This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:20 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.
Continuing with the series of catecheses on the “Our Father,” the Pope focused his meditation on “Hallowed Be Thy Name” (Biblical passage: From the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel 36:22.23).
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.
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The Holy Father’s Catechesis
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
It seems like winter is going away and so we have returned to the Square. Welcome to the Square! In our course of rediscovery of the “Our Father” prayer, today we will reflect further on the first of its seven invocations, namely, “hallowed be Thy Name.”
There are seven requests in the “Our Father,” which are easily divisible into two subgroups. The first three have at the center the “Thou” of God the Father; the other four have “us” at the center and our human needs. In the first part Jesus makes us enter in His desires, all addressed to the Father: “hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done”; in the second it’s He who enters us and makes Himself interpreter of our needs: daily bread, forgiveness of sin, help in temptation and deliverance from evil.
Here is the matrix of every Christina prayer — I’d say of every human prayer –, which is always made, on one hand, of contemplation of God, of His mystery, of His beauty and goodness and, on the other, of the sincere and courageous request of what we need to live, and live well. Thus, in its simplicity and essentialness, the “Our Father” educates the one who prays it not to multiply vain words because — as Jesus Himself says — “your Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8).
When we speak with God, we don’t do so to reveal to Him what we have in our heart: He knows it better than we do ourselves! If God is a mystery for us, we, instead, aren’t an enigma to His eyes (Cf. Psalm 139:1-4). God is like those mothers who only need one look to understand everything about their children: if they are happy or sad, if they are sincere or are hiding something…
The first step of Christian prayer, therefore, is our giving ourselves to God, to His Providence, it’s as if saying: “Lord, You know all, there isn’t even a need to tell you my pain. I only ask You to be next to me: You are my hope.” It’s interesting to note that, in the discourse on the mountain, immediately after transmitting the text of the “Our Father,” Jesus exhorts us not to be worried or anxious about things. It seems like a contradiction: first He teaches us to ask for our daily bread and then He says to us: “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or “What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’” (Matthew 6:31). However, the contradiction is only apparent: a Christian’s requests express trust in the Father, and it is precisely this trust that makes us ask for what we need without anxiety or agitation.
It’s because of this that we pray saying: “Hallowed be Thy Name!” Felt, in this request — the first! “Hallowed be Thy Name!” is Jesus’ whole admiration for the beauty and grandeur of the Father, and the desire that all recognize Him and love Him for what He really is. And, at the same time, there is the supplication that His Name be sanctified in us, in our family, in our community, in the whole world. It is God who sanctifies, who transforms us with His love, but at the same time it is also we who, with our witness, manifest God’s holiness in the world, rendering His Name present. God is holy, but if we, if our life isn’t holy, there is a great incoherence! God’s holiness must be mirrored in our actions, in our life. “I’m a Christian, God is holy, but I do so many awful things.” No, this isn’t right. This even does harm; it scandalizes and doesn’t help.
God’s holiness is an expanding force, and we entreat that the barriers of our world be quickly shattered. When Jesus begins to preach, the first to pay the consequences is in fact the evil that afflicts man. The evil spirits swear: “What have You to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are, the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:24). Such holiness had never been seen before: not preoccupied with itself but turned to the external. A holiness — that of Jesus — that widens in concentric circles, as when a stone is thrown into a pond. The days of evil are counted — evil isn’t eternal –, and evil can no longer hurt us: the strong man has arrived who takes possession of his house (Cf. Mark 3:23-27). And this strong man is Jesus, who gives us also the strength to take possession of our interior house.
Prayer chases away every fear. The Father loves us, the Son raises His arms supporting ours <and> the Spirit works in secret for the redemption of the world. And we? We don’t hesitate in uncertainty, but we have a great certainty: God loves me, Jesus gave His life for me! The Spirit is within me. This is the great certain thing. And evil? It’s afraid, and this is good.[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
The Holy Father:
I greet affectionately the Croatian pilgrims, among them the seminarians, the students and the Professors of the Catholic Theological Faculty of Djakovo. Dear friends, I encourage you to dedicate yourselves diligently and passionately to your studies to be “prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Above all, I exhort you to integrate your intellectual work with your personal and ecclesial life. May this Lent be a favourable time to renew the dedication of your heart and of your mind to the Lord. Praised be Jesus and Mary![Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking faithful.
I’m happy to receive the pilgrims of the Diocese of Mantua, with the Bishop, Monsignor Gianmarco Busca; the Parish groups, in particular those of Alife, accompanied by the Bishop, Monsignor Valentino Di Cerbo; of Gubbio and of Saint Vitus of the Normans.
I greet the Delegation of the Benedictine Torch, with the Archbishop of Spoleto-Norcia, Monsignor Renato Boccardo.
A particular thought goes to young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds.
I hope that for each one of you your pilgrimage to the tombs of the Holy Apostles is an encouragement to spread enthusiastically the perennial novelty of the salvific message brought by Christ to every man, beginning with the most distant and disinherited.
[ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
© Libreria Editrice Vatican