VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 12, 2012 ( Benedict XVI says that there is no such thing as a superfluous or useless prayer since not even one of them is lost to God.

The Pope said this today as he continued his catechesis on prayer in the book of Revelation.

He analyzed the three symbols found in Chapters 4 and 5 -- the throne of God, the Lamb and the book (4:1-5:14) -- in relation to the path for interpreting the facts of history and of our own lives in the light of God.

"By raising our gaze to God's heaven in a constant relationship with Christ, by opening our hearts and our minds to him in personal and communal prayer, we learn to see things in a new way and to grasp their truest meaning," the Holy Father said. "Prayer is like an open window that allows us to keep our gaze turned toward God, not only for the purpose of reminding us of the goal toward which we are directed, but also to allow the will of God to illumine our earthly journey and to help us to live it with intensity and commitment."

The Pope explained that the first step in a deeper reading of history is a realistic consideration of the present moment.

He noted: "Therefore, the Lamb opens the four first seals of the book, and the Church sees the world in which it is inserted, a world in which various negative elements exist. There the evils that man commits, such as violence, which comes from the desire to possess, to prevail against one another to the point of killing one another (second seal); or injustice, as men fail to respect the laws that are given them (third seal). To these are added the evils that man must undergo, such as death, hunger and sickness (fourth seal)."

Even if faced with such realities, the Pope continued, "the ecclesial community is invited to never lose hope, to believe firmly that the apparent omnipotence of the Evil One collides with the true omnipotence, which is God's."

Sweet aroma

Benedict also spoke of the symbolism in the angel holding a golden censer in which he continually places grains of incense, "i.e. our prayers, whose sweet aroma is offered together with the prayers that rise before God" (Revelation 8:1-4).

This, the Pope said, "is a symbolism that tells us how all of our prayers -- with all the limits, difficulty, poverty, aridity and imperfections they may have -- are as it were purified and reach the heart of God. We must be certain, therefore, that there are no superfluous, useless prayers; not one of them is lost. And they find a response -- even if it is oftentimes mysterious -- because God is Love and infinite Mercy."

When Revelation speaks of the angel taking the censer and throwing it to earth, this image, according to the Pontiff, "signifies that God is not indifferent to our prayers; he intervenes and makes his power felt and his voice heard on the earth, he makes the systems of Evil tremble and disrupts them."

The Bishop of Rome suggested in this context that prayer is the most important response to evil.

"Often, when faced with evil, we feel incapable of doing anything, but prayer is the first and most effective response that we can give and that strengthens our daily commitment to spreading goodness," he said. "The power of God makes our weakness fruitful."

--- --- ---

On ZENIT's Web page:

Full text: