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Holy Father’s General Audience: Full Text

Pope Francis Continues Commentary on ‘Our Father’

This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:15 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.

Taking up the series of catecheses on the “Our Father,” in his address in Italian the Pope focused his meditation on “Forgive us our trespasses” (Biblical passage: from the First Letter of the Apostle Saint John 1:8-9).

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 day isn’t so beautiful, but good morning anyway!

After asking God for daily bread, the “Our Father” prayer enters the area of our relations with others. And Jesus teaches us to ask the Father: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matthew 6:12). Just as we have need of bread so, also, we have need of forgiveness, and this every day.

The Christian who prays asks God, first of all, to forgive his trespasses, namely, his sins, the bad things he does. This is the first truth of every prayer: even if we were perfect persons, even if we were crystalline saints who never deflect from a life of goodness, we always remain children who owe all to the Father.

What is the most dangerous attitude of every Christian life? It’s pride. It’s the attitude of one who puts himself before God thinking that he always has his accounts with Him in order. The proud <person> believes he has everything in its place. As that Pharisee of the parable, who thinks of praying in the Temple but in reality praises himself before God: “I thank you, Lord because I’m not like the others.” And people who think they are perfect, who criticize others are proud people.  Not one of us is perfect, not one. The publican, on the contrary, who was behind, in the Temple, a sinner held in contempt by all, stops on the threshold of the Temple and doesn’t feel worthy to enter, and entrusts himself to God’s mercy. And Jesus comments: “He, as opposed to the other, went home justified” (Luke 18:14), namely, forgiven, saved. Why?  — because he wasn’t proud; because he acknowledged his limitations and his sins.

There are sins that are seen and sins that aren’t seen. There are blatant sins that make noise, but there are also subtle sins, which nest in the heart without our even realizing it. The worst of these is pride, which can infect even persons that live an intense religious life. There was once in a Convent of Sisters, in the years 1600-1700, famous, at the time of Jansenism: they were perfect and it was said of them that they were pure as the angels but proud as the devils. It’s an awful thing. Sin divides fraternity; sin makes us presume that we are better than others; sin makes us believe we are similar to God. And, instead, before God, we are all sinners and we have reason to beat our breast,  — all of us! as that publican in the Temple. In his First Letter, Saint John writes: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). If you want to deceive yourself, say that you have no sin: so you are deceiving yourself.

We are debtors, first of all, because we have received so much in this life: existence, a father and a mother, friendship, the wonders of Creation . . . Even if it happens to all to go through difficult days, we must always remember that life is a grace, it’s a miracle that God extracted from nothing.

In the second place, we are debtors because, even if we succeed in loving, none of us is able to do so with his/her own strength. True love is when we can love, but with God’s grace. None of us shines with his/her own light. There is what the ancient theologians called a “mysterium lunae” not only in the identity of the Church but also in the history of each one of us. What does this “mysterium lunae” mean?  That it is like the moon, which does not have its own light: it reflects the light of the sun. We also don’t have our own light: the light we have is a reflection of the grace of God, of the light of God. If you love it’s because someone, outside of you, smiled at you when you were a child, teaching you to respond with a smile. If you love, it’s because someone next to you has awakened you to love, making you understand how the meaning of existence resides in that.

Let us try to listen to the story of a person who has made a mistake: a prisoner, a condemned man, a drug addict . . . we know so many people who make mistakes in life. Without prejudice to the responsibility, which is always personal, you sometimes wonder who must be blamed for his mistakes, if it’s only his conscience or a history of hatred and abandonment that someone carries behind him.

And this is the mystery of the moon: we love first of all because we have been loved; we forgive because we have been forgiven. And if the sun’s light hasn’t illuminated someone, he becomes frozen like the ground in winter.

In the chain of love that precedes us, how can we not also recognize the provident presence of God’s love? No one of us loves God as He has loved us. Suffice it to place oneself before a crucifix to understand the disproportion. He has loved us and always loves us first.

Therefore, let’s pray: Lord, even the holiest in our midst doesn’t cease to be your debtor. O, Father, have mercy on us all!

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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

 In Italian

 A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking pilgrims.

I’m happy to receive the women religious taking part in the Course of the Union of Major Superiors of Italy and of the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences Auxilium.

I greet the parish groups, especially those of Codivara and of San Marco di Castellabate; the relatives of deceased military men abroad in peacetime; the San Niccolo Conservatory of Prato and the school Institutes, in particular, that of Grottammare.

A special thought goes to young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds. We are concluding the Lenten journey. The light and consolation of the Lord’s Easter are now close. Full of joy and hope, let us prepare ourselves to make Christ’s sentiments our own and to live in fullness the days of the Passion and Glorification.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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

About Virginia Forrester

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