… and Migrants At Sea Should Never Be Denied Aid
By Fr. Basil Okoye
Continuing his catechesis on Christian prayer during the weekly General Audience, Pope Francis explains the importance of meditation, highlighting that it is a means of prayer that helps us encounter Jesus and find ourselves.
For a Christian, Pope Francis said at the General Audience, “to ‘meditate’ is to seek meaning: it implies placing oneself before the great page of Revelation in order to try to make it our own, taking it in completely.”
Therefore, having welcomed the Word of God, a Christian does not keep it closed up inside, because that Word must meet with “another book,” which the Catechism calls “the book of life.” This, the Pope affirmed, “is what we attempt to do every time we meditate on the Word.”
The Holy Father dedicated his catechesis on Wednesday to meditation as a form of prayer.
Meditation is a need for everyone
The Pope highlighted that the practice of meditation has received great attention in recent times by almost all the religions of the world, including Christianity, and is even widespread among people who do not have a religious vision of life.
“We all need to meditate, to reflect, to find ourselves,” he said. “Especially in the voracious Western world, people seek meditation because it represents a high barrier against the daily stress and emptiness that is everywhere.”
He further added that it is a phenomenon to be welcomed, because we possess an interior life that cannot always be neglected .
Prayer is an encounter
The Word, “once accepted in a Christian context, takes on a specificity that must not be erased,” the Pope explained. Here, Jesus Christ is “the great door through which the prayer of a baptized person passes” and the practice of meditation also follows this path.
When a Christian prays, Pope Francis explained, they do not aspire to full self-transparency nor seek the deepest core of their ego. Rather, the prayer of a Christian is, first of all, an encounter with the ‘Other.’
Therefore, “if an experience of prayer gives us inner peace, or self-mastery, or clarity about the path to take, these results are, one might say, side effects of the grace of Christian prayer which is the encounter with Jesus,” he said.
Methods of Christian meditation
Pope Francis went on to note that the term “meditation” has had different meanings throughout history, including within Christianity where it refers to different spiritual experiences. However, the Catechism of the Catholic Church helps to trace some common lines by highlighting that “there are as many and varied methods of meditation as there are spiritual masters… But a method is only a guide; the important thing is to advance, with the Holy Spirit, along the one way of prayer: Christ Jesus.”
In this regard, he highlighted the many methods of Christian meditation: “some are very sober, others more articulate; some accentuate the intellectual dimension of the person, others rather the affective and emotional,” he pointed out.
However, “all of them important and worthy of practice, inasmuch as they can help the experience of faith to become a total act of the person” because people do not only pray with their minds or their feelings.
The method is a road, not a goal
Further illustrating his message, Pope Francis recalled that the ancients used to say that “the organ of prayer is the heart” to explain that it is the whole person, starting from his or her center – not only some of their faculties – who enters into a relationship with God.
At the same time, “we must always remember that the method is a road, not a goal,” he stressed. “Any method of prayer, if it is to be Christian, is part of that sequela Christi [following Christ] which is the essence of our faith.”
Citing the Catechism of the Church, Pope Francis noted that “meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ.”
Christ is not far away
The grace of Christian prayer is that “Christ is not far away but is always in relationship with us,” Pope Francis affirmed.
This is because “there is no aspect of the divine-human person that cannot become for us, a place of salvation and happiness,” he said. Thus, “every moment of Jesus’ earthly life, through the grace of prayer, can become contemporary with us” and there is no page in the Gospels in which there is no place for us.
In this manner, thanks to the Holy Spirit, we too are present at the river Jordan when Jesus is baptized, we are diners at the wedding feast of Cana when Jesus gives the best wine for the happiness of the couple, we too witness in amazement the thousands of healings performed by Our Lord. At the same time, “we are the cleansed leper, the blind Bartimaeus who regains his sight and Lazarus who comes out of the tomb.”
For us Christians, the Pope concluded, “meditating is a way of encountering Jesus. And in this way, only in this way, can we find ourselves.”
Pope at Mass: Priestly Ordination ‘A Gift of Service’
Pope Francis celebrates Mass on Good Shepherd Sunday, and ordains 9 men to the priesthood for the Diocese of Rome.
As the Church marks Good Shepherd Sunday, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica with the Rite of Ordination of Priests.
The Pope, the Bishop of Rome, ordained nine deacons to the priesthood. They are: Georg Marius Bogdan, Salvatore Marco Montone, Manuel Secci, Diego Armando Barrera Parra, Salvatore Lucchesi, Giorgio de Iuri, Riccardo Cendamo, Samuel Piermarini, and Mateus Henrique Ataide da Cruz.
Expression of Christ’s priesthood
In his homily, Pope Francis urged the nine men to focus their gaze always on Christ as they serve His people.
He said their ministry is an expression of Christ’s own office of Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd.
“Priests,” said the Pope, “are established co-workers of the Order of Bishops, with whom they are joined in the priestly office and with whom they are called to the service of the people of God.”
He added that their task is to “preach the Gospel, to shepherd God’s people, and to celebrate the sacred Liturgy, especially the Lord’s sacrifice.”
The Pope then stressed that in becoming priests “you will be like Him: a shepherd”. This, he continued “is not a career”, but “a service”.
Pope Francis asked the priests to adopt four forms of closeness in their service.. “closeness to God, closeness to the Bishop, closeness to each other and closeness to the people of God”.
All these, he continued, must be performed with “a style of compassion and tenderness”.
Be open to problems
“Don’t close your heart to problems” urged the Pope. He explained that it is so important to take time to listen to and console those who present themselves with problems. This is compassion, explained the Pope, “which leads to forgiveness, to mercy”. Please, urged the Pope, “be merciful, be forgiving, because God forgives everything, he does not get tired of forgiving”.
Say ‘no’ to vanity
Pope Francis then warned of the perils of vanity and “the pride of money”. The devil comes through your pockets, warned the Pope: “be poor, as poor are God’s holy faithful people”.
Bringing his homily to a close, Pope Francis recalled that these four forms of closeness are the “path to being shepherds” because “Jesus consoles shepherds, because He is the good shepherd”.
“Seek consolation in Jesus”, concluded the Pope, and “carry the crosses” in your lives. “Do not be afraid”, he said, “everything will be alright”.
Pope: Migrants At Sea Should Never Be Denied Aid
Pope Francis prays for the migrants who died attempting to cross the Mediterranean, describing this as a moment of shame. He also recalls the 82 victims of the fire in a Covid hospital in Baghdad and the pain caused by a volcanic eruption on the islands of St. Vincent and Granadine.
Addressing the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square for the recitation of the Regina Coeli prayer, Pope Francis turned his thoughts to the tragic loss of lives, once again, in the Mediterranean sea. We ought to be ashamed, said the Pope, remembering the 130 victims.
In a heartfelt appeal, Pope Francis assured of his closeness to those people who “for two whole days begged in vain for help. Help that never came”. They are people, said the Pope. Human lives.
The Pope then asked that everyone question themselves “about this umpteenth tragedy”.
It is a moment of shame, continued the Pope, “We pray for these brothers and sisters, and for so many who continue to die on these dramatic journeys. We also pray for those who can help but prefer to look the other way. We pray in silence…”
Prayers for Baghdad and St Vincent & Grenadine
Pope Francis also asked for prayers for the victims in Iraq, of “the fire at a hospital for those suffering from Covid in Baghdad. So far 82 are dead”, noted the Pope.
He then turned his thoughts and closeness to the polulation “of the islands of St. Vincent and Granadine where a volcanic eruption is causing damage and inconvenience.”
The beatification of ten martyrs
Finally, Francis recalled that last Friday in Santa Cruz del Quiché, Guatemala, José María Gran and nine fellow martyrs were beatified, three priests and seven lay people from the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, “killed between 1980 and 1991, a time of persecution against the Catholic Church committed to the defense of the poor.” Animated by faith in Christ, he stressed, “they were heroic witnesses of justice and love. May their example make us more generous and courageous in living the Gospel.”