VATICAN CITY, APRIL 28, 2004 ( In moments of loneliness or when losing dear ones, the believer knows that he is never alone and that God loves him with maternal tenderness, says John Paul II.

The Pope offered that reflection at today's general audience, as he continued his series of reflections on the Psalms and canticles of the Liturgy of Vespers, the evening prayer of the Church.

At the audience attended by 15,000 pilgrims in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father focused on Psalm 26(27):7-14, a prayer full of confidence in God in times of danger.

"Let us remind all elderly, sick people, forgotten by all, to whom no one will ever show tenderness, of these words of the Psalmist and of the prophet, so that they will feel the paternal and maternal hand of the Lord silently touch with love their suffering faces, perhaps streaming with tears," the Holy Father said with a shaky voice.

The passage presents "the nightmare" of enemies described as "beasts that roar at their prey" or as "lying witnesses" who "seem to breathe out violence from their nostrils, just as wild beasts before their victims."

In "the world there is an aggressive evil, which is led and inspired by Satan," the Pope said. In this situation, however, the biblical passage presents "the serene trust of the faithful one, despite being forsaken by his parents."

"Can a woman forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you," the Pope said, quoting Isaiah 49:15.

"God's face is the object of the man of prayer's spiritual quest," which includes "the mystical need of divine intimacy through prayer," he added.

"In the liturgy and in personal prayer, we are given the grace of intuiting that face that we will never be able to see directly during our earthly life," John Paul II said.

"But Christ has revealed to us, in an accessible way, the divine face and has promised that in the final encounter of eternity -- as St. John reminds us -- 'we shall see him as he is,'" the Holy Father added.

The Pope concluded by quoting St. Augustine: "'I will not seek something of little worth, but your face, O Lord, to love you freely, given that I do not find anything more precious.'"

John Paul II's other commentaries on the Psalms and canticles of vespers are in the Wednesday's Audience section of ZENIT's Web page.