Audiences 2005-2013 25012
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In today’s Catechesis let us focus our attention on the prayer that Jesus raises to the Father in the “Hour” of his exaltation and glorification (cf. Jn 17,1-26). As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “Christian Tradition rightly calls this prayer the ‘priestly’ prayer of Jesus. It is the prayer of our High Priest, inseparable from his sacrifice, from his “passing over” (Passover) to the Father to whom he is wholly ‘consecrated’” (n. 2747).
The extreme richness of Jesus’ prayer can be understood especially if we set it against the backdrop of the Jewish feast of expiation, Yom Kippur. On that day the High Priest makes expiation first for himself and then for the category of priests, and, lastly, for the whole community of the people. The purpose is to restore to the People of Israel, after a year’s transgressions, the awareness of their reconciliation with God, the awareness that they are the Chosen People, a “holy people”, among the other peoples. The prayer of Jesus, presented in Chapter 17 of the Gospel according to John, returns to the structure of this feast. On that night Jesus addresses the Father at the moment when he is offering himself. He, priest and victim, prays for himself, for the Apostles and for all those who will believe in him and for the Church of all the time (cf. Jn 17,20).
The prayer that Jesus prays for himself is the request for his glorification, for his “exaltation” in his “Hour”. In fact, it is more than a prayer of petition, more than the declaration of his full willingness to enter, freely and generously, into the plan of God the Father, which is fulfilled in his being consigned and in his death and resurrection. This “Hour” began with Judas’ betrayal (cf. Jn 13,31) and was to end in the ascension of the Risen Jesus to the Father (Jn 20,17).
Jesus comments on Judas’ departure from the Upper Room with these words: “Now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified” (Jn 13,31). It is not by chance that he begins his priestly prayer saying: “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you” (Jn 17,1).
The glorification that Jesus asks for himself as High Priest, is the entry into full obedience to the Father, an obedience that leads to his fullest filial condition: “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was made” (Jn 17,5). This readiness and this request are the first act of the new priesthood of Jesus, which is a total gift of himself on the Cross and on the Cross itself — the supreme act of love — he is glorified because love is the true glory, the divine glory.
The second moment of this prayer is the intercession that Jesus makes for the disciples who have been with him. They are those of whom Jesus can say to the Father: “I have manifested your name to the men whom you gave me out of the world; yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word” (Jn 17,6). This “manifesting God’s name to m en” is the fulfilment of a new presence of the Father among the people, for humanity. This “manifesting” is not only a word, but is reality in Jesus; God is with us, and so his name — his presence with us, his being one of us — is “fulfilled”. This manifestation is thus realized in the Incarnation of the Word. In Jesus God enters human flesh, he becomes close in a new and unique way. And this presence culminates in the sacrifice that Jesus makes in his Pasch of death and Resurrection.
At the centre of this prayer of intercession and of expiation in favour of the disciples is the request for consecration; Jesus says to the Father: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you did send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth” (Jn 17,16-19).
I ask: what does “consecrate” mean in this case? First of all it must be said that really only God is “consecrated” or “holy”. “To consecrate” therefore means “to transfer” a reality – a person or a thing – to become the property of God. And two complementary aspects are present in this: on the one hand, removing them from ordinary things, segregating, “setting them apart” from the context of personal human life so that they may be totally given to God; and on the other, this segregation, this transferal into God’s sphere, has the very meaning of “sending”, of mission: precisely because he or she is given to God, the reality, the consecrated person, exists “for” others, is given to others. Giving to God means no longer existing for oneself, but for everyone. Whoever, like Jesus, is segregated from the world and set apart for God with a view to a task is for this very reason, fully available to all. For the disciples the task will be to continue Jesus’ mission, to be given to God and thereby to be on mission for all. The Risen One, appearing to his disciples on Easter evening, was to say to them: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (Jn 20,21).
The third part of this priestly prayer extends to the end of time. In it Jesus turns to the Father in order to intercede for all those who will be brought to the faith through the mission inaugurated by the Apostles and continued in history: “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their world”. Jesus prays for the Church of all time, he also prays for us (Jn 17,20).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church comments: “Jesus fulfilled the work of the Father completely; his prayer, like his sacrifice, extends until the end of time. The prayer of this hour fills the end-times and carries them toward their consummation” (n. 2749).
The central request of the priestly prayer of Jesus dedicated to his disciples of all epochs is that of the future unity of those who will believe in him. This unity is not a worldly product. It comes exclusively from the divine unity and reaches us from the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. Jesus invokes a gift that comes from Heaven and has its effect — real and perceptible — on earth. He prays “that they may all be one; even as you, Father are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn 17,21).
Christian unity, on the one hand, is a secret reality that is in the heart of believers. But, at the same time, it must appear with full clarity in history, it must appear so that the world may believe, it has a very practical and concrete purpose, it must appear so that all may really be one. The unity of future disciples, in being united with Jesus— whom the Father sent into the world — is also the original source of the efficacy of the Christian mission in the world.
“We can say that the founding of the Church takes place” in the priestly prayer of Jesus... In this very place, in the act of the Last Supper, Jesus creates the Church. “For what else is the Church, if not the community of disciples who through faith in Jesus Christ as the one sent by the Father”, receives his unity and is involved in Jesus’ mission to save the world, leading it to knowledge of God? Here we really find a true definition of the Church. “The Church is born from Jesus’ prayer. But this prayer is more than words; it is the act by which he ‘sanctifies’ himself, that is to say, he ‘sacrifices’ himself for the life of the world” (cf. Jesus of Nazareth, II, p. 101).
Jesus prays that his disciples may be one. By virtue of this unity, received and preserved, the Church can walk “in the world” without being “of the world” (cf. Jn 17,16) and can live the mission entrusted to her so that the world may believe in the Son and in the Father who sent him. Therefore the Church becomes the place in which the mission of Christ itself continues: to lead the “world” out of man’s alienation from God and out of himself, out of sin, so that it may return to being the world of God.
Dear brothers and sisters, we have grasped a few elements of the great richness of the priestly prayer of Jesus, which I invite you to read and to meditate on so that it may guide us in dialogue with the Lord and teach us to pray. Let us too, therefore, in our prayers, ask God to help us to enter, more fully, into the design he has for each one of us. Let us ask him to be “consecrated” to him, to belong to him more and more, to be able to love others more and more, those who are near and far; let us ask him to be able always to open our prayer to the dimensions of the world, not closing it to the request for help with our problems but remembering our neighbour before the Lord, learning the beauty of interceding for others; let us ask him for the gift of visible unity among all believers in Christ — we have invoked it forcefully in this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity — let us pray to be ever ready to answer anyone who asks us to account for the hope that is in us (cf. 1P 3,15). Many thanks.
To special groups:
I offer a warm welcome to the students of the Bossey Graduate School of Ecumenical Studies in Switzerland, and I offer prayerful good wishes for their work. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience I cordially invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!
Lastly, an affectionate thought goes to the young people, the sick and the newlyweds.The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which ends today, offers us the opportunity to reflect on our belonging to Christ and to the Church. Dear young people, trust in the teachings of the Church, which aim for your integral development. Dear sick people, offer your sufferings for the cause of the unity of the Church of Christ. And you, dear newlyweds, raise your children in accordance with the logic of love freely given, on the model of God’s love for humanity.
Paul VI Audience Hall10212
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today I would like to talk about Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Olives at Gethsemane. The scenario of the Gospel narrative of this prayer is particularly significant. Jesus sets out for the Mount of Olives after the Last Supper while he is praying together with his disciples. The Evangelist Mark says: “when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Mc 14,26).
This is probably an allusion to singing one of the Hallel Psalms, with which thanks are given to God for the liberation of the People from slavery and his help is asked for the ever new difficulties and threats of the present. The walk to Gethsemane is punctuated by Jesus’ remarks that convey a sense of his impending death and proclaim the imminent dispersion of the disciples.
Having reached the grove on the Mount of Olives, that night too Jesus prepares for personal prayer. However, this time something new happens: it seems that he does not want to be left alone. Jesus would often withdraw from the crowd and from the disciples themselves “to a lonely place” (Mc 1,35) or he would go up “into the hills”, St Mark says (cf. Mc 6,46). Instead at Gethsemane he invites Peter, James and John to stay closer to him. They are the disciples he called upon to be with him on the Mount of the Transfiguration (cf. Mc 9,2-13). This closeness of the three during his prayer in Gethsemane is important. On that night too Jesus was going to pray to the Father “apart”, for his relationship with the Father is quite unique: It is the relationship of the Only-Begotten Son. Indeed, one might say that especially on that night no one could really have come close to the Son, who presented himself to the Father with his absolutely unique and exclusive identity.
Yet, although Jesus arrives “alone” at the place in which he was to stop and pray, he wants at least three disciples to be near him, to be in a closer relationship with him. This is a spacial closeness, a plea for solidarity at the moment in which he feels death approaching, but above all it is closeness in prayer, in a certain way to express harmony with him at the moment when he is preparing to do the Father’s will to the very end; and it is an invitation to every disciple to follow him on the Way of Cross.
Mark the Evangelist recounts: “he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch” (Mc 14,33-34).
In the words he addresses to the three, Jesus once again expresses himself in the language of the Psalms: “My soul is very sorrowful”, an expression borrowed from Psalm 43 (cf. Ps 43:5). The firm determination “unto death” thus calls to mind a situation lived by many of those sent by God in the Old Testament and which is expressed in their prayers. Indeed, following the mission entrusted to them frequently means encountering hostility, rejection and persecution.
Moses is dramatically aware of the trial he is undergoing while guiding the people through the desert and says to God: “I am not able to carry all this people alone, the burden is too heavy for me. If you will deal thus with me, rather kill me at once, kill me if I have found favour in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness” (cf. Nb 11,14-15).
Elijah too finds doing his duty to God and to his People difficult. The first Book of Kings recounts: “he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat under a broom tree; and he asked that he might die, saying, ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers’” (1R 19,4).
What Jesus says to the three disciples whom he wants near him during his prayer at Gethsemane shows that he feels fear and anguish in that “Hour”, experiencing his last profound loneliness precisely while God’s plan is being brought about. Moreover Jesus’ fear and anguish sums up the full horror of man in the face of his own death, the certainty that it is inescapable and a perception of the burden of evil that touches our lives.
After the invitation to stay with him to watch and pray which he addresses to the three, Jesus speaks to the Father “alone”. Mark the Evangelist tells us that “going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him” (Mc 14,35). Jesus fell prostrate on the ground: a position of prayer that expresses obedience to the Father and abandonment in him with complete trust. This gesture is repeated at the beginning of the celebration of the Passion, on Good Friday, as well as in monastic profession and in the ordination of deacons, priests and bishops in order to express, in prayer, corporally too, complete entrustment to God, trust in him. Jesus then asks the Father, if this be possible, to obtain that this hour pass from him. It is not only man’s fear and anguish in the face of death, but is the devastation of the Son of God who perceives the terrible mass of evil that he must take upon himself to overcome it, to deprive it of power.
Dear friends, in prayer we too should be able to lay before God our labours, the suffering of certain situations, of certain days, the daily commitment to following him, to being Christian, and also the weight of the evil that we see within ourselves and around us, so that he may give us hope and make us feel his closeness and give us a little light on the path of life.
Jesus continues his prayer: “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mc 14,36). In this invocation there are three revealing passages. At the beginning we have the double use the word with which Jesus addresses God: “Abba! Father!” (Mc 14,36). We know well that the Aramaic word Abbà is the term that children use to address their father and hence that it expresses Jesus’ relationship with God, a relationship of tenderness, affection, trust and abandonment.
The second element is found in the central part of the invocation: awareness of the Father’s omnipotence: “all things are possible to you”, which introduces a request in which, once again, the drama of Jesus’ human will appears as he faces death and evil: “remove this cup from me!”.
However, there is the third expression in Jesus’ prayer, and it is the crucial one, in which the human will adheres to the divine will without reserve. In fact, Jesus ends by saying forcefully: “yet not what I will but what you will” (). In the unity of the divine person of the Son, the human will finds its complete fulfilment in the total abandonment of the I to the You of the Father, called Abba.
St Maximus the Confessor says that ever since the moment of the creation of man and woman, the human will has been oriented to the divine will and that it is precisely in the “yes” to God that the human will is fully free and finds its fulfilment. Unfortunately, because of sin, this “yes” to God is transformed into opposition: Adam and Eve thought that the “no” to God was the crowning point of freedom, of being fully themselves.
On the Mount of Olives, Jesus brings the human will back to the unreserved “yes” to God; in him the natural will is fully integrated in the orientation that the Divine Person gives it. Jesus lives his life in accordance with the centre of his Person: his being the Son of God. His human will is drawn into the I of the Son who abandons himself totally to the Father. Thus Jesus tells us that it is only by conforming our own will to the divine one that human beings attain their true height, that they become “divine”; only by coming out of ourselves, only in the “yes” to God, is Adam's desire — and the desire of us all — to be completely free. It is what Jesus brings about at Gethsemane: in transferring the human will into the divine will the true man is born and we are redeemed.
The Compendium of the Catholic Church teaches concisely: “The prayer of Jesus during his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and his last words on the Cross reveal the depth of his filial prayer. Jesus brings to completion the loving plan of the Father and takes upon himself all the anguish of humanity and all the petitions and intercessions of the history of salvation. He presents them to the Father who accepts them and answers them beyond all hope by raising his Son from the dead” (n. 543). Truly “nowhere else in Sacred Scripture do we gain so deep an insight into the inner mystery of Jesus as in the prayer on the Mount of Olives (Jesus of Nazareth, II, 2011, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, p. 157).
Dear brothers and sisters, every day in the prayer of the Our Father we ask the Lord: “thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6,10). In other words we recognize that there is a will of God with us and for us, a will of God for our life that must become every day, increasingly, the reference of our willing and of our being; we recognize moreover that “heaven” is where God’s will is done and where the “earth” becomes “heaven”, a place where love, goodness, truth and divine beauty are present, only if, on earth, God’s will is done.
In Jesus’ prayer to the Father on that terrible and marvellous night in Gethsemane, the “earth” became “heaven”; the “earth” of his human will, shaken by fear and anguish, was taken up by his divine will in such a way that God’s will was done on earth. And this is also important in our own prayers: we must learn to entrust ourselves more to divine Providence, to ask God for the strength to come out of ourselves to renew our “yes” to him, to say to him “thy will be done”, so as to conform our will to his. It is a prayer we must pray every day because it is not always easy to entrust ourselves to God’s will, repeating the “yes” of Jesus, the “yes” of Mary.
The Gospel accounts of Gethsemane regretfully show that the three disciples, chosen by Jesus to be close to him, were unable to watch with him, sharing in his prayer, in his adherence to the Father and they were overcome by sleep. Dear friends, let us ask the Lord to enable us to keep watch with him in prayer, to follow the will of God every day even if he speaks of the Cross, to live in ever greater intimacy with the Lord, in order to bring a little bit of God’s “heaven” to this “earth”. Many thanks.
To special groups:
I offer a warm welcome to the group of British Army Chaplains taking part in today’s audience. My greeting also goes to the many student and parish groups present. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, including those from Hong Kong and the United States of America, I cordially invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!
Lastly I wish to greet the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. The figure of St John Bosco whom we commemorated yesterday, brings us to see how important it is to educate the new generations in the authentic human and spiritual values of life. Dear young people, I invoke upon you the Saint’s special protection of youth and I hope you will always find wise teachers and reliable guides. Dear sick people, may your suffering, offered generously to the Lord, make fruitful the Church’s commitment to the world of youth. And you, newlyweds, prepare yourselves to be the first and irreplaceable educators of the children the Lord will give you.
Paul VI Audience Hall80212
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today I would like to reflect with you on the prayer of Jesus when death was imminent, pausing to think about everything St Mark and St Matthew tell us. The two Evangelists record the prayer of the dying Jesus not only in Greek, in which their accounts are written but, because of the importance of these words, also in a mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic. In this way they have passed down not only the content but also the sound that this prayer had on Jesus’ lips: let us really listen to Jesus’ words as they were. At the same time, the Evangelists describe to us the attitude of those present at the crucifixion who did not understand — or did not want to understand — this prayer.
St Mark wrote, as we have heard: “when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”. (Mc 15,33-34). In the structure of the account, the prayer, Jesus’ cry, is raised at the end of the three hours of darkness that shrouded all the earth from midday until three o’clock in the afternoon. These three hours of darkness are in turn the continuation of a previous span of time, also of three hours, that began with the crucifixion of Jesus.
The Evangelist Mark, in fact, tells us that “it was the third hour, when they crucified him” (Mc 15,25). All the times given in the narrative, Jesus’ six hours on the Cross are divided into two parts of equal length.
The mockery of various groups which displays their scepticism and confirms their disbelief fits into the first three hours, from nine o’clock in the morning until midday. St Mark writes: “Those who passed by derided him” (Mc 15,29); “So also the chief priests mocked him to one another with the scribes” (Mc 15,31); “those who were crucified with him also reviled him” (Mc 15,32). In the following three hours, from midday until “the ninth hour” [three o’clock in the afternoon], the Evangelist spoke only of the darkness that had come down over the entire earth; only darkness fills the whole scene without any references to people’s movements or words. While Jesus is drawing ever closer to death, there is nothing but darkness that covers “the whole land”.
The cosmos also takes part in this event: the darkness envelops people and things, but even at this moment of darkness God is present, he does not abandon them. In the biblical tradition darkness has an ambivalent meaning: it is a sign of the presence and action of evil, but also of a mysterious presence and action of God who can triumph over every shadow.
In the Book of Exodus, for example, we read “The Lord said to Moses: “Lo, I am coming to you in a thick cloud” (Ex 19,9); and, further: “the people stood afar off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was” (Ex 20,21). And in his discourses in Deuteronomy, Moses recounts: “And you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, while the mountain burned with fire to the heart of heaven wrapped in darkness, cloud, and gloom” (Dt 4,11); you “heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire” (5,23). In the scene of the crucifixion of Jesus the darkness engulfs the earth and the Son of God immerses himself in the shadows of death in order to bring life, with his act of love.
Returning to St Mark’s narrative, in the face of the insults of various categories of people, in the face of the pall of darkness that shrouds everything, at the moment when he faces death, Jesus, with the cry of his prayer, shows that with the burden of suffering and death in which there seems to be abandonment, the absence of God, Jesus is utterly certain of the closeness of the Father who approves this supreme act of love, the total gift of himself, although the voice from on high is not heard, as it was on other occasions.
In reading the Gospels we realize that in other important passages on his earthly existence Jesus had also seen the explanatory voice of God associated with the signs of the Father’s presence and approval of his journey of love.
Thus in the event that follows the Baptism in the Jordan, at the opening of the heavens, the words of the Father had been heard: “Thou art my beloved Son, with thee I am well pleased” (Mc 1,11). Then in the Transfiguration, the sign of the cloud was accompanied with these words: “this is my beloved Son; listen to him” (Mc 9,7). Instead, at the approach of the death of the Crucified One, silence falls, no voice is heard but the Father’s loving gaze is fixed on his Son’s gift of love.
However, what is the meaning of Jesus’ prayer, of the cry he addresses to the Father: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”: doubt about his mission, about the Father’s presence? Might there not be in this prayer the knowledge that he had been forsaken? The words that Jesus addresses to the Father are the beginning of Psalm 22, in which the Psalmist expresses to God his being torn between feeling forsaken and the certain knowledge of God’s presence in his People’s midst. He, the Psalmist, prays: “O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel” (vv. 3-4). The Psalmist speaks of this “cry” in order to express the full suffering of his prayer to God, seemingly absent: in the moment of anguish his prayer becomes a cry.
This also happens in our relationship with the Lord: when we face the most difficult and painful situations, when it seems that God does not hear, we must not be afraid to entrust the whole weight of our overburdened hearts to him, we must not fear to cry out to him in our suffering, we must be convinced that God is close, even if he seems silent.
Repeating from the Cross the first words of Psalm 22 “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” — “My God my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27,46); uttering the words of the Psalm, Jesus prays at the moment of his ultimate rejection by men, at the moment of abandonment; yet he prays, with the Psalm, in the awareness of God’s presence, even in that hour when he is feeling the human drama of death.
However a question arises within us: how is it possible that such a powerful God does not intervene to save his Son from this terrible trial? It is important to understand that Jesus’ prayer is not the cry of one who meets death with despair, nor is it the cry of one who knows he has been forsaken. At this moment Jesus makes his own the whole of Psalm 22, the Psalm of the suffering People of Israel. In this way he takes upon himself not only the sin of his people, but also that of all men and women who are suffering from the oppression of evil and, at the same time, he places all this before God’s own heart, in the certainty that his cry will be heard in the Resurrection: “The cry of extreme anguish is at the same time the certainty of an answer from God, the certainty of salvation — not only for Jesus himself, but for ‘many’” (Jesus of Nazareth, II, pp. 213-214 Ignatius Press, San Francisco 2011).
In this prayer of Jesus are contained his extreme trust and his abandonment into God’s hands, even when God seems absent, even when he seems to be silent, complying with a plan incomprehensible to us. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read: “in the redeeming love that always united him to the Father, he assumed us in the state of our waywardness of sin, to the point that he could say in our name from the cross: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (n. 603). His is a suffering in communion with us and for us, which derives from love and already bears within it redemption, the victory of love.
The bystanders at the foot of the Cross of Jesus fail to understand, thinking that his cry is a supplication addressed to Elijah. In the scene they seek to assuage his thirst in order to prolong his life and to find out whether Elijah will truly come to his aid, but with a loud cry Jesus’ earthly life comes to an end, as well as their wish.
At the supreme moment, Jesus gives vent to his heart’s grief, but at the same time makes clear the meaning of the Father’s presence and his consent to the Father’s plan of salvation of humanity.
We too have to face ever anew the “today” of suffering of God’s silence — we express it so often in our prayers — but we also find ourselves facing the “today” of the Resurrection, of the response of God who took upon himself our sufferings, to carry them together with us and to give us the firm hope that they will be overcome (cf. Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi, nn. ).
Dear friends, let us lay our daily crosses before God in our prayers, in the certainty that he is present and hears us. Jesus’ cry reminds us that in prayer we must surmount the barriers of our “ego” and our problems and open ourselves to the needs and suffering of others.
May the prayer of Jesus dying on the Cross teach us to pray lovingly for our many brothers and sisters who are oppressed by the weight of daily life, who are living through difficult moments, who are in pain, who have no word of comfort; let us place all this before God’s heart, so that they too may feel the love of God who never abandons us. Many thanks.
In the past few weeks a wave of cold weather and freezing temperatures has hit some parts of Europe, giving rise to great hardship and immense damage, as we know. I would like to express my closeness to the peoples affected by this intense bad weather, while I ask for prayers for the victims and their families. At the same time, I encourage solidarity, so that those affected by these tragic events may be given generous help.
* * *
I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including groups from England, Ireland, Norway and the United States of America. I extend a special welcome to the many students who are here, and I pray that your studies may serve to deepen your knowledge and love of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Whatever darkness you experience in your lives, may you always remain firm in faith, hope and love. May God bless all of you!
Paul VI Audience Hall15022
Audiences 2005-2013 25012