VATICAN CITY, JUNE 15, 2011 ( Benedict XVI today continued his series of teachings on prayer, drawing on the Prophet Elijah to speak about the commandment to adore God alone. "True adoration is love," the Pope said.

The Holy Father turned to Chapter 18 of 1 Kings for a lesson on prayer drawn from the prophet. There, the story of Elijah's face-off with the ministers of Baal is recounted.

This is a confrontation, the Bishop of Rome said, that in reality "is between the Lord of Israel, the God of salvation and of life, and a mute and empty idol that can do nothing, neither good nor evil."

It is also a confrontation, he said, "between two completely different ways of turning to God and ways of prayer."

Elijah's method of prayer includes asking the people to come near, "thereby involving them in his action and in his petition."

"His request is that the people finally know -- and know in fullness -- who truly is their God, and that they make the decisive choice to follow him alone, the true God," the Pontiff explained. "For only in this way is God acknowledged as he truly is – Absolute and Transcendent -- without the possibility of putting him next to other gods, which would deny him as the Absolute by relativizing him."

"By his intercession, Elijah asks of God what God himself desires to do -- reveal himself in all his mercy, faithful to his own reality as the Lord of life who forgives, converts and transforms," he added.


Benedict XVI said that what is in question in this account is "the priority of the first commandment: to adore God alone."

"Where God disappears, man falls into the slavery of idolatry, as the totalitarian regimes of our own time have demonstrated, along with the various forms of nihilism that make man dependent upon idols, upon idolatry -- they enslave him."

It is also, he continued, about the primary goal of prayer: conversion.

"The fire of God transforms our hearts and makes us capable of seeing God, of living according to God and of living for the other."

Finally, it is a foreshadowing of the future, the fulfillment in Christ: "Here we see the true fire of God: the love that leads the Lord all the way to the cross, to the total gift of himself," the Pope noted.

"True adoration of God, then, is to give oneself to God and to men -- true adoration is love," he reflected. "And true adoration of God does not destroy, but renews. Certainly, the fire of God, the fire of love burns, transforms, purifies, but it is precisely in this way that it does not destroy but rather creates the truth of our being, recreates our hearts. 

"And thus, truly alive by the grace of the fire of the Holy Spirit, of God's love, may we be adorers in spirit and in truth."

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