By Lydia O'Kane
Following the Easter celebrations, Pope Francis on Wednesday continued his catechesis on Christian prayer during the General Audience, focusing this week on the Communion of Saints.
He explained that whenever we pray, we are never alone, but find ourselves immersed in a great stream of past, present and future intercession for the needs of individuals and of the whole world.
Expansive power of Prayer
We pray together with all the saints in the communion of the Body of Christ which is the Church, the Pope said, adding that those good prayers are “expansive,” “they propagate themselves continuously, with or without being posted on social networks: from hospital wards, from moments of festive gatherings to those in which we suffer silently.”
“One person’s pain is everyone’s pain, and one person’s happiness is transmitted to someone else’s soul,” he added.
Intercession of the saints
Pope Francis noted, “Prayer is always born again: each time we join our hands and open our hearts to God, we find ourselves in the company of anonymous saints and recognized saints who pray with us and who intercede for us as older brothers and sisters who have preceded us on this same human adventure.”
“There is no grief in the Church that is borne in solitude,” he underlined, “there are no tears shed in oblivion, because everyone breaths and participates in one common grace.”
Great cloud of witnesses
The Pope described the saints as this "great cloud of witnesses" both known and unknown who ceaselessly pray with us and for us in giving glory to God. "Our veneration of the saints draws us closer to Jesus, the sole Mediator between man and God," he said.
Never too late to convert to holiness
Pope Francis went on to say that the saints “remind us that even in our lives, however weak and marked by sin, holiness can unfold. It is never too late to be converted to the Lord who is good and great in love.” In Christ too, he continued, “we sense a mysterious solidarity with our loved ones who have died, for whom we continue to pray.”
In off the cuff remarks, the Pope noted, "Holiness is a life journey, an encounter with Jesus, whether long or short, whether in an instant. But always it is a witness; a saint is a witness, of a man, a woman, who met Jesus and followed Jesus.” He also highlighted that here on earth there are to be found “the saints next door.”
Giving a hand
The Pope emphasized that the intercession of the saints “is their most exalted service to God’s plan” and we can and should “ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.”
Dwelling on loved ones who have passed from this life, Pope Francis said, “There is a mysterious solidarity in Christ between those who have already passed to the other life and we pilgrims in this one: from Heaven, our beloved deceased continue to take care of us. They pray for us and we pray for them.”
The Pope stressed that the saints are there to “’give us a hand’ to obtain the grace from God that we need.”
Divine Mercy Sunday
Concluding his catechesis and addressing the Polish-speaking faithful, the Pope recalled that next Sunday the Church will celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy, instituted by St John Paul II. Pope Francis said "that the liturgy of this Sunday seems to outline the path of mercy which, while reconstructing the relationship of each person with God, also arouses among men new relationships of fraternal solidarity." Man, in fact, receives God's mercy, "but he is also called to 'use mercy' toward others." Let us ask, said the Pope, for "the grace of forgiveness and of working love toward our neighbour."