Pope Francis begins a new series of catechesis during the General Audience on the theme of prayer and invites the faithful never to suffocate that cry for hope and salvation.
Taking inspiration from the Gospel episode of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar from Jericho who is able to see again after making a profession of faith in Jesus, Pope Francis invited Christians to reach out to God with prayer and to persevere in their journey of faith.
Addressing the faithful from the Library of the Apostolic Palace during his live-streamed weekly General Audience, the Pope reflected on the reading from the Gospel of Mark (Mk 10:47) and described prayer as “the breath of faith, a cry arising from the hearts of those who trust in God.”
He said that although he is blind, Bartimaeus is aware that Jesus is approaching and perseveres in calling out, “screaming at the top of his lungs: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
The Pope explained that by using the only weapon at his disposal, his voice, and ignoring the many who reproach him telling him to be quiet, he cries out “Son of David,” making a profession of faith in Jesus the Messiah.
The blind beggar’s prayer touches God’s heart, the Pope said, and Bartimaeus is able to see again meaning that “the gates of salvation are opened for him.”
Faith is a cry for salvation
“This indicates that faith is a cry for salvation attracting God’s mercy and power,” Pope Francis said, pointing out that it is not only Christians who pray but all men and women who search for meaning on their earthly journey.
As we continue on our pilgrimage of faith, he continued, may we “always persevere in prayer, especially in our darkest moments, and ask the Lord with confidence: “Jesus have mercy on me. Jesus, have mercy on us!”
“Faith is having two raised hands, a voice that cries out to implore the gift of salvation,” the Pope said, noting that the Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms that “humility is the foundation of prayer.” And he explained that prayer “finds its origin in the earth, from the humus – from which the word “humble”, “humility” derives: It comes from our precarious state, from our continual thirst for God.”
“Faith is a cry,” he added, and exhorted us never to suffocate that cry.
“Faith is a protest against a painful condition for which we do not understand the reason,” he continued, saying “To disbelieve is limiting oneself to endure a situation that we have adapted ourselves to,” becoming accustomed to the evil that oppresses us, while “Faith is the hope of being saved.”
Prayer is stronger than any argument to the contrary
Returning to the theme of prayer, Pope Francis said: “There is a voice in the depths of mankind that prays which is stronger than any argument to the contrary.”
He described it “as a voice that flows forth spontaneously without anyone commanding it; a voice that questions the meaning of our journey here below, above all when we find ourselves in darkness” and we cry out “Jesus, have mercy on me! Jesus, have mercy on all of us!”
It’s not only Christians who pray
Pope Francis concluded his catechesis noting that these are words “inscribed on all of creation.”
“Everything prays and begs so that the mystery of mercy might find its ultimate fulfillment,” he said, reiterating that “it is not only Christians who pray” because every single man and woman share the desire for salvation: “Man is a beggar before God.”
Pope urges prayers to the Virgin during hard times
“The day after tomorrow, May 8, the feast of Our Lady of Lujan will be celebrated in Argentina,” Pope Francis said at Wednesday’s General Audience, reminding his Spanish-speaking listeners about the feast of the Patroness of his homeland. “May she, Mother of God and our Mother,” he said, “intercede for us and obtain for us from Her Son the necessary graces in this difficult time that the world is going through.”
Pope Francis himself has made pilgrimages to the shrine of Our Lady of Lujan, not far from Buenos Aires. He recently wrote a letter to Archbishop Jorge Scheinig of Lujan expressing his wish to be a pilgrim at the sanctuary on May 8 along with all the people of God to be gazed upon by the Virgin Mary. “I will be with you spiritually, as a spiritual and ‘virtual’ pilgrim. I will look at Her once again and, once again, I will let myself be gazed upon by her,” he wrote.
During Wednesday’s General Audience, Pope Francis also addressed Italian listeners, reminding them that the same day, May 8, an “intense prayer of “Petition to Our Lady of the Rosary” will be raised at the Shrine of Pompei. “I urge everyone to unite themselves spiritually to this popular act of faith and devotion, so that through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, the Lord may grant mercy and peace to the Church and to the whole world.”
Twice each year, on May 8th and again on the first Sunday of October, solemn prayers of petition are offered at the Marian Shrine at Pompeii for the needs of the whole world.
Pope Francis visited the Marian Shrine of Pompei on March 21, 2015, becoming the 5th pontiff to do so.
Pope appeals for respect for the dignity of farm workers
“On May 1, I received several messages about the world of work and its problems,” the Pope said during his weekly General Audience in the Vatican. He said, he “was particularly struck by that of the farm workers, among them many immigrants, who work in the Italian countryside.” “Unfortunately,” he pointed out, “many times they are very harshly exploited.”
“It is true that the current crisis affects everyone,” he said, “but people’s dignity must always be respected.” “That is why,” he continued, “I add my voice to the appeal of these workers and of all exploited workers.” He wished that the “crisis may give us the opportunity to make the dignity of the person and of work the centre of our concern.”
Earlier on April 16, Caritas Europa made a similar appeal calling on Europe’s 46 nations to defend the rights of migrant farm workers, amid fear of food supply shortages during the COVID-19 restrictions.
Vatican News and Linda Bordoni – Pope at Audience: ‘We are all beggars before God’
Vatican News and Robin Gomes – Pope urges prayers to the Virgin during hard times
Vatican News – Pope appeals for respect for the dignity of farm workers