn that celebrates the eternal grace of the Lord who stoops down to our frailty.

It was precisely in order to permit the people of believers to join in this hymn that the Psalter was given to Israel and to the Church. Indeed the Psalms teach how to pray. In them, the word of God becomes a word of prayer — and they are the words of the inspired Psalmist — which also becomes the word of the person who prays the Psalms.

This is the beauty and the special characteristic of this Book of the Bible: the prayers it contains, unlike other prayers we find in Sacred Scripture, are not inserted in a narrative plot that specifies their meaning and role. The Psalms are given to the believer exactly as the text of prayers whose sole purpose is to become the prayer of the person who assimilates them and addresses them to God. Since they are a word of God, anyone who prays the Psalms speaks to God using the very words that God has given to us, addresses him with the words that he himself has given us. So it is that in praying the Psalms we learn to pray. They are a school of prayer.

Something similar happens when a child begins to speak, namely, he learns how to express his own feelings, emotions, and needs with words that do not belong to him innately but that he learns from his parents and from those who surround him. What the child wishes to express is his own experience, but his means of expression comes from others; and little by little he makes them his own, the words received from his parents become his words and through these words he also learns a way of thinking and feeling, he gains access to a whole world of concepts and in it develops and grows, and relates to reality, to people and to God. In the end his parents’ language has become his language, he speaks with words he has received from others but which have now become his own.

This is what happens with the prayer of the Psalms. They are given to us so that we may learn to address God, to communicate with him, to speak to him of ourselves with his words, to find a language for the encounter with God. And through those words, it will also be possible to know and to accept the criteria of his action, to draw closer to the mystery of his thoughts and ways (cf. Is 55,8-9), so as to grow constantly in faith and in love.

Just as our words are not only words but teach us a real and conceptual world, so too these prayers teach us the heart of God, for which reason not only can we speak to God but we can learn who God is and, in learning how to speak to him, we learn to be a human being, to be ourselves.

In this regard the title which the Jewish tradition has given to the Psalter is significant. It is called tehillîm, a Hebrew word which means “praise”, from the etymological root that we find in the expression “Alleluia”, that is, literally “praised be the Lord”. This book of prayers, therefore, although it is so multiform and complex with its different literary genres and its structure alternating between praise and supplication, is ultimately a book of praise which teaches us to give thanks, to celebrate the greatness of God’s gift, to recognize the beauty of his works and to glorify his holy Name. This is the most appropriate response to the Lord’s self manifestation and to the experience of his goodness.

By teaching us to pray, the Psalms teach us that even in desolation, even in sorrow, God’s presence endures, it is a source of wonder and of solace; we can weep, implore, intercede and complain, but in the awareness that we are walking toward the light, where praise can be definitive. As Psalm 36[35] teaches us: “with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light” (Ps 36,10 [35]:10).

However, in addition to this general title of the book, the Jewish tradition has given many Psalms specific names, attributing most of them to King David. A figure of outstanding human and theological depth, David was a complex figure who went through the most varied fundamental experiences of life. When he was young he was a shepherd of his father’s flock, then passing through chequered and at times dramatic vicissitudes, he became King of Israel and pastor of the People of God. A man of peace, he fought many wars; unflagging and tenacious in his quest for God, he betrayed God’s love and this is characteristic: he always remained a seeker of God even though he sinned frequently and seriously. As a humble penitent he received the divine pardon, accepted the divine punishment and accepted a destiny marked by suffering. Thus David with all his weaknesses was a king “after the heart of God” (cf. 1S 13,14), that is, a passionate man of prayer, a man who knew what it meant to implore and to praise. The connection of the Psalms with this outstanding King of Israel is therefore important because he is a messianic figure, an Annointed One of the Lord, in whom, in a certain way, the mystery of Christ is foreshadowed.

Equally important and meaningful are the manner and frequency with which the words of the Psalms are taken up in the New Testament, assuming and accentuating the prophetic value suggested by the connection of the Psalter with the messianic figure of David. In the Lord Jesus, who in his earthly life prayed with the Psalms, they were definitively fulfilled and revealed their fullest and most profound meaning.

The prayers of the Psalter with which we speak to God, speak to us of him, speak to us of the Son, an image of the invisible God (Col 1,15), which fully reveals to us the Father’s Face. Christians, therefore, in praying the Psalms pray to the Father in Christ and with Christ, assuming those hymns in a new perspective which has in the paschal mystery the ultimate key to its interpretation. The horizon of the person praying thus opens to unexpected realities, every Psalm acquires a new light in Christ and the Psalter can shine out in its full infinite richness.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us therefore take this holy book in our hands, let us allow God to teach us to turn to him, let us make the Psalter a guide which helps and accompanies us daily on the path of prayer. And let us too ask, as did Jesus’ disciples, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lc 11,1), opening our hearts to receive the Teacher’s prayer, in which all prayers are brought to completion. Thus, made sons in the Son, we shall be able to speak to God calling him “Our Father”. Many thanks.

To special groups:

I welcome the participants in the Congress of the European Society of Clinical Neurophysiology, with good wishes for their deliberations. I greet the Catholic educators from Canada and the United States meeting in Rome. I also greet the officers of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. My welcome goes to the American seminarians taking part in a study programme in Rome, and to the novices of the Missionaries of Charity. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims, especially those from England, Scotland, Sweden, Indonesia and the United States, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.

I now greet the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. May the example and intercession of St Aloysius Gonzaga, whom we commemorated yesterday spur you, dear young people, to make the most of the virtue of evangelical purity; may they help you, dear sick people, to face suffering finding comfort in the crucified Christ; may they lead you, dear newlyweds, to an ever deeper love for God and tomorrow, the feast of Corpus Christi, we will celebrate Holy Mass at 7:00 p.m. at St John Lateran, as we do every year. Afterwards the solemn procession along Via Merulana will end at St Mary Major’s. I invite the faithful of Rome and the pilgrims to join in this act of profound faith in the Eucharist, which is the most precious treasure of the Church and of humanity.

Castel Gandolfo

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am very glad to see you here in the square at Castel Gandolfo and to resume the audiences after the interval in July. I would like to continue with the subject we have embarked on, that is, a “school of prayer”, and today, in a slightly different way and without straying from this theme, I would also like to mention certain spiritual and concrete aspects which seem to me useful, not only for those who — in one part of the world — are spending their summer holidays like us, but also for all who are involved in daily work.

When we have a break from our activities, especially in the holidays, we often take up a book we want to read. It is on this very aspect that I would first like to reflect today.

Each one of us needs time and space for recollection, meditation and calmness.... Thanks be to God that this is so! In fact, this need tells us that we are not made for work alone, but also to think, to reflect or even simply to follow with our minds and our hearts a tale, a story in which to immerse ourselves, in a certain sense “to lose ourselves” to find ourselves subsequently enriched.

Of course, many of these books to read, which we take in our hands during our vacation are at best an escape, and this is normal. Yet various people, particularly if they have more time in which to take a break and to relax, devote themselves to something more demanding.

I would therefore like to make a suggestion: why not discover some of the books of the Bible which are not commonly well known? Or those from which we heard certain passages in the liturgy but which we never read in their entirety? Indeed, many Christians never read the Bible and have a very limited and superficial knowledge of it. The Bible, as the name says, is a collection of books, a small “library” that came into being in the course of a millennium.

Some of these “small books” of which it is composed are almost unknown to the majority, even people who are good Christians.

Some are very short, such as the Book of Tobit, a tale that contains a lofty sense of family and marriage; or the Book of Esther, in which the Jewish Queen saves her people from extermination with her faith and prayer; or the Book of Ruth, a stranger who meets God and experiences his providence, which is even shorter. These little books can be read in an hour. More demanding and true masterpieces are the Book of Job, which faces the great problem of innocent suffering; Ecclesiastes is striking because of the disconcerting modernity with which it calls into question the meaning of life and of the world; and the Song of Songs, a wonderful symbolic poem of human love. As you see, these are all books of the Old Testament. And what about the New? The New Testament is of course better known and its literary genres are less diversified. Yet the beauty of reading a Gospel at one sitting must be discovered, just as I also recommend the Acts of the Apostles, or one of the Letters.

To conclude, dear friends, today I would like to suggest that you keep the Holy Bible within reach, during the summer period or in your breaks, in order to enjoy it in a new way by reading some of its books straight through, those that are less known and also the most famous, such as the Gospels, but without putting them down.

By so doing moments of relaxation can become in addition to a cultural enrichment also an enrichment of the spirit which is capable of fostering the knowledge of God and dialogue with him, prayer. And this seems to be a splendid holiday occupation: to take a book of the Bible in order to have a little relaxation and at the same time to enter the great realm of the word of God and to deepen our contact with the Eternal One, as the very purpose of the free time that the Lord gives us.

To special groups:

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present today, including the groups from the United States of America and from the Islands of the Caribbean and Mauritius. My special greeting goes to the young people from Australia and the Japanese pilgrims from Nagasaki. During these summer days, many of us find time to enjoy reading a good book. Today I would like to suggest reading through one of the many books of the Bible, as a way of appreciating the beauty of God’s word and thus growing in knowledge and love of him. May the Lord bless you and your families with wisdom, joy and peace!

Lastly, I greet the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. Dear friends, may the light of Christ always illuminate your lives and bring goodness to fruition in them. Thank you for your attention. I wish you a good day.

Castel Gandolfo

Wednesday, 10 August 2011 - “Oasis” of the spirit

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In every age, men and women who have consecrated their lives to God in prayer — like monks and nuns — have founded their communities in particularly beautiful places: in the countryside, on hilltops, in mountain valleys, on the shores of lakes or of the sea and even on small islands. These places combine two very important elements for contemplative life: the beauty of creation, which evokes the beauty of the Creator, and silence, which is guaranteed by living far from cities and the great thoroughfares of the media.

Silence is the environmental condition most conducive to contemplation, to listening to God and to meditation. The very fact of enjoying silence and letting ourselves be “filled”, so to speak, with silence, disposes us to prayer.

The great prophet Elijah on Mount Horeb — that is, Sinai — experienced a strong squall, then an earthquake and finally flashes of fire, but he did not recognize God’s voice in them; instead, he recognized it in a light breeze (cf.
1R 19,11-13).

God speaks in silence, but we must know how to listen. This is why monasteries are oases in which God speaks to humanity; and in them we find the cloister, a symbolic place because it is an enclosed space yet open to Heaven.

Tomorrow, dear friends, we shall commemorate St Clare of Assisi. Therefore, I would like to recall one such “oasis” of the spirit that is particularly dear to the Franciscan family and to all Christians: the little convent of St Damian, situated just beneath the city of Assisi, among the olive groves that slope down towards Santa Maria degli Angeli [St Mary of the Angels]. It was beside this little church, which Francis restored after his conversion, that Clare and her first companions established their community, living on prayer and humble tasks. They were called the “Poor Sisters” and their “form of life” was the same as that of the Friars Minor: “To observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rule of St Clare, 1, 2), preserving the union of reciprocal charity (cf. ibid, X, 7) and observing in particular the poverty and humility of Jesus and of his Most Holy Mother (cf. ibid., XII, 13).

The silence and beauty of the place in which the monastic community dwells — a simple and austere beauty — are like a reflection of the spiritual harmony which the community itself seeks to create. The world, particularly Europe, is spangled with these oases of the spirit, some very ancient, others recent, yet others have been restored by new communities. Looking at things from a spiritual perspective, these places of the spirit are the backbone of the world! It is no accident that many people, especially in their breaks, visit these places and spend several days here: the soul too, thanks be to God, has its needs!

Let us therefore remember St Clare. But let us also remember other saints who remind us of the importance of turning our gaze to the “things of heaven”, as did St Edith Stein, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Carmelite, co-Patroness of Europe, whom we celebrated yesterday. And today, 10 August, we cannot forget St Lawrence, deacon and martyr, with special congratulations to the Romans who have always venerated him as one of their Patrons. Lastly, let us turn our gaze to the Virgin Mary, that she may teach us to love silence and prayer.

To special groups:

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present today, including the groups from Guam, Canada and the United States of America. My special greeting goes to the young people en route to World Youth Day in Madrid! In these days the Church celebrates the feasts of great saints like Lawrence, Clare of Assisi and Edith Stein. May their example and intercession help us to draw closer to God through the practice of quiet prayer and contemplation. May the Lord bless you and your families with his joy and peace!

Castel Gandolfo

Wednesday, 17 August 2011 - Meditation

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We are still in the light of the Feast of the Assumption, which — as I said — is a Feast of hope. Mary has arrived in Heaven and this is our destination: we can all reach Heaven. The question is: how? Mary has arrived there. It is she — the Gospel says — “who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (
Lc 1,45).

Thus Mary believed, she entrusted herself to God, bent her will to the will of the Lord and so was truly on the most direct road, the road to Heaven. Believing, entrusting oneself to the Lord and complying with his will: this is the essential approach.

Today I do not want to talk about this whole journey of faith; I want to speak of only one small aspect of the life of prayer — which is life in contact with God — namely, meditation. And what is meditation? It means “remembering” all that God has done and not forgetting his many great benefits (cf. Ps 103,2 [102]:2b).

We often see only the negative things; we must also keep in mind all that is positive, the gifts that God has made us; we must be attentive to the positive signs that come from God and must remember them. Let us therefore speak of a type of prayer which in the Christian tradition is known as “mental prayer”. We are usually familiar with vocal prayer.

The heart and the mind must of course take part in this prayer. However we are speaking today of a meditation that does not consist of words but rather is a way of making contact with the heart of God in our mind. And here Mary is a very real model. Luke the Evangelist repeated several times that Mary, “kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lc 2,19; cf. Lc 2,51b). As a good custodian, she does not forget, she was attentive to all that the Lord told her and did for her, and she meditated, in other words she considered various things, pondering them in her heart.

Therefore, she who “believed” in the announcement of the Angel and made herself the means of enabling the eternal Word of the Most High to become incarnate also welcomed in her heart the wonderful miracle of that human-divine birth; she meditated on it and paused to reflect on what God was working within her, in order to welcome the divine will in her life and respond to it. The mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God and of Mary’s motherhood is of such magnitude that it requires interiorization; it is not only something physical which God brought about within her, but is something that demanded interiorization on the part of Mary who endeavours to deepen her understanding of it, to interpret its meaning, to comprehend its consequences and implications.

Thus, day after day, in the silence of ordinary life, Mary continued to treasure in her heart the sequence of marvellous events that she witnessed until the supreme test of the Cross and the glory of the Resurrection. Mary lived her life to the full, her daily duties, her role as a mother, but she knew how to reserve an inner space to reflect on the word and will of God, on what was occurring within her and on the mysteries of the life of her Son.

In our time we are taken up with so many activities and duties, worries and problems: we often tend to fill all of the spaces of the day, without leaving a moment to pause and reflect and to nourish our spiritual life, contact with God.

Mary teaches us how necessary it is to find in our busy day, moments for silent recollection, to meditate on what the Lord wants to teach us, on how he is present and active in the world and in our life: to be able to stop for a moment and meditate. St Augustine compares meditation on the mysteries of God to the assimilation of food and uses a verb that recurs throughout the Christian tradition, “to ruminate”; that is, the mysteries of God should continually resonate within us so that they become familiar to us, guide our lives and nourish us, as does the food we need to sustain us.

St Bonaventure, moreover, with reference to the words of Sacred Scripture, says that “they should always be ruminated upon so as to be able to gaze on them with ardent application of the soul,” (Coll. In Hex, ed. Quaracchi 1934, p. 218). To meditate, therefore, means to create within us a situation of recollection, of inner silence, in order to reflect upon and assimilate the mysteries of our faith and what God is working within us; and not merely on the things that come and go.

We may undertake this “rumination” in various ways: for example, by taking a brief passage of Sacred Scripture, especially the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles or the Letters of the Apostles, or a passage from a spiritual author that brings us closer and makes the reality of God more present in our day; or we can even, ask our confessor or spiritual director to recommend something to us.

By reading and reflecting on what we have read, dwelling on it, trying to understand what it is saying to me, what it says today, to open our spirit to what the Lord wants to tell us and teach us. The Holy Rosary is also a prayer of meditation: in repeating the Hail Mary we are asked to think about and reflect on the Mystery which we have just proclaimed. But we can also reflect on some intense spiritual experience, or on words that stayed with us when we were taking part in the Sunday Eucharist. So, you see, there are many ways to meditate and thereby to make contact with God and to approach God; and in this way, to be journeying on towards Heaven.

Dear friends, making time for God regularly is a fundamental element for spiritual growth; it will be the Lord himself who gives us the taste for his mysteries, his words, his presence and action, for feeling how beautiful it is when God speaks with us; he will enable us to understand more deeply what he expects of me. This, ultimately, is the very aim of meditation: to entrust ourselves increasingly to the hands of God, with trust and love, certain that in the end it is only by doing his will that we are truly happy.

To special groups:

I offer a cordial welcome to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors here today, especially those from Malta, South Korea, Nigeria and Canada. Through the intercession of Our Lady, whose Assumption we celebrated on Monday, may you and your loved ones draw ever closer to Jesus her Son. Upon all of you I invoke God’s abundant blessings!

Tomorrow, as you know, I shall be going to Madrid where I will have the joy of meeting many young people gathered there for the 26th World Youth Day. With your prayers, I ask you to join in spirit in this important ecclesial event. I thank you for your prayers. Thank you.

Castel Gandolfo

Wednesday, 24 August 2011 - Apostolic Journey to Madrid

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today I would like to return my thoughts and my heart to the extraordinary days I spent in Madrid for the 26th World Youth Day. As you know it was a stirring ecclesial event; about two million young people from all the continents lived with joy an overwhelming experience of brotherhood, of encounter with the Lord, of sharing and of growth in faith: a true cascade of light. I thank God for this precious gift, which promises hope for the Church's future: young people with a strong and sincere desire to root their life in Christ, to keep firm in faith, to walk together in the Church. My thanks to all who worked generously for this Day: the Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid, his Auxiliaries, the other Bishops of Spain and of other parts of the world, the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the priests, men and women religious and lay people.

I renew my gratitude to the Spanish authorities, to the institutions and associations, to the volunteers and to all who offered the support of their prayers. I cannot forget the warm welcome I received from Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain, as well as from the entire country.

I cannot of course describe in a few words the most intense moments that we experienced. I am thinking of the unrestrained enthusiasm with which the young people received me on the first day in the Plaza de Cibeles, of their words of expectation, their strong desire to turn to the deepest truth and to be rooted in it, that truth which God has granted us to know in Christ.

At the imposing Monastery of El Escorial, rich in history, spirituality and culture, I met the young women religious and young university professors. I reminded the former, the young women religious, of the beauty of their vocation lived with fidelity and of the importance of their apostolic service and their prophetic witness. Moreover, the impression of their enthusiasm, of their young faith, full of courage for the future and of the readiness to serve humanity in this way lives on within me.

I reminded the professors that they should be true formators of the new generations, guiding them in their search for truth not only with words but also with their life, knowing that the Truth is Christ himself. In finding Christ we find the truth. In the evening, during the celebration of the Way of the Cross, a variegated multitude of young people relived the scenes of Christ's passion and death with intense involvement: the Cross of Christ gives far more than it demands; it gives everything because it leads us to God.

The following day there was Holy Mass with the seminarians in the Cathedral of de la Almudena in Madrid, young men who want to be rooted in Christ in order some day to make him present as his ministers. I hope that vocations to the priesthood will increase! Among those present, more than a few had heard the Lord's call precisely during previous Youth Days; I am sure that in Madrid too the Lord knocked at the door of the heart of many young men so that they might follow him generously in the priestly ministry or in the religious life.

The visit to a Centre for differently abled young people permitted me to see the great respect and love that is felt for every person and it gave me the opportunity to thank the thousands of volunteers who silently bear witness to the Gospel of charity and life. The Prayer Vigil in the evening and the great concluding Eucharistic celebration the following day were two very intense moments: in the evening a multitude of young people celebrating, not in the least discouraged by the wind and rain, knelt in silent adoration of Christ present in the Eucharist, to praise him, to thank him, to ask him for help and enlightenment; and then, on Sunday, the young people expressed their exuberance and joy in celebrating the Lord in the word and in the Eucharist, to insert themselves increasingly in him and to strengthen their faith and their life as Christians. I met the volunteers at the end in an atmosphere of enthusiasm and thanked them for their generosity and, with the Farewell Ceremony, I left the country bearing these days in my heart as a great gift.

Dear friends, the Madrid Meeting was a wonderful expression of faith for Spain and for the world first of all. For the multitude of youth, who came from every corner of the earth it was a special opportunity to reflect, to take part in dialogue, to exchange positive experiences with each other and above all, to pray together and renew the commitment to root their own life in Christ, a faithful Friend.

I am sure that they are returning home firmly resolved to be the leaven in the mass, bringing the hope that is born from faith. For my part, I continue to accompany them with my prayers, so that they will be faithful to the commitments they have taken on. I entrust the fruits of this Day to the motherly intercession of Mary.

And I would now like to announce the themes of the upcoming World Youth Days. The theme for the Day next year, which will be celebrated in the individual dioceses will be: “Rejoice in the Lord always”, from the Letter to the Philippians (
Ph 4,4); whereas for the World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, the theme will be Jesus' mandate: “Go and make disciples of all nations!” (cf. Mt 28,19). From this moment I entrust the preparation for these very important events to the prayers of all. Many thanks.

To special groups:

I warmly greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors here today. Having just returned from Madrid, I greet affectionately the young people present, especially those who were with me for the unforgettable celebration of World Youth Day. I also welcome those present from Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and the United States. May God bless all of you and remain with you for ever!

I greet with affection the Italian-speaking pilgrims, as well as the couples of newlyweds. I ask everyone to devote more and more time to Christian formation, in order to be faithful disciples of Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. Now let us chant the Pater Noster in Latin. Thank you all and have a good day.
* * *

At the end of the Audience, the Holy Father greeted the many faithful present in the square in front of the Papal Residence and said:

Dear friends, good morning! I wish you a good day, joy, happy holidays and also a safe return to work. May the Lord always be with you so that you may feel his presence and the light that comes from faith. My very best wishes to you all! May the Lord always bless you! I now impart the Apostolic Blessing to you all.

Castel Gandolfo

Wednesday, 31 August 2011 - Art and Prayer

Audiences 2005-2013 22061