VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI today began a new series of catecheses for Wednesday general audiences, taking up the theme of prayer and introducing the topic by a look at prayer in ancient cultures. “Virtually always and everywhere, people have turned to God,” he explained.
The Pope announced that he will be catechizing on the prayer “that Jesus taught us and that the Church continues to teach us.”
He said he would base the “school of prayer” on sacred Scripture, fathers of the Church, spirituality masters, and the liturgy.
“It is in Jesus, in fact, that man is made capable of approaching God with the depth and intimacy of the relationship of fatherhood and sonship,” he said in St. Peter’s Square. “Together with the first disciples, we now turn with humble trust to the Master and ask: ‘Lord, teach us to pray.'”
The Bishop of Rome affirmed that “prayer cannot be taken for granted.
“We must learn how to pray,” he said, “almost as if acquiring this art anew; even those who are very advanced in the spiritual life always feel the need to enter the school of Jesus to learn to pray with authenticity.”
The Pontiff went on to introduce the theme with striking examples from Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome.
He spoke of these peoples’ “eloquent expressions of a desire to see God, to experience his mercy and forgiveness, to grow in virtue and to experience divine help in all that we do.”
“The pagan religions, however, remain a plea for divine help,” the Pope said, “an expression of that profound human yearning for God which finds its highest expression and fulfillment in the Old and New Testaments. Divine revelation, in fact, purifies and fulfills man’s innate desire for God and offers us, through prayer, the possibility of a deeper relationship with our heavenly Father.”
“At the beginning of this journey of ours in the ‘school of prayer,'” he concluded, “we now wish to ask the Lord to illumine our minds and hearts so that our relationship with him in prayer is ever more intense, affectionate and constant. Once again, let us say to him: ‘Lord, teach us to pray.”
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