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Holy Father’s February 12 General Audience: Full Text

Continued Commentary on Beatitudes

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This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:15 am in Paul VI Hall, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.

Continuing with the new series of catecheses on the Beatitudes, in his address in Italian the Pope focused his meditation on the second Beatitude: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). (Biblical passage: From the Book of the Prophet Zechariah 12:10).

After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present. Then he invited to pray for the tragic situation of Syria, and for the Chinese population affected by the epidemic.

The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.

* * *

The Holy Father’s Catechesis

 Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

We have undertaken the journey in the Beatitudes and today we pause on the second: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

In the Greek language, in which the Gospel is written, this Beatitude is expressed with a verb that isn’t the passive — in fact, the Blessed don’t suffer this mourning — but in the active: they are afflicted.” They mourn but from within. It’s an attitude that became central in Christina spirituality and that the Desert Fathers, the first monks of history, called “penthos,” an interior sorrow that opens to a relationship with the Lord and with one’s neighbor — to a renewed relationship with the Lord and with one’s neighbor.

In the Scriptures, this mourning can have two aspects: the first is for the death or the suffering of someone. The other aspect is the tears for sin — for one’s own sin, when the heart bleeds for having offended God and one’s neighbor. Hence, it’s about loving the other in such a way as to bind oneself to him or her to share his pain. There are persons that remain distant, take a step back. Instead, it’s important that others break through our hearts.

I have spoken often of the gift of tears, and how precious it is.[1] Can one love coldly? Can one love out of function, out of duty? Certainly not; there are the afflicted to console, but sometimes there are also the consoled to be afflicted, to awaken the people that are unable to be moved by others’ pain.

Mourning, for instance, is a bitter path, but it can be useful to open the eyes on life and on the sacred and irreplaceable value of every person, and in that moment one realizes how brief time is.

There is a second meaning of this paradoxical Beatitude: to weep for sin. It’s necessary to make a distinction here: there are those that get angry because they were wrong, but this is pride. Instead, there are those who weep for the harm done, for the good omitted, for the betrayal of the relationship with God. This is the sorrow for not having loved, which flows from having others’ life at heart. Here one weeps because one doesn’t correspond to the Lord, who loves us so much, and the thought saddens one for the good not done. This is the sense of sin. They say: “I have wounded him that I love,” and this pains one to the point of tears. God be blessed if these tears come!

This is the subject of one’s errors to be faced — difficult but vital. We think of Saint Peter’s tears, which led him to a new and much truer love: it’s a crying that purifies, that renews. Peter looked at Jesus and wept: his heart was renewed. As opposed to Judas, who didn’t accept his having erred and, poor thing, committed suicide. It’s a gift of God to understand sin; it’s a work of the Holy Spirit. On our own, we can’t understand sin. It’s a grace for which we must pray. Lord, that I may understand the evil I’ve done or that I can do. This is a very great gift and, after having understood this, the weeping of repentance comes.

One of the early monks, Ephrem the Syrian, says that a face bathed by tears is unspeakably beautiful (Cf. Ascetic Address). The beauty of repentance, the beauty of weeping, the beauty of contrition! As ever, Christian life has its best expression in mercy. Wise and blessed is he that accepts the pain linked to love, because he will receive the consolation of the Holy Spirit that is the tenderness of God, who forgives and corrects. God always forgives: let’s not forget this. God always forgives, even the most awful sins, always. The problem lies in us, who get tired of asking for pardon. We close ourselves in ourselves and don’t ask for forgiveness. This is the problem, but He is there to forgive. If we always keep present that God ”does not deal with us according to our sins, nor requite us according to our iniquities” (Psalm103:10), we live in mercy and in compassion, and love appears in us. May the Lord grant us to love in abundance, to love with a smile, with closeness, with service and also with tears.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

© Libreria Editrice Vatican


In Italian

  A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking faithful. In particular, I greet the participants in the pilgrimage of the devotees of the Holy House of Loreto Shrine, with the Archbishop, Monsignor Fabio Dal Cin; and those of the Archdiocese of Trani-Barletta-Bisceglie — these are noisy! They are enthusiastic! — and of the Coldiretti of San Ferdinando of Puglia, accompanied by the Archbishop, Monsignor Leonardo D’Ascenzo. Moreover, I greet the parish groups and the educational institutions. Finally, I greet the young people, the elderly, the sick and the newlyweds. May the Lord always support you with His grace, so that you can be constant in hope, entrusting every day to God’s Providence.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

© Libreria Editrice Vatican


The Holy Father’s Appeal

 I would like us all to pray at this moment for beloved and martyred Syria. So many families, so many elderly, children must flee from the war. Syria has been bleeding for years. Let us pray for Syria.

Let us also pray for our Chinese brothers that are suffering this very cruel sickness. May the way of healing be found as soon as possible.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

[1] Cf. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit, 76; Address to Young People of Saint Thomas University, Manila, January 18, 2015; Homily on Ash Wednesday, February 18, 2015.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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Virginia Forrester

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