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Angelus Address: On Christian Prayer

‘It’s a Dialogue between Persons That Love Each Other; a Dialogue Based on Trust, Supported by Listening and Open to Solidary Commitment’

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Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave July 28, 2019, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
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Before the Angelus:
 Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
In today’s Gospel page (Cf. Luke 11:1-13), Saint Luke narrates the circumstances in which Jesus teaches the “Our Father” to His disciples. They already know how to pray, reciting the formulas of the Hebrew tradition, but they also want to live the same “quality” of Jesus’ prayer. They can see that prayer is an essential dimension in the life of the Teacher; in fact, every important action of His is characterized by prolonged pauses of prayer. Moreover, they are fascinated because they see that He doesn’t pray as the other teachers of prayer of the time, but His prayer is an intimate bond with the Father, so much so that they want to be participants in these moments of union with God to savor its sweetness completely.
So, one day, waiting for Jesus to finish His prayer in a place apart, they then ask Him: “Lord, teach us to pray” (v. 1). Responding to the disciples’ explicit request, Jesus doesn’t give an abstract definition of prayer or teach an effective technique to pray and “obtain” something. Instead, He invites His own to have an experience of prayer, putting them directly in communication with the Father, arousing in them nostalgia for a personal relationship with Him, with the Father. Here is the novelty of Christian prayer! It’s a dialogue between persons that love each other; a dialogue that is based on trust, supported by listening and open to solidary commitment. It’s a dialogue of the Son with the Father, a dialogue between children and the Father. This is Christian prayer.
Therefore, He gives them the prayer of the “Our Father,” which is one of the most precious gifts left to us by the Divine Teacher in His earthly mission. After having revealed His mystery of Son and brother, with this prayer Jesus makes us penetrate in God’s paternity and He shows us the way to enter into prayerful and direct dialogue with Him, through the way of filial trust. It’s a dialogue between a Daddy and his child and of the child with his Daddy. What we ask for in the “Our Father” is already realized and given to us in the Only-Begotten Son: the sanctification of the Name, the coming of the Kingdom, the gift of bread, of forgiveness and of freedom from evil. While we ask, we open our hand to receive. To receive the gifts that the Father has made us see in the Son. The prayer that the Lord taught us is the synthesis of every prayer, and we address it to the Father always in communion with brethren. Sometimes it happens that there are distractions in prayer, however, many times we feel the desire to pause on the first word: “Father,” and to feel that paternity in our heart.
Then Jesus tells the parable of the importunate friend, and, Jesus says: “it’s necessary to insist in prayer.” There comes to mind what children who are three or three and a half years old do: they begin to ask for things they don’t understand. In my land, it’s called “the age of the why,” I believe it’s the same here. The children begin to look at the Dad and say: “Daddy, why? Daddy, why?” They ask for explanations. We are careful: when Dad begins to explain why they ask another question without listening to the whole explanation. What’s going on? It happens that children feel insecure about so many things, which they begin to understand in part. They only want to attract their Dad’s look on them and so they ask: “Why, why, why?” In the Our Father, we, if we pause on the first word, will do the same thing as we did when we were children, to attract the Father’s look on us. We’ll say: “Father, Father, and also say: “Why?” And He will look at us.
Let us ask Mary, woman of prayer, to help us to pray to the Father united to Jesus to live the Gospel, guided by the Holy Spirit.
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]  
After the Angelus:
 Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I learned with grief the news of the tragic shipwreck, which happened in past days in the waters of the Mediterranean, in which dozens of migrants lost their lives, among them women and children. I renew my heartfelt appeal to the International Community to act promptly and decisively to avoid the repetition of similar tragedies and to guarantee the safety and dignity of all. I invite you to pray, together with me, for the victims and for their families. And also ask from the heart: “Father, why?” [A minute of silence followed] I greet you all, Romans and pilgrims of Italy and of various parts of the world: the families, the parish groups and the Associations.
In particular, I greet the Sisters of Saint Elizabeth from various countries, the AVART International Organization of Mexican Art and Culture of Puebla, Mexico, and the young people of Saint Rita of Cascia parish of Turin. I see an Uruguayan flag, but I don’t see the mate! Welcome! I also greet the many Poles I see here with the flags and also the group of Spaniards.
I wish you all a happy Sunday and, please, don’t forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and goodbye!
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester] © Libreria Editrice Vatican

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Virginia Forrester

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