Donate now

© Vatican Media

GENERAL AUDIENCE: On the Commandments & Keeping the Lord’s Day

‘It’s the time to look at reality and say: how beautiful life is! To rest as flight from reality…’

This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:20 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.

Continuing with the series of catecheses on the Commandments, in his address in Italian the Pope focused his meditation on the day of rest (Biblical passage from the Book of Exodus 20:8-11).

After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present.

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!

The journey through the Decalogue takes us today to the Commandment on the day of rest. It seems to be a command easy to fulfil, however, it’s an erroneous impression. To truly rest isn’t simple, because there is false rest and true rest. How to recognize them?

Today’s society is thirsty for amusements and vacations. The industry of entertainment is flourishing and advertising designs the ideal world as a great games park where all our entertained. The concept of life dominating today doesn’t have its center of gravity in activity and commitment but in evasion. Earn to have a good time, to be satisfied. The model-image is that of a successful person who can allow himself ample and diverse areas of pleasure. However, this mentality makes one slide to the dissatisfaction of an existence anesthetized by amusement that isn’t rest, but alienation and flight from reality. Man has never rested as much as today, yet man has never experienced so much emptiness as today! The possibility of having a good time, of going out, cruises, trips, so many things don’t give one fullness of heart. What’s more, they don’t give one rest.

The words of the Decalogue seek and find the heart of the problem, casting a different light on what rest is. The Command has a peculiar element: it gives a motivation. Rest in the name of the Lord has a specific motive: “For in six days the Lord made Heaven and earth, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:11).

This refers to the end of Creation, when God says: “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). And then the day of rest began, which is God’s joy for all He created. It’s the day of contemplation and of blessing.

Therefore, what is rest according to this Commandment? It’s the moment of contemplation; it’s the moment of praise, not of evasion.  It’s the time to look at reality and say: how beautiful life is! To rest as flight from reality, the Decalogue opposes rest as blessing of reality. For us Christians, the center of the Lord’s day, Sunday, is the Eucharist, which means “thanksgiving.” It’s the day to say to God: thank you, Lord, for life, for your mercy, for all your gifts. Sunday isn’t the day to cancel the other days but to recall them, bless them and make peace with life. How many people who have so many possibilities to amuse themselves, don’t live in peace with life! Sunday is the day to make peace with life, saying: life is precious: it’s not easy, sometimes it’s painful, but it’s precious.

To be introduced in genuine rest is a work of God in us, but it requires removing oneself from malediction and from its fascination (Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 83). To bow the heart to unhappiness, in fact, stressing reasons for discontent is very easy. Blessing and joy imply openness to the good, which is an adult movement of the heart. The good is loving and never imposes itself. It’s chosen. Peace is chosen; it can’t be imposed and isn’t found by chance. Distancing himself from the bitter crevices of his heart, man is in need of making peace with that from which he flees. It’s necessary to reconcile oneself with one’s history, with the facts that aren’t accepted, with the difficult parts of one’s existence. I ask you: has each one of you been reconciled with his/her history? A question to think about: have I reconciled myself with my history?  True peace, in fact, isn’t to change one’s history but to accept it and value it, as it has been.

How many times we have met sick Christians who have consoled us with a serenity that isn’t found in pleasure-seekers and in hedonists! And we have seen humble and poor people rejoice over small graces with a happiness that knew of eternity.

The Lord says in Deuteronomy: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore, choose life, that you and your descendants may live” (30:19). This choice is the Virgin Mary’s “fiat”, it’s openness to the Holy Spirit, who puts us in the steps of Christ, He who entrusts himself to the Father in the most dramatic moment and thus enters the way that leads to resurrection.

When does life become beautiful? When one begins to think well of it, no matter what our history is. When the gift of a doubt makes way <to> that which all is grace,[1] and that holy thought crumbles the interior wall of dissatisfaction inaugurating genuine rest. Life becomes beautiful when the heart opens to Providence and one truly discovers what the Psalm says: “For God alone my soul waits in silence” (62:1). This phrase of the Psalm is beautiful: “For God alone my soul waits in silence.”

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

In Italian

A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking pilgrims.

In particular, I greet the Fatebenefratelli, the Missionary Sisters Handmaids of the Holy Spirit and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.

I greet the Confirmation youngsters of the Diocese of Verona; the parish groups, in particular, those of Montecosaro Scalo, of Sannicandro and of Caserta, the representatives of the prison of people awaiting trial of Spoleto, the delegation of the Cities of Italian wine; the Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired of Caserta and the Ecclesial Language Group of Rome.

A particular thought goes to young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds.

Next Saturday is the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The feast coincides with the end of summer and of harvests, and it reminds us that God is faithful to His promises and, in Mary Most Holy He has prepared a living temple in which His Son, becoming incarnate, willed to dwell in our midst and acquire salvation for us. God bless you!

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

[1] As Saint Therese of the Child Jesus reminds us, taken up by G. Bernanos, Diary of a Country Priest, Milan, 1965.

About ZENIT Staff

Share this Entry

Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation