John Paul II Encourages Prayer at the Start of the Day

Comments on Psalm 118(119) During General Audience

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 15, 2003 ( Beginning the day with prayer is the best way to face life’s joys and difficulties, since it enables us to live close to God, says John Paul II.

The Pope dedicated today’s general audience to a meditation on part of the longest Psalm, 118(119), in which the Psalmist rises before dawn to implore divine help. About 3,000 pilgrims attended the audience in Paul VI Hall.

The Pope’s hope for all believers was «that every morning [we] open our eyes on daily life, on its joys and worries, invoking God so that he will be close to us and guide us with his word, which infuses serenity and grace.»

The Psalm, found in the liturgy of lauds, invites us to invoke the help of God relentlessly. Prayer, the Pope said, is like «a dialogue, which begins when it is already night and the dawn has yet to arise, and continues throughout the day, in particular in the difficulties of life.»

«At times the horizon is dark and stormy,» he said. Quoting from the Psalm he added: «‘Malicious persecutor draw near me; they are far from your teaching.'»

«However,» the Holy Father continued, «the one who prays has an unbreakable certainty, the closeness of God with his word and his grace.»

John Paul II offered at the end a Christian reading of the biblical Psalm, proposed by St. Ambrose (340-397), bishop of Milan.

This Father of the Church invites the believer to begin the day with prayer, because in this way Christ will be «the first light that shines in the secret of your heart,» recalling that life must be lived in constant prayer.

«Whether we eat, or drink, we proclaim Christ, pray to Christ, think of Christ, speak of Christ! May Christ always be in our heart and on our lips!» the Pope said, quoting St. Ambrose.

The catechesis was a continuation of the series of meditations that John Paul II has dedicated to the Psalms and canticles of the Old Testament. They may be consulted in ZENIT’s Web page, in the «Wednesday’s Audience» section.

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