Canticle Helps Us Contemplate Resurrection, Pope Says

Focuses on Hymn of the 3 Young Men in Book of Daniel

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 2, 2001 ( The cosmic dimension of prayer, and of the liberation brought by Jesus with his resurrection, was the focus of John Paul II´s address at today´s general audience.

Addressing the 20,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter´s Square, the Pontiff commented on the canticle of the three Israelite youths, condemned to die in a burning furnace for refusing to adore a golden statue of Nebuchadnezzar. As the Book of Daniel recounts, God saved them from death.

This thanksgiving hymn, found in the book, is also, for Christians, a unique inspiration for their prayer, the Bishop of Rome explained.

Repeating «the canticle of the three Israelite youths, we disciples of Christ want to be on the same wave of gratitude for the great works accomplished by God, be it in creation or, especially, in the paschal mystery,» the Pope explained.

The general-audience address continued the Pope´s catechetical talks on prayer and the biblical Psalms and canticles which make up the Liturgy of the Hours.

Experiencing the liberation brought to him by Christ, the Christian also gives a «cosmic dimension» to his prayer, the Pontiff explained. The Bible offers wonderful words in this respect, he said.

«One looks up at the sun, the moon, the stars,» the Pope said, «looks down on the expanse of waters, and up toward the mountains, lingers on the most diverse atmospheric situations; passes from heat to cold, from light to darkness; considers the mineral and vegetable world, gazes at the different species of animals.»

«The appeal then becomes universal,» he continued. «It calls the angels of God, gathers all the sons of man, but particularly involves Israel, the people of God, its priests, its just men. It is an immense chorus, a symphony in which the different voices raise their song to God, creator of the universe and Lord of history.»

Christ offers the Christian the «full meaning of creation itself,» the Holy Father said. «The history of salvation culminates in the resurrection of Christ, opening human affairs to the gift of the Spirit and filial adoption, while awaiting the return of the divine Spouse, who will deliver the world to God the Father.»

In this light, one looks at creation «with new eyes, and … enjoy[s] its beauty, in which one can see, as through filigree, the love of God.» This was a conviction that undoubtedly inspired St. Francis of Assisi, when he composed his unforgettable «Canticle to Brother Sun,» the Pope said.

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