Pope Francis I, General Audience 2021:
General Audience, 8 September 2021
Catechesis on the Letter to the Galatians: 8. We are children of God
The Apostle audaciously confirms that the identity received with baptism is so completely new that it prevails over the differences that exist on the ethnic-religious level. That is, he explains it thus: “There is neither Jew nor Greek”, even on the social plain, “there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female” (Galatians 3:28)…
There are many people in the world, many, millions, who do not have the right to eat, who do not have the right to education, who do not have the right to work. They are the new slaves. They are the ones who live on the margins, who are exploited by everyone. Slavery exists even today – let us think a little bit about this. Human dignity is denied to these people. They are slaves. Thus, finally, equality in Christ overcomes the social differences between the two sexes, establishing equality between man and woman which was revolutionary at the time and which needs to be reaffirmed even today. This needs to be reaffirmed even today. How many times we hear expressions that denigrate women! How often we hear: “But no, do not do anything, those are women’s concerns”. But, look, men and women have the same dignity. And it has happened in history, even today, a type of slavery of women: women do not have the same opportunities as men. We have to read what Paul says: we are equal in Christ Jesus.
Pope Francis I (General Audience, 8 September 2021)
1 September 2021 General Audience Pope Francis
Catechesis on the Letter to the Galatians: 7. Foolish Galatians
Even today, people come and harangue us, saying, “No, holiness is in these precepts, in these things, you must do this and that”, and propose an inflexible religiosity, the inflexibility that takes away from us that freedom in the Spirit that Christ’s redemption gives us. Beware of the rigidity they propose to you: be careful. Because behind every inflexibility there is something bad, which is not the Spirit of God. And for this reason, this Letter will help us not to listen to these somewhat fundamentalist proposals that set us back in our spiritual life, and will help us go ahead in the paschal vocation of Jesus. This is what the Apostle reiterates to the Galatians when he reminds them that the Father “supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you” (3:5). He speaks in the present tense, he does not say “the Father has supplied you with the Spirit”, chapter 3, verse 5, no: he says – “supplies”; he does not say, “has worked”, he says “works”. For, despite all the difficulties we may pose to His action, God does not abandon us but rather abides with us in His merciful love. He is like that father who went up onto the terrace every day to see if his son was returning: the love of the Father never tires of us. Let us ask for the wisdom always to be aware of this reality, and to turn away the fundamentalists who propose to us a life of artificial asceticism, far removed from the resurrection of Christ. Asceticism is necessary, but wise asceticism, not artificial.
Pope Francis I (General Audience, 1 September 2021)
25 August 2021 General Audience Pope Francis
Catechesis on the Letter to the Galatians: 6. The dangers of the Law
In the Bible, there are several examples where hypocrisy is contested. A beautiful testimony to counter hypocrisy is that of the elderly Eleazar who was asked to pretend to eat meat sacrificed to the pagan deities in order to save his own life: to pretend that he was eating it when he was not eating it… An honest man: he did not take the path of hypocrisy! What a beautiful episode on which to reflect to distance ourselves from hy-poc-ri-sy! The Gospels, too, report several situations in which Jesus strongly reproaches those who externally appear just, but who internally are filled with falsity and iniquity (cf. Matthew 23:13-29). If you have some time today, pick up the twenty-third chapter of the Gospel of Saint Matthew and see how many times Jesus says: “hypocrites, hypocrites, hypocrites”, and thus reveals what hypocrisy is. 8-)
Hypocrites are people who pretend, flatter and deceive because they live with a mask over their faces and do not have the courage to face the truth. For this reason, they are not capable of truly loving: a hypocrite does not know how to love. They limit themselves to living out of egoism and do not have the strength to show their hearts transparently. There are many situations in which hypocrisy is at work. It is often hidden in the work place where one appears to be friends with one’s colleagues, while competition leads them to stab them in the back. In politics, it is not unusual to find hypocrites who live one way in public and another way in private. Hypocrisy in the Church is particularly detestable; and unfortunately, hypocrisy exists in the Church and there are many hypocritical Christians and ministers. We should never forget the Lord’s words: “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil” (Matthew 5:37).
Brothers and sisters, today, let us think about the hy-poc-ri-sy that Paul condemns, and that Jesus condemns: hy-poc-ri-sy. And let us not be afraid to be truthful, to speak the truth, to hear the truth, to conform ourselves to the truth. In this way, we will be able to love. A hypocrite does not know how to love. To act other than truthfully means jeopardizing the unity of the Church, that unity for which the Lord himself prayed.
Pope Francis I (General Audience, 25 August 2021)
18 August 2021 General Audience Pope Francis
Catechesis on the Letter to the Galatians: 5. The propaedeutic value of the Law
…In summary, the Apostle’s conviction is that the Law certainly possesses a positive function – like the pedagogue in accompanying his ward - but it is a function that is limited in time. It cannot extend its duration too far, because it is linked to the maturation of individuals and their choice of freedom. Once one has come to faith, the Law exhausts its propaedeutic value and must give way to another authority. What does this mean? That after the Law we can say, “We believe in Jesus Christ and do what we want?” No! The Commandments exist, but they do not justify us. What makes us just is Jesus Christ. The Commandments must be observed, but they do not give us justice; there is the gratuitousness of Jesus Christ, the encounter with Jesus Christ that freely justifies us. The merit of faith is receiving Jesus. The only merit: opening the heart. And what do we do with the Commandments? We must observe them, but as an aid to the encounter with Jesus Christ.
This teaching on the value of the law is very important, and deserves to be considered carefully so we do not give way to misunderstandings and take false steps. It is good for us to ask ourselves if we still live in the period in which we need the Law, or if instead we are fully aware of having received the grace of becoming children of God so as to live in love. How do I live? In the fear that if I do not do this, I will go to hell? Or do I live with that hope too, with that joy of the gratuitousness of salvation in Jesus Christ? It is a good question. And also the second: do I disregard the Commandments? No. I observe them, but not as absolutes, because I know that it is Jesus Christ who justifies me.
Pope Francis I (General Audience, 18 August 2021)
11 August 2021 General Audience Pope Francis
Catechesis on the Letter to the Galatians: 4. The Mosaic Law
The Law is a journey, a journey that leads toward an encounter. Paul uses a word, I do not know if it is in the text, a very important word: the law is the “pedagogue” toward Christ, the pedagogue toward faith in Christ, that is, the teacher that leads you by the hand toward the encounter (cf. Galatians 3:24). Those who seek life need to look to the promise and to its fulfilment in Christ.
Pope Francis I (General Audience, 11 August 2021)
04 August 2021 General Audience Pope Francis
Catechesis: 3. There is just one Gospel
A Gospel that is expressed in four verbs: “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and he appeared the Cephas, then to the twelve” (I Corinthians 15: 3-5)…
Faced with such a great gift to the Galatians, the Apostle cannot explain why they might think of accepting another “gospel”, perhaps more sophisticated, more intellectual, I don’t know … but another “gospel”…His first argument points directly to the fact that the preaching carried out by the new missionaries - those who bring novelty, who preach - cannot be the Gospel. On the contrary, it is a proclamation that distorts the true Gospel because it prevents them from attaining the freedom acquired by arriving at faith - this is the key word, isn’t it? - it prevents them from reaching the freedom acquired by coming to faith. The Galatians are still "beginners" and their disorientation is understandable. They do not yet know the complexities of the Mosaic Law and their enthusiasm in embracing faith in Christ leads them to listen to these new preachers, deluding themselves that their message is complementary to Paul’s. And it is not.
…In short, in this labyrinth of good intentions it is necessary to disentangle oneself in order to grasp the supreme truth that is most consistent with the Person and preaching of Jesus and His revelation of the Father's love. This is important: knowing how to discern…The Gospel is Christ’s gift to us, He Himself revealed it to us. It is what gives us life. Thank you.
Pope Francis I (General Audience, 4 August 2021)
30 June 2021 General Audience Pope Francis
Catechesis: Paul, the true apostle
Thinking back on his story, Paul is full of wonder and gratitude. It is as if he wanted to tell the Galatians that he could have been anything but an apostle. He had been brought up as a boy to be a blameless observer of Mosaic Law, and circumstances had led him to fight the disciples of Christ. However, something unexpected had happened: God, by His grace, had revealed to him His Son who had died and rose again, so that he could become a herald among the Gentiles (cf. Galatians 1:15-16).
How inscrutable are the ways of the Lord! We experience this every day, but especially if we think back to the times when the Lord called us. We must never forget the time and the way in which God entered our lives: let us keep fixed in our hearts and minds that encounter with grace, when God changed our existence. How often, in the face of the Lord’s great works, does the question spontaneously arise: but how is it possible that God uses a sinner, a frail and weak person, to do his will? And yet, none of this happens by chance, because everything has been prepared in God’s plan. He weaves our history, the story of each one of us: he weaves our history and, if we correspond with trust to his plan of salvation, we will become aware of it. The calling always implies a mission to which we are destined; that is why we are asked to prepare ourselves seriously, knowing that it is God himself who sends us, it is God himself who supports us with his grace. Brothers and sisters, let us allow ourselves to be led by this awareness: the primacy of grace transforms existence and makes it worthy of being placed at the service of the Gospel. The primacy of grace covers all sins, changes hearts, changes lives, and makes us see new paths. Let us not forget this.
Pope Francis I (General Audience, 30 June 2021)
23 June 2021 General Audience of Pope Francis
Catechesis: Introduction to the Letter to the Galatians
…As someone said, “the vultures come to wreak havoc in the community”. Indeed, some Christians who had come from Judaism had infiltrated, and began to sow theories contrary to the Apostle’s teaching, even going so far as to denigrate him. They began with doctrine — “No to this, yes to that”, and then they denigrated the Apostle. It is the usual method: undermining the authority of the Apostle. As we can see, it is an ancient practice to present oneself at times as the sole possessor of the truth — the pure — and to aim at belittling the work of others, even with slander. These opponents of Paul argued that even the Gentiles had to be circumcised and live according to the rules of Mosaic Law…
…Today too, as then, there is a temptation to close oneself up in some of the certainties acquired in past traditions. But how can we recognize these people? For example, one of the features of this way of proceeding is inflexibility. Faced with the preaching of the Gospel that makes us free, that makes us joyful, these people are rigid. Always the rigidity: you must do this, you must do that.... Inflexibility is typical of these people. Following the teaching of the Apostle Paul in his Letter to the Galatians will help us understand which path to follow. The path indicated by the Apostle is the liberating and ever-new path of Jesus, Crucified and Risen; it is the path of proclamation, which is achieved through humility and fraternity — the new preachers do not know what humility is, what fraternity is. It is the path of meek and obedient trust — the new preachers know neither meekness nor obedience. And this meek and obedient way leads forward in the certainty that the Holy Spirit works in the Church in every age. Ultimately, faith in the Holy Spirit present in the Church carries us forward and will save us.
Pope Francis I (General Audience, 23 June 2021)
16 June 2021 General Audience Pope Francis
Catechesis on prayer: 38. The Paschal prayer of Jesus for us
The Gospels testify how Jesus’ prayer became even more intense and deep at the hour of his passion and death. These culminating events of his life constitute the central core of Christian preaching: those last hours lived by Jesus in Jerusalem are the heart of the Gospel, not only because the Evangelists reserve proportionally greater space to this narrative, but also because the event of his death and resurrection — like a flash of lightning — sheds light on the rest of Jesus’ life. He was not a philanthropist who took care of human suffering and illness: he was and is much more. In him there is not only goodness: there is something more, there is salvation, and not an episodic salvation — the type that might save me from an illness or a moment of despair — but total salvation, messianic salvation, which gives hope in the definitive victory of life over death…
Jesus therefore prays in the decisive hours of his passion and death. And with the resurrection, the Father will grant the prayer. Jesus’ prayer is intense, Jesus’ prayer is unique, and it also becomes the model for our prayer. Jesus prayed for everyone: He even prayed for me, for each one of you. Every one of you can say: “Jesus, on the cross, prayed for me”. He prayed. Jesus can say to every one of us: “I prayed for you at the Last Supper, and on the wood of the Cross”. Even in the most painful of our suffering, we are never alone. Jesus’ prayer is with us. “And now, Father, here, we who are listening to this, does Jesus pray for us?”. Yes, he continues to pray so that his word may help us keep going forward. But pray, and remember that he prays for us.
And this seems to me the most beautiful thing to remember. This is the final catechesis of this series on prayer: to remember the grace that not only do we pray, but that, so to speak, we have been “prayed for”. We have already been welcomed into Jesus’ dialogue with the Father, in communion with the Holy Spirit. Jesus prays for me: each one of us can carry this in their heart. We must not forget this. Even in the worst moments. We are already welcomed into Jesus’ dialogue with the Father, in communion of the Holy Spirit. We were willed by Christ Jesus, and even in the hour of his passion, death and resurrection, everything was offered for us. And so, with prayer and with life, all that remains is only to have courage and hope, and, with this courage and hope, to deeply feel Jesus’ prayer and to keep on going: so that our life may be one of giving glory to God in the knowledge that he prays for me to the Father, that Jesus prays for me.
Pope Francis I (General Audience, 16 June 2021)
9 June 2021 General Audience Pope Francis
Catechesis on prayer: 36. Perseverance in love
…Saint Paul in the First Letter to the Thessalonians: “Pray constantly, always and for everything give thanks” (cf. 5:17-18). The Apostle’s words strike the man and he wonders how it is possible to pray without interruption, given that our lives are fragmented into so many different moments, which do not always make concentration possible. From this question he begins his search, which will lead him to discover what is called the prayer of the heart. It consists in repeating with faith: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”. A simple prayer, but very beautiful. A prayer that, little by little, adapts itself to the rhythm of breath and extends throughout the day. Indeed, breath never stops, not even while we sleep; and prayer is the breath of life.
…The monk Evagrius Ponticus states: “We have not been commanded to work, to keep watch and to fast continually” — no, this is not demanded — “but it has been laid down that we are to pray without ceasing” (CCC 2742). The heart in prayer. There is therefore an ardour in the Christian life, which must never fail. It is a little like that sacred fire that was kept in the ancient temples, that burned without interruption and that the priests had the task of keeping alive. So too must there be a sacred fire in us, which burns continuously and which nothing can extinguish. And it is not easy, but it must be so.
At the same time, a prayer that alienates itself from life is not healthy. A prayer that alienates us from the concreteness of life becomes spiritualism, or worse, ritualism. Let us remember that Jesus, after revealing his glory to the disciples on Mount Tabor, did not want to prolong that moment of ecstasy, but instead came down from the mountain with them and resumed the daily journey. Because that experience had to remain in their hearts as the light and strength of their faith; also a light and strength for the days that were soon to come: those of the Passion. In this way, the time dedicated to being with God revives faith, which helps us in the practicalities of living, and faith, in turn, nurtures prayer, without interruption. In this circularity between faith, life and prayer, one keeps alight that flame of Christian love that God expects of us.
Pope Francis I (General Audience, 9 June 2021)
2 June 2021 General Audience Pope Francis
Catechesis on prayer: 36. Jesus, model and soul of all prayer
From this quick journey through the Gospel, we learn that Jesus not only wants us to pray as He prays, but assures us that, even if our attempts at prayer are completely vain and ineffective, we can always count on His prayer. We must be aware of this: Jesus prays for me…Let us not forget that what sustains each of us in life is Jesus’ prayer for every one of us, with our name and surname, before the Father, showing Him the wounds that are the price of our salvation.
Even if our prayers were only stuttering, if they were compromised by a wavering faith, we must never cease to trust in Him: I do not know how to pray but He prays for me. Supported by Jesus’ prayer, our timid prayers rest on eagle wings and soar up to Heaven. Do not forget: Jesus is praying for me. Now? Now. In the moment of trial, in the moment of sin, even in that sin, Jesus is praying for me with so much love. Thank you.
Pope Francis I (General Audience, 2 June 2021)
26 May 2021 General Audience Pope Francis
Catechesis on prayer: 35. The certainty of being heard
The Catechism offers us a good summary of the matter. It puts us on guard against the risk of not living an authentic experience of faith, but of transforming the relationship with God into something magical. Prayer is not a magic wand: it is a dialogue with the Lord. Indeed, when we pray we can give in to the risk of not being the ones to serve God, but of expecting Him to serve us (cf. 2735). This is, then, a prayer that is always demanding, that wants to direct events according to our own design, that admits no plans other than our own desires. Jesus, on the other hand, had great wisdom in teaching us the Lord’s Prayer. It is a prayer of questions only, as we know, but the first ones we utter are all on God's side. They ask for the fulfilment not of our plan, but of His will for the world. Better to leave it to Him: "Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done" (Matthew 6:9-10).
And the Apostle Paul reminds us that we do not even know what it is appropriate to ask for (cf. Romans 8: 26). We ask for necessities, our needs, things that we want: “But is this more convenient or not?” Paul tells us, we do not even know what it is right to ask. When we pray, we need to be humble: this is the first attitude for going to pray. Just like the attitude in many places for going to pray in church: women who wear a veil or take holy water to begin to pray, in this way we must tell ourselves, before praying, that it is the right way; that God will give me what it is right to give. He knows. When we pray we must be humble, so that our words are actually prayers and not just idle talk that God rejects. We can also pray for the wrong reasons: such as, to defeat the enemy in war, without asking ourselves what God thinks of such a war. It is easy to write “God is with us” on a banner; many are keen to ensure that God is with them, but few bother to check whether they are actually with God. In prayer, it is God Who must convert us, not we who must convert God. It is humility. I go to pray but You, Lord, convert my heart so that it asks for what is convenient, for what will be best for my spiritual health.
…God is the Lord of the last day. Because that belongs to God alone, and it is the day when all human longings for salvation will be fulfilled. Let us learn this humble patience, to await the Lord’s grace, to await the final day. Very often, the penultimate is very hard, because human sufferings are hard. But the Lord is there. And on the last day, He solves everything. Thank you.
Pope Francis I (General Audience, 26 May 2021)
19 May 2021 General Audience Pope Francis
Catechesis on prayer: 34. Distractions, time of barrenness, sloth
So what can we do in this succession of enthusiasms and discouragements? One must learn to go forward always. True progress in the spiritual life does not consist in multiplying ecstasies, but in being able to persevere in difficult times: walk, walk, walk on… and if you are tired, stop a little and then start walking again. But with perseverance. Let us remember Saint Francis’ parable on perfect joy: it is not in the infinite fortunes rained down from Heaven that the ability of a friar is measured, but in walking steadily, even when one is not recognised, even when one is mistreated, even when everything has lost its initial flavour. All the saints have passed through this “dark valley”… Believers never stop praying! It may sometimes resemble the prayer of Job, who does not accept that God treats him unjustly, protests and calls him to judgment. But, very often, even protesting before God is a way of praying or, as that little old lady said, “being angry with God is a way to pray too”, because many times a son is angry with his father: it is a way of relating to the father; since he recognises him as “father”, he gets angry…
…And He will accept even our harshest and bitterest expressions with a father’s love, and will consider them as an act of faith, as a prayer. Thank you.
Pope Francis I (General Audience, 19 May 2021)
12 May 2021 General Audience Pope Francis
Catechesis on prayer: 33. The Struggle of Prayer
It would be interesting to review at least some of these pieces of advice, because each one deserves to be explored further. For example, the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola is a short book of great wisdom that teaches how to put one’s life in order. It makes us understand that the Christian vocation is militancy, it is the decision to stand beneath the standard of Jesus Christ and not under that of the devil, trying to do good even when it becomes difficult.
In times of trial, it is good to remember that we are not alone, that someone is watching over us and protecting us. Saint Anthony the Abbot, the founder of Christian monasticism, also faced terrible times in Egypt, when prayer became a difficult struggle. His biographer, Saint Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, recounts one of the worst episodes in the life of the hermit saint when he was about the age of thirty-five, a time of middle age that for many people involves a crisis. Anthony was disturbed by the ordeal, but resisted. When he finally became serene again, he turned to his Lord with an almost reproachful tone: “But Lord, where were you? Why did you not come immediately to put an end to my suffering?” And Jesus answered: “Anthony, I was there. But I was waiting to see you fight” (Life of Anthony, 10, text, audio book). Fighting in prayer. And very often, prayer is combat. I am reminded of something I experienced close up, when I was in the other diocese. There was a married couple with a daughter aged nine, with an illness that the doctors were unable to diagnose. And in the end, in hospital, the doctor said to the mother, “Madam, call your husband”. And the husband was at work; they were labourers, they worked every day. And he said to the father, “The child will not survive the night. There is nothing we can do to stop this infection”. Perhaps that man did not attend Mass every Sunday, but he had great faith. He left, weeping; he left his wife there with the child in the hospital, he took the train and he travelled seventy kilometres towards the Basilica of Our Lady of Luján, Patroness of Argentina. And there – the Basilica was already closed, it was almost ten o’clock at night, in the evening – he clung to the grates of the Basilica and spent all night praying to Our Lady, fighting for his daughter’s health. This is not a figment of the imagination: I saw him! I saw him myself. That man there, fighting. At the end, at six o’clock in the morning, the Church opened, he entered to salute Our Lady, and returned home. And he thought: “She has left us. No, Our Lady cannot do this to me”. Then he went to see [his wife], and she was smiling, saying: “I don’t know what happened. The doctors said that something changed, and now she is cured”. That man, fighting with prayer, received the grace of Our Lady. Our Lady listened to him. And I saw this: prayer works miracles, because prayer goes directly to the heart of the tenderness of God, who cares for us like a father. And when He does not grant us a grace, He will grant us another which in time we will see. But always, combat in prayer to ask for grace. Yes, at times we ask for grace we are not in need of, but we ask for it without truly wanting it, without fighting… We do not ask for serious things in this way. Prayer is combat, and the Lord is always with us.
If in a moment of blindness we cannot see His presence, we will in the future. We will also end up repeating the same sentence that the patriarch Jacob said one day: “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I did not know it” (Genesis 28:16). At the end of our lives, looking back, we too will be able to say: “I thought I was alone, but no, I was not: Jesus was with me”. We will all be able to say this. Thank you.
Pope Francis I (General Audience, 12 May 2021)
05 May 2021 General Audience Pope Francis
Catechesis on prayer: 32. Contemplative Prayer
Scripture Reading: Psalm 8
Video (English Translation) – Not available yet on 6 May 2021, 22:22 SGT.
“I look at Him and He looks at me!” It is like this: loving contemplation, typical of the most intimate prayer, does not need many words. A gaze is enough. It is enough to be convinced that our life is surrounded by an immense and faithful love that nothing can ever separate us from…
There is only one great call, one great call in the Gospel, and it is that of following Jesus on the way of love. This is the summit and it is the centre of everything. In this sense, charity and contemplation are synonymous, they say the same thing. Saint John of the Cross believed that a small act of pure love is more useful to the Church than all the other works combined. What is born of prayer and not from the presumption of our ego, what is purified by humility, even if it is a hidden and silent act of love, is the greatest miracle that a Christian can perform. And this is the path of contemplative prayer: I look at Him and He looks at me. It is that act of love in silent dialogue with Jesus that does so much good for the Church. Thank you.
Pope Francis I (General Audience, 5 May 2021)
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