It isn’t a common word or one many think of in a religious context. But Pope Francis spoke of the Apostle Paul and his use of “moan”, the Holy Father’s comments coming to a gathering of priests, religious, consecrated, and seminarians in the Cathedral of Kaunas on September 23, 2018.
The Pope spoke of Paul’s proclamation of hope in the Lord: “God makes all things work together for the good of those who love him” (Rom 8:28).
But first, there is much “moaning”. And the moaning comes in the effort to escape the enslavement of corruption and the yearning for fulfillment.
“Paul repeats three times the word ‘moan’: creation moans, men and women moan, the Spirit moans within us (cf. Rom 8:22-23.26),” Francis explained. Today we would do well to ask if we ourselves moan inwardly, or whether our hearts are still, no longer yearning for the living God.
“Ours should be the longing of the deer for springs of water as we seek God’s mystery, his truth, and his beauty.”
The Holy Father warned that even the consecrated and religious to whom he spoke could lose that yearning in a society with so many distractions, services, and material objects. These things can leave us “stuffed” – but not fulfilled.
“No instant news, no virtual communication can substitute for our need of concrete, prolonged and regular moments – calling for sustained effort – of daily dialogue with the Lord through prayer and adoration,” Francis said. “We need to keep cultivating our desire for God.”
The Holy Father also spoke of another type of moaning that can arise within us today:
“This moaning can also come from our contemplation of the world around us, as a protest against the unsatisfied needs of our poorest brothers and sisters, before the absence of meaning in the lives of our young, the loneliness experienced by the elderly, the misuse of creation. It is a moaning that would mobilize efforts to shape events in our nation, in our cities, not by acting as a pressure group or in a bid for power, but in service to all.
“Listening to God’s voice in prayer makes us see, hear and feel the pain of others, in order to set them free. Yet we should also be concerned when our people stop groaning when they stop seeking water to quench their thirst. At those times, we need to discern what is silencing the voice of our people. The cry that makes us turn to God in prayer and adoration is the same that makes us sensitive to the plea of our brothers and sisters.”