By Seàn-Patrick Lovett
The Pope was greeting pilgrims and visitors from Syria, the Holy Land and the Middle East present at the General Audience on Wednesday, when he improvised yet another appeal for what he called that “martyred nation”.
Praying for persecuted Christians
“We must pray for these brothers and sisters of ours”, he said, “and for all persecuted Christians”.
The UN Security Council has called for a ceasefire in order to allow humanitarian aid to reach the most affected areas. But reports from Syria claim that fighting is continuing despite the truce.
General Audience held in two locations
Given the number of people wanting to see Pope Francis, and keeping in mind the freezing temperatures in Rome these days, this week’s General Audience was held in the Paul VI Audience Hall, as usual, and subsequently in St Peter’s Basilica.
Here, the Pope’s remarks centred on the Lenten journey, describing it as a chance to make a “determined effort at conversion and spiritual renewal for a reawakening of authentic faith”. Pope Francis reminded those present that “love is the style of life that distinguishes the believer”.
The Liturgy of the Eucharist
The main theme of the Pope’s catechesis this week was on the Liturgy of the Eucharist which begins, he said, with the “preparation of the gifts of bread and wine”. This rite, he added, “invites us to present our own lives as a spiritual offering”.
“At every Mass”, concluded Pope Francis, “may we experience the Preparation of the Gifts as an invitation to offer our lives completely to the Lord, in order to receive from him the grace to live ever more fully our vocation to grow in holiness and to serve the coming of his Kingdom.”